The 'Sharent'. Are We Safe As Parent Bloggers? Do We Put Our Children And Selves At Risk?

16/02/2017 17:44 GMT | Updated 17/02/2018 10:12 GMT
Weekend Images Inc. via Getty Images

The Internet is rife with a proliferation of parent bloggers. And I am one of them.

Are we oversharing parents?

You launched a blog, it may have been created after months of plans and lists, considerations and concept maps. Or, like me, you may have had a glass of wine one evening and clumsily word vomited all over Wordpress.

As I scroll down the screen images of my son's sweet smile gaze back at me, as do the faces of other people's children. Happy, crying, sitting on the supermarket floor screaming. There they are. Through the blogsphere we share our lives, the pretty and the difficult. Are parent bloggers selfish?

My words may be honest, raw but never regretted.

A birthday, a difficult night, a first tooth, a joyful moment. They all find themselves on my page.

I skirt round the suggestion that we are being narcissistic in sharing information about ourselves, our families and our world, online. It has been suggested to me and it may be the case. But in a social world of tweets, likes and updates I have found expression and connection, community. Comfort. People can choose not to read what you write; family, friends and strangers on the opposite side of the world.

To post or not to post?

Little M, baby one, smallest one. Some parents use a pseudonym for their children.  Should I only show my child from the back, his face in shadow? Should I have never have started blogging in the first place? Am I putting my son at risk? Some will feel yes and others no. We all made different choices.

As a qualified social worker whose specialism is online harm, you would think I would be running away from the laptop to live in a cave, on a desert island. But I don't. Awareness does make me cautious. Cautious because of the search terms used to find my blog, trolls, hacks, impersonation accounts. Stories of images being lifted and used on inappropriate websites. When does a harmless comment troll, change to a cyber-nuisance, to a concerning threat maker?

There may be a dark side to blogging. Would my family be more protected without being exposed on social media? Perhaps. What protection is there out there for bloggers who are floating in between profession and parent? It is a job for many but is it a job where we will be supported? By laws, by rules, by copyright?  

A digital footprint?

When I write about my son I make sure that I try not to share any details that will cause him distress or offence, which would negatively impact how I am perceived as a mother. The lines are fine in wanting to give an earnest portrayal of parenthood and all the associated challenges. That said, I have cussed and talked about how he threatened to poo in his Spiderman onesie previously.

Who did you start blogging for, your kids, yourself, others? I did it for all three.

There are incidents of children suing parents for posting images. When does their right to privacy trump a parent's desire to share? If Leo gets to the age of eighteen and asks me to wipe my blog, I will. But for now the decision to publish is mine and I try and do it as mindfully as possible.

Blog with a solid appreciation of the risks in sharing information in the public domain. Share only what you are comfortable to share. Consider disclosures and safety, of hiding school logos, last names and personal information. Use Whoishosting to check your details have been left out of lists. Keep software up to date, change passwords regularly, back up content and use website security tools.

There are reasons to blog anonymously, if you wish to write for you, are not wishing to build traffic you can block your visibility to search engines.

The world has risks both on and offline. Harm can be done without the Internet.  I parent my social media as I parent my son. I realise the world has changed. At 30 years old I feel too young to admit it but it's true. Mobiles came into mainstream as I hit secondary school, and now teenagers are becoming millionaires via Youtube. My son's life will be digital.

Do I have second thoughts as a blogger? No. Do I agree with the perception that as bloggers we don't take our children safety seriously? No, we do.

I can stand aside from this bright world of emojis and apps or I can be an empowered part of it, and understand the dangers, make informed choices and educate my son. Blogging also brings opportunity to my family.

This is not an 'I am right or wrong' post, more a greyspace. An acknowledgement of my concerns and considerations. Where do you stand on safety, on sharing your lives online? Do your family's or partner's opinions differ to your own?