Why I Don’t Post About My Kids Online

Katie Wells Avatar

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Why I Don't Post About My Kids Online
Wellness Mama » Blog » Motherhood » Why I Don’t Post About My Kids Online

If you’ve read much on this blog, you might have noticed that I don’t post many details about my kids online, other than very general information about how my 4-year-old helped me clean or how one of my kids once spilled activated charcoal all over my kitchen.

I am *hopefully* going to give birth sometime in the near future to baby number 6, and while I will share my birth experience and maybe even a picture of the birth or our baby, I won’t be sharing the name, weight, or even the exact birthdate. There won’t be a cute birth announcement online (even on my personal social media accounts), and I’ll just share our happy news with friends and family via phone, text, or email.

But Why Not Share?

I get a surprising number of questions about the lack of photos and details about my children both in the comments of the blog, and on social media, with some commenters even going so far as to claim that I must not really have children or that I am ashamed of them. My personal favorite is when someone comments that I must be a bitter, single old woman using someone else’s photo to make money online. Hilarious!

The truth is that I am super-proud of my kids and would love to plaster my blog and social media with pictures of them, but I don’t. In fact, I don’t even post about my kids on my own personal social media accounts as this was a decision my husband and I made for our family after a lot of thought and research.

Before I explain, I want to make it very clear that this is a personal decision that my husband and I have made for our family. I am sharing because I have received so many questions about why I don’t post about my kids (and in anticipation of requests to share a photo of new baby). This post is not, in any way, a judgement or a reflection of any other parent’s decisions about posting about their child online, just an explanation of my personal policy on this.

It Isn’t My Right

We live in a unprecedented time in technology and face decisions that our parents didn’t even have the need to consider. None of us (unless you are a lot younger than I am), grew up with our parents having smart phones or posting our pictures on Facebook.

In fact, if you were like me, the closest our pictures came to being “shared” or “liked” when we were kids were when friends and relatives would visit and parents would bring out the ever-dreaded scrapbooks. The physical scrapbooks or “baby book” that had hand-cut printed photos and lovingly worded captions to chronicle our early lives.

They didn’t post these online for everyone to see (because the web wasn’t around yet!) and in a sense we grew up in a safe and protected bubble compared to what our children face today. For me, widespread access to the internet and social media took off while I was in college, so while my first employers could have Googled me, the most they would have found is high school or college graduation announcements or achievements in my adult life.

The same won’t be true for the current generation of children. Future friends, employers and spouses will be able to Google them and potentially find pictures of their birth, or when they were potty training, or baby bath pictures or embarrassing childhood temper tantrums. Those personal childhood moments that we can safely relegate to scrapbooks or photo-albums may be very publicly available for our children.

To me, though I have the responsibility and honor of raising these tiny humans, I don’t “own” them as they are individual human beings who will one day be much more in life than just my adorable baby. While I get to make some really important life decisions for them, like what I feed them for dinner or how they are taught about life and morality, I decided to leave the decision of how and what their online presence would look like to them. And I hope that this is a decision they will make carefully after much thought once they become teenagers or adults.

Here’s the thing… I’m a pretty private person myself and while I share a lot on this blog in hopes of connecting with other moms and helping other families, I’d be pretty upset if someone was sharing pictures of my bad days, or going to the bathroom, or even just personal details without my permission.

I want to afford my children this same respect and don’t feel that I have the right to decide for them what part of their lives become permanently available online.

While we, as moms, are somewhat “the Facebook generation,” a lot of today’s teenagers are choosing social media (like Snap Chat) that offers more privacy and anonymity. I want to consider the fact that my children may one day value online anonymity even more than I do, and they may not have wanted me to post about them on social media or other online forums.

It Can’t Be Un-Done

As a child, I read a story about a woman who often gossiped, and to illustrate how destructive this could be, she was instructed to go to the top of a tower and tear open a feather pillow and scatter the feathers into the wind. She was then to come down from the tower and attempt to collect every single feather.

The moral of the story is that painful words could not be taken back, and that the damage can spread far and wide. I think this same analogy can apply when it comes to the internet.

