Tag: online safety

{From the Vault} Where do you draw the line?

As I continue the ‘From the Vault’ series (where I FINALLY publish long forgotten blog post drafts), I bring to you a post I wrote in January 2014. I don’t think I had the courage to hit publish on this one because I felt that it could be perceived as shaming other parents who do things differently to me. Honestly, it was not coming from a place of judgement. I just wanted to explain why I have rarely made my son’s face public and how I’ve personally chosen to go about things. The thing is, we’re all really still exploring what it means to have a social media/blogging ‘digital footprint’ and what it means for our children. There are many ways to go about sharing our lives.

Whatever you are comfortable with is your own line in the sand, and I think a majority of parents who post photos of their children publicly have thought deeply about what is in their best interests. We’re all just doing what we hope works best for us.

I know my stance on the issue isn’t the most locked down or perfectly protected system, nor is it the most relaxed. I just hope I’ve hit the right balance for my family and my son.  

As a blogger and as a parent who is nuts for uses social media, I am always asking myself – where should I draw the line when it comes to the way I treat/use my child’s online identity? That sounds icky just to type it – “my child’s online identity”. Whether I like it or not, he has one and he has had one almost since birth. With the sharing of that first hospital photo and birth announcement, it began! For some, it begins before their child is born – ultrasound photos of a 13 week foetus!

It’s a sign of the times. I could be really hardcore about it and leave no digital footprint, no evidence of my son’s existence, because let’s face it, he cannot consent to each image or anecdote that is out there in the world. But I’m not. And I am far from being alone. I can only draw my imaginary (but nonetheless important) line in the sand. Everyone’s line is a little different from another person’s, but I think most of us would agree there needs to be one.

There are so many reasons for this and I think they boil down to these:

  • Your child’s future embarrassment
  • A need to protect your child from predators and those who do not have good intentions
  • To teach your child by example

OK, so the ’embarrassment’ factor is a tough one to draw a line on. Kids are cute and unintentionally funny. They will wear funny things, say funny things and do funny things almost from day 1. I know I’m guilty of privately posting photos of my son wearing funny costumes – I’ve loved every second of it! What a laugh! However, right now he’s only 1 and I hope that by the time he has an awareness of what’s really going on from an older person’s perspective that he will just see it as mum being a bit embarrassing and at least they’re just cute baby photos (ie not him humiliating himself as a tween or older).

I blog about my life with the Little Mister. I do humourous (at least I hope they are) posts on my blog’s Facebook page about his experiences. However, there is a lot that I do not publish. I won’t publicly post photos that reveal his face in intimate detail (unless it is an image that has already been made public in other approved and legitimate ways – even then I feel wary), I won’t publicly post photos of him naked or even just in a nappy. I won’t use his real name. Most of what I post about is the stuff that most toddlers and babies do at a given age. He’s very special and unique to me, but let’s face it – I’m describing thousands upon thousands of toddlers when I share my stories. In a way, I feel like I am portraying my own experiences moreso than his. It’s about how he makes me reflect on my own life and how much I am changing and growing through being a parent. At least that’s my intention. As he grows older, I will have to inspect my line in the sand again – the goal posts will no doubt keep moving.

When it comes to social media, my personal Facebook page is as private as I can make it. I regularly check that Facebook hasn’t done the dirty on me with alterations to the privacy settings and again, I do not post naked photos (bath photos etc) and rarely any videos of the Little Mister. Tagging can be a risk (it can expose your photographs to each and every friend of the friends you’ve tagged), but I try to make informed choices. It’s not a perfect world, but I do my best. No-one has the right to see my son’s naked body splashed all over the internet. No matter how perfect and innocent and little and cute he is to me right now. You don’t know who your friend of a friend of a friend is. You don’t know who might access these photos or manipulate and save them. I’m sure I’m not exactly as hard to track down as a person in witness protection (in fact I know I’m not) but I like to think I’ve made my boundaries clear.

Today I was accosted at the local shopping centre by a baby photography company trying to drum up business, by offering the allure of a chance to go in the draw for your child to win you $5000 in a national cutest baby competition. This means that if you pay the small fee to get your child’s photo taken, some stranger you’ve never met will look at these photographs and decide if your child is the cutest or not. I know $5000 is a lot of money and it could buy your child so much stuff, but I don’t enter these things (online or in person). I do not want to make money off of my child’s looks. I do not need some anonymous person to tell me if my kid is cute or not. Dammit, I know he is the cutest in the world because he’s mine and I am incredibly biased and I don’t care if anyone else thinks so or not as long as I raise him to be a good human!!

Some of these photo competitions offer discounts on baby products, huge educational scholarships etc. They sound like they’re wonderful (because the prize can ultimately benefit your child), but basically these brands/companies are saying that my child can get possible opportunities for a better education (by way of financial means) if he LOOKS cute enough.

It just feels like the wrong message? I do not begrudge others for doing this – again, we all have different lines in the sand – but for me, personally, it doesn’t feel right. I share photographs with friends and loved ones, because they care about our family and I do it (relatively) privately with no intentions of world wide distribution for marketing purposes!

Does my blog following/interest suffer because I do not post lots of fun, personal photographs that would let you into my world/family on a much more visual level? Probably. That’s OK with me. That is my line in the sand.

