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Out There - My Baby On the Internet

I've mentioned before that I want to get away from doing too many posts on Little L. I love her to bits and am so proud to be her momma, so of course there is a part of me that wants to broadcast her to the world and share her with everyone.

Her new fave book series - Pete the Cat
But she is my daughter, not a commodity to be exploited or fodder to pad my blog or social media. She is a little tiny person who has not given consent, except by being born to me. How do I respect her dignity of person while still being a proud momma?

It's a tricky balance. In my parents' generation, social media didn't exist. They had to print out photos and show them off in person, or write letters and Christmas cards to brag about their kids. And forget about videos; we were too poor for one of those fancy handycams. Nowadays, sharing images and videos and blog posts are just clicks away, and all possible with one minuscule handheld device. This issue is therefore a new one, not one that has been faced by our parents or grandparents. These are uncharted waters.

So I guess there are two aspects to consider when broadcasting about kids: audience and content. I think that these are inversely proportional; the smaller the audience, the more (quantity and private content, within reason) you can probably share, and the broader the audience, the less you should probably disclose.

For a mommy who blogs, this is tricky. For one who blogs about being a mommy and is somehow compensated for having a large readership, that's even more difficult to balance. Thankfully, I still fall into the former category, but I know that many mommy bloggers blog for a living.

So let's explore this issue, shall we? You and I, as I kind of work through these thoughts myself. 

A failed family selfie

This is the easier of the two variables,  since it is a moot point if the only people who follow your (I mean the general "you" and not you in particular) various social media are limited to those who might actually see you in your living room, and know you well "in real life." Grandparents and extended family, best friends... If that's exclusively your following, then I suppose it doesn't matter what you post about your kids, provided it isn't illegal and a violation of their dignity of person. But a shirtless potty pic? Probably still okay.

However, the guidelines of propriety change when people have easy (or unlimited) access to your social media, like FB accounts that are open to the public, or Insta/Flickr/Twitter accounts that can be followed without your permission or knowledge, or blogs that aren't password protected. At the point when you have absolutely zero control or awareness over who is consuming your content, that is when you really have to be intentional about what you put "out there" about your kiddos.

She was examining the potty
I think everyone agrees that private parts are not for show, even if the audience is just Grandma. Most social media have guidelines against nudity, and offer reporting services to allow viewers to protest images and content that is a violation of those terms. It's not prudishness at work, but ethics to protect the dignity of all people regardless of age. I won't post topless or bare bum shots of Little L either, but I have seen some parents include these in their blogs or other public accounts. To each their own, I suppose, but I guess I just don't want some sicko to come across a photo of my topless toddler and get excited. :S

Are certain moments also too private to write or post photos about? That's a trickier question. I had put up some breastfeeding pics of Little L and I when she was younger (to limited audiences), but I don't know that I would do it now, even though she continues to nurse. I see our time as much more private, special, and not for public consumption or judgment. Likewise with potty-training, an aspect of development that simply doesn't require an audience. I suppose those ones might be no-brainers, though. What about when she's crying or upset? Or when she is sleeping? What about when I'm writing about an area that she struggles with, or one that she excels in? Do I include anecdotes describing an incredibly embarrassing moment she had? Do I tell the world about something that makes her so anxious or fearful that she cannot function? If she has some sort of diagnosis, is that anyone's business but mine? Or do I exclude these, painting only rosy pictures that might end up whitewashing our lives into some caricature ideal that simply isn't true?

Some parents blog about their children who are sick. I'm not sure where the line should be drawn between communicating with concerned loved ones, and exploiting the condition for increased leadership. Others keep their cameras rolling all day long, blitzing every minutiae of their children's lives to the internet. I've seen instances when blogs and other social media accounts are completely accessible by random strangers, and yet the content doesn't seem to be toned down to accommodate for these unknown consumers of their posts. I've read, in detailed account, the many procedures that some sick kids have had to endure. Is this education or exploitation? They say that once it's "out there" on the internet, it is forever there. Forever is such a long time.

I'm not sure where to draw the line. I haven't been able to do it super well, but some of the things I've been intentional about are: a) not posting Little L's real name anywhere on the blog and IG, b) limiting access to my FB and IG to people that I know online and in person, c) limiting the type of content and images I post about Little L, d) not tweeting Little L's images, and e) thinking about how Little L might feel if she were to see what I've posted/written, one day. These are not fool-proof measures, but they do seem to keep me active on social media without feeling like I've somehow compromised the privacy and/or safety of my darling daughter. I'm not sure that I have enough readers to warrant this sort of caution, but it just makes me uneasy to think that there is even the remotest possibility that someone could be reading about Little L who has less-than-awesome intentions.

So yeah, I guess that's where I'm at. My IG and FB require approval to view, and I no longer tweet Little L's images. Though my blog is public, I am quite intentional about the pictures that I display on each post. And every day, I seem to blog or post just a little less about Little L. Maybe one day I will find that blessed balance between public and private, but until then, my baby girl is mine to protect.

What about you? Where do you draw the lines of propriety and privacy when you blog or use social media? Have you ever been squeamish about something that someone else has posted? Have you ever been targeted as a mommy blogger, because of your content? What are your ideas on social media, access, and children?


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