As all too many teenagers have learned the hard way, it is not always almost impossible to undo things that have been posted online. Others can take screen shots of pictures so even if they are deleted, a copy will remain. Harsh words can immediately reach hundreds or thousands of people and not be taken back.

In an online world where everything can be cached, archived, and stored in the cloud, we have to assume that anything we post online will be permanently available in some form. This certainly goes for adults too, but I feel that it is even more important with my kids.

As I said above, I don’t feel that it is my right to share about my child’s life online and a large part of the reason is that they won’t be able to undo or un-share the things I’ve posted about them should they desire to do so when they are teenagers or adults. As we are the first generation to really face this transition, I have to wonder how our children will feel about this when they are older. Only time will tell, but for now, those are some feathers I’m trying not to scatter into the wind on behalf of my kids.

Is Over-Sharing Dangerous?

I am sometimes amazed by how much I know about friends and family members who I haven’t actually had a face-to-face conversation with in years. In fact, it is sometimes awkward to run into friends I haven’t seen in years and have trouble making conversation because thanks to Facebook I already know their children’s names, that their dad died last year, and that their neighbors are having marital trouble.

I don’t say this as a judgement in any way and certainly understand the desire to share on social media. In most cases, the over-sharing is completely harmless, but I wonder if in the hands of someone who didn’t have good intentions it would remain so.

For instance, I’ve read many stories of investigators who (in order to show the potential dangers of social media to parents) were able to find everything needed to abduct a child from a parent’s social media account. Thankfully, in the examples I’ve heard, these were police officers making a point and not child predators, but it raises some interesting questions. But if a police officer or investigator can find a child’s name, birthdate and school from a parent’s social media posts, it seems logical that a predator might be able to as well.

Am I being paranoid? Maybe… but maybe not.

Identity theft is another potential concern for me. Think about this… If the details of a child’s life have been shared on social media from birth, a person could potentially find that child’s date and time of birth, eye color, hair color, photos, school location and home address online.

Think about this too… many people use a child’s name or birthdate or some combination as the password for various internet accounts. Many of us have a maiden name on Facebook to be able to find friends. Many of us list our past places of employment and residence in our Facebook “about” section or LinkedIn profile. How many of your security questions to online accounts could someone answer with that information? How many of us have taken online quizzes or filled out those “21 Facts About Me” that just happen to coincide with common answers to security questions.

I personally know people who have had their accounts and lives hacked and suffered for months trying to clean up the damage. They eventually found out that the hackers were able to get in by using publicly available information that they’d posted online to answer security questions and get into their email. From there, the hackers could reset other passwords and gain access to other accounts.

Is that likely? Hopefully not, but I’ve seen first-hand that it is possible. I also know people who have had their child’s personally identifying information stolen and used in tax fraud, credit card applications, or other fraudulent ways.

I know that I definitely err on the side of extreme caution, but I’d rather do this than the alternative, especially when I’m talking about my children.

Online Privacy is a False Security

I have my personal privacy settings on all social media set to the highest settings so someone can’t even find me or view my profiles without already being friends with someone I know. I feel that this offers a false sense of security though, since many people still post sensitive personal information assuming that it is protected by our privacy settings.

At the same time, these settings are changing constantly. Every few months I re-check these settings and sometimes discover that thanks to a recent Facebook update (or any other social media account for that matter), things that I’d previously hidden from view with privacy settings were now publicly available or that it is no longer possible to stay hidden in some searches. I also actually read the privacy policies and realize that we aren’t really as safe as we think we might be.

With the addition of facial recognition software online and in social media, privacy is further blurred. Online algorithms can now suggest that we tag friends in pictures and determine who our closest friends are based on shared photos and status updates. This creeps me out somewhat when it happens to my own photos, but it is definitely something I want to prevent for my children (because again, it can’t be un-done).