I cannot guarantee that I will feel the same forever or that I might not make exceptions in the future (don’t want to be a big hypocrite), but I do guarantee that I will always consider the best interests of my child’s online (and therefore public) identity first and foremost. It would take a shitload of good reasons lot for me to change my mind.

How do you feel about the online presence of your child/children?

How to feel safer on social media.

If you’ve been anywhere on the internet lately, you probably haven’t been able to avoid the news of Kim Kardashian’s run in with some armed burglars. While my life is absolutely nothing like hers in many(!) aspects, it sends a shiver down my spine to imagine what that would feel like – the violation, the trauma and the fear that your children could lose their mother.

While she’s received a lot of hate and victim blaming comments online, I do feel for her – sure her case has been widely publicised and talked about, because she’s super duper famous – but it’s still something that can happen to anyone. Even if you don’t have millions of dollars’ worth of jewellery on your person.

I have read that the Kardashian/West/Jenner family have really locked down on their social media since the scary event and while I wish this was the ideal world in which it did not play a role in the exploitation of people, I think this is a smart idea for them in the circumstances.

Please be mindful that I am in no way victim blaming anyone. Just offering some advice that I try to live by.

When I say ‘try’ I mean I am not perfect in this oversharing culture we live in, but I do try to have a somewhat cautious approach and I’m hoping to improve.

While the Kardashians are not to blame for the awful decisions made by others to traumatise or stalk them (yes I know a lot of people are disagreeing with me right now but I stand by what I’m saying), I do think this raises a good discussion about how we can keep ourselves as safe as possible. We can’t control everything that might happen to us, but we can put some safety measures in place – even without access to giant burly bouncers and bodyguards!

Here are the ways we can try to keep ourselves/locations/valuables safe(r) when on social media/blogs…

Reveal your location after the fact (or not at all)

It’s probably unrealistic to expect people to never reveal where they’re going or where they’ve been. Social media empires have been built on being able to promote exactly this.

Social media is amazing for its sense of immediacy. We can live blog, live stream, we have apps like snapchat. But it can come with its risks.

People know exactly where we are, what valuables we’re wearing and can deduce many other things about us in that place and time. While I wish there weren’t people out there who would exploit this, there are.

Sometimes for privacy reasons, I will do things like ‘check in’ to a location as I’m leaving it. Or I will save snapchat posts straight to ‘memories’ and add them to my story later.

I will keep certain locations to myself, but promote others. I recently went on an awesome holiday, which I shared a lot of, but I did not reveal the exact place where I was staying with family. Until recently, nobody even knew the exact name of my hometown on this blog!

Sometimes it can help to be a little enigmatic. Don’t always be consistent. Makes it a little harder for people to determine if you’re alone, or who you’re with/not with etc. Check a lot of settings on your social media accounts, because some reveal your location automatically. Try to disable as many of those as you can! You should be in control, not the app!

Be selective about who you share certain details with

I keep both personal and public social media profiles. While nothing is completely foolproof, my personal/private profiles are much more locked down than my public profiles and information. I try to keep my private contacts as people I know personally and feel like I can trust (I could probably even stand to do a bit more culling). I don’t give access to those I do not know well and what I share more ‘privately’ is quite different to what I share publicly.

I think it’s really important to have your private/public online presence sorted. While the urge to overshare to a wider audience can be bloody tempting, I like having people I can message/snap privately without that audience. I just ask myself before posting: is this for a couple of select friends/family members only or is this for a wider audience? What am I willing to reveal about my life right now? I’m allowed to decide what’s best for myself and my family. Some things are just not for social media.

Do not openly say ‘I’m home alone’ or my home is empty.

I try not to ever openly say whether I’m home alone (especially at night time) or that my home is empty. I’m happy to publicly show off my rather annoyingly protective dogs too haha.

I once gasped when I saw an acquaintance publicly post that she was enjoying a bubble bath right that minute, with a check in location at her house. I knew she lived alone and it freaked me out. Please don’t do that! Please!

It’s all about timing and inclusion/exclusion of critical details.

Do not allow people to virtually case your joint 

I can be quite selective in which things I share images of around my house. I don’t show off valuables (not that there are many – if any – mind you haha). I do not think that I have ever given a virtual tour of sorts of my place – i.e. while my house is a pretty standard design, I don’t think I’ve ever revealed the layout in its entirety.

I might just show the pretty generic parts of my place that happen to be in the background of whatever I’m snapping that day. If it reveals too much, I send privately to people who I know and trust in real life, who have probably visited anyway!


I know I may sound a little over cautious to some (it’s not like I’m super rich or famous or a particularly desirable target – something I do not mind AT ALL), but in reality I am really not. I probably could stand to tighten up a lot more. In some ways I envy those who can share so much without fear/paranoia (sometimes it’s even inspiring), but in other ways I can feel concerned.

None of the tips I have written here can guarantee anything. Some awful people have a will and they find a way and there’s nothing much we can do about it (which is why victim blaming is absolute nonsense). This advice just makes me feel a little more empowered and maybe these things make a small difference in deterring some morally bankrupt individuals.

I definitely could learn a lot more about keeping myself and my family safe online, but I am trying to be more mindful of what I share – especially in light of this recent news story (yes I referred to it as a ‘news’ story,  Hatey McHaters!).

How do you manage your online identity/presence? Do you have personal safety online measures put in place? (please make sure your comments do not betray any personal details that could put you at risk)