Blogging about your child or posting photos of her can be a nice way to share your child’s special moments. But it’s worth thinking about how the photos and information you post will become part of your child’s digital footprint.
Why parents blog about children and post photos of children
It’s pretty common to share photos and information about children online. For example, you might:
- share family holiday snaps on social media
- write a blog about parenting and raising children
- contribute to community blogs or Facebook pages – for example, if your child belongs to a local sporting team
- contribute to advocacy or campaigning websites – for example, if your child has additional needs.
These can be nice ways to keep family and friends up to date with how your child and family are going. They can also be ways of contributing to your community or trying to make a difference for a cause that you and your family care about.
Blogs and posts about your child: things to think about
If you blog about your child or post photos of him, it means that you’re creating a digital footprint for him. If you blog and post a lot, it could be quite a big digital footprint.
Your child’s digital footprint is part of her future online reputation This is why it’s important to find out how your child feels about you sharing photos and information about her. For example, your child might:
- think it’s cool
- prefer you not to post or blog about her at all
- prefer that you ask her before you post or blog
- feel it’s OK for you to post to a closed WeChat group chat but not to your public Instagram feed or Facebook page.
Talking with your child about posting and blogging
To start with, it’s always a good idea to ask your child if he’s happy for you to post a particular photo or video of him. Children as young as three can say whether they like a photo of themselves. If your child is too young to give a preference, just use your own judgment.
You might also be able to get a conversation started by showing your child some parenting blogs, Facebook pages or Instagram feeds. You could ask your child what she thinks about the way the parents on these platforms talk about their children online. This can help you get a sense of what your child feels more generally.
Even if your child is OK with you blogging or posting about him now, he might ask you to delete a photo or blog post of him in the future. If this happens, it’s important to respect his request. But remember that even when you delete photos, you can’t entirely remove them from the Internet if other people have shared them.
Balancing privacy and sharing in blogs and posts about children: tips
If your child is OK with you sharing some information or images of him, it’s still a good idea to try to find a balance between protecting your child’s privacy and safety and sharing your family life.
Here are some tips:
- Avoid mentioning your child’s name on advocacy sites or other public sites.
- Avoid posting photos that might identify where your child lives or goes to school.
- Avoid posting personal information that could identify your child, like date of birth or address.
- Be aware that the photos you post could be modified and shared.
- Use email or message apps to send photos to family and friends.
- Create private ‘virtual family albums’ to share with close family and friends.
One of the most important things you can do is make sure that the images and information you post send a positive message about your child. For example, you might decide not to post a video of your child crying and choose something positive instead. But be aware that your idea of a positive image might be embarrassing for your child. For example, she might not like a picture of her doing well at a gymnastics competition if she’s wearing a leotard. - (2016). Parent perspectives on their mobile technology use: The excitement and exhaustion of parenting while connected. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 37(9), 694-701. doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000357.
How your technology use influences your child
What you do and say guides your child’s behavior, attitudes, and beliefs in most things, including technology use. Your child is strongly influenced by the way you use technology and is likely to copy what you do.
So it’s worth thinking about the messages and examples you’re sending your child about technology and its place in your life.
For example, if you enjoy scrolling through social media on your phone for a little while and then going for a family walk, it sends your child the message that social media is just one option for entertaining yourself and relaxing. It also gives your child ideas for other ways to spend her time.
But if you feel worried about being offline for an hour and you get agitated or snappy if this happens, it can send a different message. Likewise, if you sleep with your phone near your bed, take it into the bathroom when you shower, or panic if you misplace it, it might send the message that you really can’t live without a phone.
Role-modelling healthy technology use
Healthy technology use is about using technology in a balanced, positive and fun way. It’s also about making sure that technology is just one of the ways that you relax, entertain yourself or get your information – not the only way.
Healthy technology use is also what you use technology for, not just how long you use it.
Here are some ideas for healthy technology use that you can use to set a good example for your child:
- Set aside some phone-free time each day, so you can be ‘in the moment’ with your child. It could be when your child gets home from school or you get home from work, during family mealtimes, when you’re watching your child play sport, and so on.
- If you get a text message or social media update while you’re talking to someone, especially your child, wait until the conversation is finished before you check it.
- Try not to have your phone, tablet or laptop in your bedroom at night. Charge your media devices overnight in the kitchen or lounge room, and teach your child to do the same.
- Switch off the TV at family mealtimes or when it’s ‘on in the background’. You could try listening to some music or a podcast instead.
- Work together with your child to create a family media plan. Then make sure you follow the guidelines in the plan too!
- Use technology to keep in touch with family and friends by sending texts, making video calls or using social media.
Try keeping a diary of your technology use for a week. Include all your technology use – TV shows and movies, gaming, social media, texting and so on. If you think you’re using technology more than you’d like to, you could reduce your use, check your phone less often, or plan intensive media use for weekends or as a treat. - Hiniker, A., Schoenebeck, S.Y., & Kientz, J.A. (2016). Not at the dinner table: Parents’ and children’s perspectives on family technology rules. In CSCW ’16 Proceedings of the 19th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing, 1376-1389. doi: 10.1145/2818048.2819940.