In fact:

There’s a more insidious problem, though… Myriad applications, websites, and wearable technologies are relying on face recognition today, and ubiquitous bio-identification is only just getting started. In 2011, a group of hackers built an app that let you scan faces and immediately display their names and basic biographical details, right there on your mobile phone. Already developers have made a working facial recognition API for Google Glass. While Google has forbidden official facial recognition apps, it can’t prevent unofficial apps from launching. There’s huge value in gaining real-time access to view detailed information on the people with whom we interact.

Could any of us have predicted when we were growing up what our digital lives would look like today? I certainly couldn’t have.

We truly have no idea what the future of technology holds for our children or what it will look like a decade from now. I’m personally trying to guard their future privacy (and right to decide their own online sharing) in the only way I know how- by keeping their information offline until they decide they want it there.

The Reality of Online Judgement

We’ve probably all seen the heartbreaking stories of kids who were incessantly bullied online. Some of these children have even been driven to suicide by this online bullying (including a girl who killed herself after being shamed online by her father). Statistics show that kids use social media metrics as a real-life measure of their likability and worth as a person. This can certainly have its consequences and is a cautionary tale for us as parents, but many experts think that the same thing is happening (on perhaps a more subtle level) with adults too.

While most parents once reported being secure and relatively not-stressed about their parenting decisions, many parents now call parenting “stressful” and “complicated.”

One possible explanation experts give? That we are constantly being judged by our online parenting choices, since social media has become an un-official second opinion. I’m not just talking about the heated debates that rage on controversial topics where parents blatantly call each other names and claim that CPS should take their children away for their poor choices. I’m talking about the more subtle comments on day-to-day posts, the number of “likes” (or lack thereof) and the more passive aggressive feedback that makes many of us feel the need to constantly showcase our good parenting moments online.

Why do we feel the need to wish our children (even ones who aren’t on social media) a happy birthday or congratulate them on a sports win? Especially considering that our kids are often either too young to read these posts (and not on social media yet) or old enough to be embarrassed and annoyed that we are tagging them at all?

Could it be that we crave the likes, comments and positive feedback?

I get it. Parenting is hard and positive feedback is helpful. I definitely bounce ideas off of friends or ask for advice in person. I just try really hard not to use my kids as a means for social affirmation.

On the flip side, even as an adult and parent, I know the pain of online judgement and how hard it can be to face that daily. We hear the news stories about teenagers and online bullying, but the same thing happens daily among adults. I don’t post much on personal social media but from my years of blogging, I am very aware of just how hurtful and hateful people can be on the internet (and how amazing most people are!).

I have gotten actual hate mail from people simply because they disagreed with my food choices, my outfit in a picture, or the fact that I avoid iodine with my thyroid problem. I’ve actually had someone email me that they hope I “choke on a piece of meat and die and then catch fire in a fur coat” because I posted this recipe. Seriously.

Other People Probably Don’t Care

With all the above reasons that online information can be potentially mis-used, I feel it is important to touch on a much more likely option that my younger (unmarried with no kids) brother often reminds me of.

Most people just don’t care about seeing pictures of my kids (or dog, or house, or anything else) every ten minutes on social media. That isn’t to say it is a reason not to share these things, but it is a running joke of sorts about how the Facebook news feed is just for pictures of people’s babies, cats and dogs.

Harsh though it may be, none of these people really care that much about our kids or pets. They certainly don’t care as much as we do. Of course, there are grandparents and family members who absolutely do and who love to see hourly updates of our kids, and I’m definitely not saying we shouldn’t share them.

I just *personally* prefer to share the pictures and cute things my kids say with their grandparents and aunts and uncles via text or email rather than with the whole world via social media or my blog. My parents love seeing pictures and videos of when a grandchild learns to walk, or read, or anything else really. They love videos of my kids belting out a favorite song and I share it with them. The rest of the internet doesn’t really care (and it’s none of their business), so I don’t share it.

You Just Never Know

I know many things in this post seem alarmist and I don’t mean it that way, but I do think that you never truly know the potential consequences until they happen. Something may be a very low risk, but if you are the one it happens to, the statistics don’t matter.

A few years ago, I hemorrhaged and had an emergency c-section from an undetected placenta previa at 35-weeks gestation. I’d had an ultrasound and regular prenatal care. I’d been checked multiple times. I had none of the risk factors. Do you know what the odds are of an un-detected complete previa at 35-weeks with my risk factors? Really, really low. Unfortunately, that statistic did little to help when I was bleeding. Not to be dramatic, but just to illustrate that statistics are only helpful if you are in the “safe” percentage.

Sure, the *fictional* story that circulated about the mom who posts a picture of her daughter on the first day of kindergarten on her Facebook profile only to have it stolen by a sex trafficker who now knows where her daughter is that day and goes on to abduct her and sell her into the sex trafficking industry is far-fetched and extremist. At the same time, how many of us have posted bath or beach photos of our children nude or almost nude that could end up in the hands of someone we wouldn’t want to see them.

The statistics are small and many stores like the one above are drastic and alarmist. I typically try very hard NOT to be over-protective of my children. They know how to safely use kitchen knives. They play in our backyard without me following 10-feet behind them. When we camp, they take short hikes around the woods without us. They build fires and carve sticks when we camp. Heck, I even let them make the decision to eat “un-healthy” food that I wouldn’t choose for them so they learn about making good choices and accessing risk in real-time. I don’t consider myself over-protective in the least when it comes to these things because they relate to real life skills.

I don’t consider being on social media an essential life skill and have yet to think of a single important life lesson my children miss out on by not being chronicled from birth online. Yes, the real risk of actual harm to a child from being shared online is small, but I also don’t see the benefit of over-sharing. To me, this is one area where I can easily protect my children without them missing out on anything important, so I choose to do that.

We also know that much online data, especially that shared on social media or that can be indexed by search engines, is stored in data repositories and can be archived indefinitely. We don’t (and can’t) know how this information may be used in the future and if we can ever remove it.

I’m not Anti-Social Media

I feel it is important to clarify that this decision does not stem from a dislike or fear of social media at all. In fact, I was on Myspace and have had a Facebook account since 2005, when it was only for college students who had a .edu email address. I still use many personal social media accounts to keep in touch with close friends and family, and for blogging.

I think social media is an amazing tool, when used correctly. At the same time (and perhaps because I’ve been using it for over a decade), I’ve seen some of the negative and unfortunate things that can happen when young children are allowed to share too much online too soon.

I won’t keep my kids off social media forever as I’m not opposed to their using it when they are older and responsible enough. I just don’t personally want to put them on there until they can make the decision themselves since I want to help them form a good sense of judgement and responsibility before giving them a tool like social media to use.

Bottom Line

At the end of the day, the central reason I don’t post pictures, names or information about my children online can be summed up in this way: I am not my children and I don’t feel that I have the right.

My children are individuals and I feel that they have the right to this privacy. They may currently depend on me to provide and protect their basic needs and rights, but one day they will be autonomous adults who may not have wanted their childhood chronicled in such a public way. I had the safety of a childhood that wasn’t publicly chronicled and I want to offer the same to my own children.

Don’t get me wrong… I take all. the. pictures. And make all the scrapbooks. They’ll have a detailed photo record of their childhood if they want it… it just won’t be online.

I also feel that there is a balance, even for me. I share pictures of them doing activities on social media, I just don’t show their faces or use their names. I talk about them in a general way. If you want to, you could find more pictures of my daughters’ hair than you’d ever care to see. I’m not perfect with this policy and I did share some pictures early-on in my parenting days (that have been mostly removed now). I just try really hard to afford my kids some online privacy, especially while being a “mama-blogger.”

I know I am in the minority in my decision, as 97% of U.S. moms who use Facebook report that they post pictures of their children online. I also know that just sharing my opinion is likely to open me up to some of the same criticism and online judgement I always hope to avoid, but since I have received so many genuine questions about this, I wanted to share my perspective.

Again, I’m sharing my own research and opinion on this matter and the post is titled “Why *I* Don’t Talk About *My* Kids Online” and not “Why YOU Shouldn’t Talk About Your Kids Online.” I don’t mean for this post to be controversial, though I suspect that it might be. I don’t mean this post as a judgement of any other mom… we all deal with that enough!

If you disagree with my stance on this issue, I’d love to hear about it and talk with you in the comments. All I ask is that we all keep it respectful and talk in a way that all of our children will be proud of.

Do you share about your kids online? How and why did you make this decision? Please weigh in below!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


251 responses to “Why I Don’t Post About My Kids Online”

  1. Natasha Avatar

    Hi Katie thank you for all your information, this is the first time I have commented on anything like this but felt the need to applaud and congratulate you on all you do, I have nothing but admiration for you how you juggle family and home, that you home school all of your children it truly is remarkable, I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts and find them extremely useful, thank you, thank you, thank you, regarding this post on Internet safety I use social media to keep in touch with friends and family overseas but feel the need to protect my kids too, it’s very easy to get caught up in the world of social media (and often waste time) but also difficult when children have pressure from peers for being different and you feel like you are the worst parent in the world sometimes for not letting them be like others but you can’t put old heads on young shoulders, and until they are old enough to be responsible I think as a parent it’s our duty to protect them from harm and the dangers out there, it’s hard as a parent keeping up with things and the constant need to be 10 steps ahead! The Internet was barely up and running when I was a child now you a hard pushed to get away from it all!

  2. Amanda Avatar

    Thank you, I found this post thought provoking, I never really considered how technology may change in the future of my children!

  3. Beth Avatar

    I completely respect your decision. I seldom post pictures and prefer simple headings. It’s also only done with my 3 teens’ permission.

  4. Mary Darnall Avatar
    Mary Darnall

    I agree! I post about my children and how I healed their food sensitivities and the journey we went through to help other but I don’t post a bunch of pictures about them or offer much more info than what worked while doing the Gaps diet and different interventions that were successful and un successful.
    I also don’t have a Facebook or any other social media I post about them.
    I love that you took the time to write this. I think most of your commenters are the 3% that don’t do these things.
    Thanks for taking the time to do this! It makes me feel less alone in my desisions!


  5. Kris Avatar

    Thank you for posting this article! I have had an internal struggle with the whole kids and social media thing. You brought up several points that never crossed my mind, and I feel like I can come to a decision now. Thank you for going against the grain in a respectful, thought-provoking, and positive manner.

  6. Barbara Avatar

    Excellent article Katie! Appreciate all you’ve said here and appreciate very much what you do! I admire and applaud you!

    I don’t have a facebook or any social media account…. and it works for me…. I don’t feel the need to. But reading this article makes one realize that we [don’t have the right] to put our children’s lives out there. I want to protect them and their right to privacy.. We really do not own them. Anyways thanks for posting this. God bless you!

  7. Amy Avatar

    I urge everyone to read “Cyberslammed” by Kay Stephens.
    Parents, teens and grandparents.
    Give it to anyone who scoffs at your request not to post pictures or info about you or your kids.
    Kay presented for staff at the middle school where I work. I am shocked that more people do not understand the long term consequences of the digital age.
    I do have a FB account and share with family and friends because they were all over the world, but I also share pictures very rarely and only with permission from my children (10 / 13). I was the horrible parent that wouldn’t let my kids touch an electronic device until they received one from the school. If and when they are allowed to get social media accounts of their own, I will be “friends” with them. I will monitor and demand they take things off the site, but they have both been educated as best I can about their digital footprint and what it may mean to them in the future.
    Thanks for sharing such important information.

  8. Kelsey Avatar

    This was exactly what I needed to hear. I was teetering on some of these ideas and it just makes so much sense this way. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. 🙂

  9. Amy Avatar

    Way to go girl!! Our house is 100% social media free. My husband is a state trooper…you are not just paranoid! The list you wrote is a reality that all families should consider.

  10. Lesa Avatar

    Dont know if you realize this but when you take a digital photo , the photo has unseen information imbeded in the codes. If you post a digital photo, those identifying codes which are attached to the photo identify the time, date AND LOCATION where that photo was taken. Most apps request or require and obtain the location where it is used. There is a way to remove that information but I dont know how. Unsavory persons have been known to see a photo of a child they find interesting, use the imbedded codes th find the location, then use that location to try to find the child (or other person they are interested in). Be very careful about posting any photos.

  11. Dianne Avatar

    I feel you are a perfect wife and mother for your family with all that you say. No woman feels they are the perfect mother or wife they think they should be. I agree with you with saying more or less you want your children’s privacy and not posting pictures of what they look like or everything they do. If you want to show people your families pictures to family and friends you should send them by mail to them and not use any internet media. When my family got a computer one thing was said assume nothing at all is private even with emails as anything and everything can be read by someone through the computer lines all the way to the super computers and from any facebook, twitter, and all different groups like that, regardless of their privacy postings. To many people on facebook give to much information out about their families and pictures and then if they would get in the wrong hands then what? So I really believe what you are doing is the best thing for you and your family and keeping everyone safe.

  12. Nancy Avatar

    I totally hear what you are saying. I too have chosen to not post anything about my child on the internet. Ever.

    Here’s a quick story about Facebook security. My husband is friends with a woman who works in a federal prison. She has a Facebook account, and my understanding is that she can be found only through friends lists. Well, that sounds okay, right. It did sound okay until one of the inmates in the prison just happened to send a friend request to her because he just happened to know someone who knew someone who knew her. I mean, yikes. Federal prison inmates aren’t usually the safest sort to have around.

  13. Jennifer L. Avatar
    Jennifer L.

    I totally agree with you. My sister is very upset that we don’t use Facebook at all and feels as if we don’t keep her informed enough since we don’t use a format that is readily convenient for her. I love that you share all kinds of things about birthing, parenting and what it takes to get through a day with kids–however we don’t need to see all the cute pictures of your kids for you to get your point across. Of course your kids exist–dude, no woman in her right mind would post five birth stories in great detail for fun, or have to think of creative ways to get rid of a toddler cough at 3 a.m., or write 100 posts about every aspect of nursing. Good grief! If you didn’t have kids, you’d surely find something else to occupy your time! 🙂 (Maybe a literature blog, or home decorating–not all things mothering!).

    On the other hand, I love that soule.mama shares about her children–but it’s her decision and she does it very respectfully–you won’t see her kids sitting on the potty the first time or belting out a tantrum. If I looked her kids up online 20 years from now for some job, I’d be impressed. At some point, it’s important to see the world as an inherently good place with good people (of course there are the statistical outliers). We’ll all do our best and hopefully end up with kids who can think creatively about these types of social media problems facing their future. Teens going through it now will be all the wiser once they’re adults, hopefully!

  14. jen Avatar

    I closed my fb years ago. I will have nothing to do with any online postings, I value my privacy, and I feel if I haven’t talked to someone from 20 years ago, I’m pretty sure I don’t need to talk to them now. They don’t need to see my child, nor do I want them sending the pics to another, eventually ending up in the wrong hands. And you bring up a good point, would my child appreciate my postings later in life for an employer or future mate to later find? Likely not.

    1. Monica Avatar

      Jen, I totally agree! If someone wants to keep in touch with me, they can pick up a phone and invest some time. Not stalk me online. I feel like since I’ve closed my FB account (years ago) I can now tell who my real friends are. People that truly want to spend time with me are the ones that actually call or make plans to get together. And those who are too busy, well that’s fine. I don’t need to keep in touch with everyone from my past, only those who are relevant today. And it’s weird for my kids when someone knows all about them but doesn’t really know them. That’s just kind of creepy.

  15. Vanessa Avatar

    My husband and I, very similarly, decided to not post names, birthdays, etc of our children on any social media site. We just had our second and reminded people again that we are weird and explained our preferences. We send out birth announcements and news via email…which is still not secure but hopefully better… We do occasionally post pictures online but always sweet ones, no names, locations etc. Granted, we are also fairly private ourselves even though my husband has a couple of YouTube channels. It is an interesting balence but we agree, very important, as our children’s privacy and and security are involved. Thanks for this clear explanation!

  16. Elise Avatar

    Hi, Katie. I have been reading your posts for a while now and I have appreciated them. I have never commented, but felt like I had to today. My husband and I feel the same way as you do – including our strongly held belief that this decision is one that each family has to make on its own according to what is right for them. I have not been able to find much information at all online about other parents feeling similarly. In fact, I have only one other mom friend who also does not post photos of her child on social media. Reading your post, and many of the comments that followed, helped me feel like we are not such an anomaly after all! Thank you for providing me with support and showing me that there are other like-minded individuals out there. All the best to you and your family.

  17. Teneko Avatar

    Good for you! I first got online in the early 90’s and managed to acquire a scary stalker. Since then, almost all my online stuff is under aliases / nicknames. There are people who only know me by my aliases. I like it that way. I don’t share my aliases with co-workers either and keep a strict separation. If an employee Googles me, they only find my work into. I stream online without a cam. I’ve had co-workers ask for my stream name and I just don’t give it out.
    You’re on the right track. Don’t let anybody tell you different.

  18. Tierney Avatar

    Bravo, Katie! Thank you for sharing this. It truly gives a mama something to think about. I’ve been skeptical about social media for the last few years and you raise so many good points. For what it’s worth I respect your position on this SO much and I’m sure your kids will be thankful for all the thought you’ve put into this. On so many levels you’re a trend setter and this is a monumentally amazing trend to be setting!

  19. Michelle Goldsmith Avatar
    Michelle Goldsmith

    This story brings to mind something my mom told me when I got old enough to answer the phone: “Never say who you are or any other information like how old you are or your address. They already know, if they are friends and have our number. Never say, mom isn’t here — say instead, she can’t come to the phone right now, may I take a message?” Still holds true, but for all of us, not just our children. You wouldn’t give information like this to a stranger over the phone; why would you give this and more to 100 million strangers over the ‘net??

    So, massive kudos for not sharing your children’s photos and intimate personal details! I was a software engineer for over 40 years and I have had so many people tell me I am paranoid for warning them about such things. Of course I probably come across that way, because I have seen the level of “permissible” bugs that most software companies allow. They can’t get them all out, so at some point, they release the software knowing there are vulnerabilities — just ones they believe are too obscure for the user to find, or the bug is supposedly innocuous. It’s the so-called “obscure” ones I worry about, because they may be so for the average user, but not so for the determined hacker who may or may not have malicious intent.

    I have had otherwise apparently intelligent parents say things like, “Why would anyone want a picture of my child? What harm can they possibly do with a picture?” Yes, and their birthdays and their favourite sports teams, colours, music, etc, etc. We don’t sometimes realise just how much information we are giving out.

    I recently wrote an email (quite nervously, as it could sound like *I* was some kind of lurker) to a woman blogger about this very thing. She is a mother and blogs about nutrition and urban homesteading — and she had her actual street address posted on her Contact me page! With a street address, you can Google Earth someone’s home and see what’s in their backyard on a given day, and anyone could just show up at your door. Now, think about that, and in the same moment, think about some of the trolls that send hate emails like those mentioned in this article. What a recipe for disaster!!! And her children play in that yard! She has since removed her street address from her page, but it is no doubt archived somewhere in the cloud. Once that information is out there, it can be used to hurt you and your loved ones.

    The latest thing I’ve heard about is called “swatting” where trollers who know where you live attempt to extort you. And if you don’t comply? They try everything from ordering takeaway over the phone to be delivered to your location, to telling the local SWAT team that you are a terrorist! I cannot imagine how anyone could recover psychologically from realising that the information they shared online put their family in such danger! Think I’m exaggerating? Have a look at this article on the NY Times website:


    Moral of the story: Be safe, keep your personal details to yourself. And never, ever, post anything specific about your children or other loved ones that might be used to harm them at some future date.

    PS: This article is the most comprehensive explanation I have seen to date. Well done, Katie!

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