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Some thoughts on blogger’s kids privacy

Privacy Problems

In another instalment of Franca gets defensive about things absolutely no one has accused her of, I thought I’d talk about posting pictures of your kids on your blog.

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I got into reading GOMI for something to do when I was still breastfeeding Milo and now I’m sort of hooked. I read a wee bit most nights while Milo watches in the night garden, and I follow several threads.

One of these is about Love Taza. I looked at this blog once years ago when someone said they liked it, took one look and decided it was a bit boring and then didn’t go back. Until I got into this GOMI thread and now I am fascinated, in not entirely a good way. Basically this used to be a blog written by a stay at home wife in New York with a richish husband about her every day adventures. Now however, said husband has quit his job to do nothing very much and they are apparently living off this blog, making $250k a year from sponsorship.

The thing is though, the success of the blog hinges almost completely on the cuteness of their kids aged 4, 2 and a couple of months (and they are adorable), since the blog content, apart from the tedious affiliate link dumps, is all about stuff they do ‘as a family’. And people go properly crazy over these kids: there have been comments from people that they want to breastfeed the newborn and be best friends with the 4 year old, and lots of people saying they were hanging round their area hoping to bump into them.

And the GOMI comments about privacy* (not just re Love Taza, but other similarly successful monetised and ‘professional’ family blogs) focus on how crazy that is for the kids to be so exposed, and to be of such interest to people with possibly not the firmest grasp on what is appropriate behaviour. Another strand of criticism is about the money that is being made in the back of the kids’ exposure. If they were child models or actors, there would be strict rules about the hours they’re allowed to work, and the money earned would be kept in a trust fund for them, but since they are not formally working, just being monetised, no such controls exist. And it does seem a bit of a problem when the entire family’s livelihood depends on the blog continuing. It would be so incredibly hard to stop, even if the kids do decide at any point that they’ve had enough of being photographed.

And the other thing is that they’re probably not going to have the mind space to decide that. Kids want to please their parents and if their parents want them to pose for photos all the time they’ll start thinking that’s normal. And they might start to rely on the validation of comments from total strangers and be really aware of how they look all the time, rather than just doing kid things. Certainly the older daughter appears to be quite the pro at posing.

And maybe also become quite spoilt. This reminds me of an example from another (much smaller) blogger from years ago. She had a blog and Instagram that was completely dedicated to her daughter. She mentioned one day that she read her all the comments she got. Then a few days later she put a photo up of the daughter sulking because her bath water had gone cold, but refusing new warm water being run. And all the comments were like ‘Adorable!’ And ‘How can you resist such a face?’. So what sort of message does that send: you get to act totally irrationally cos you’re cute? What if you’re not cute any more? Maybe I’m overanalysing this because we’re currently deep in tantrum territory with Milo, but it’s hard enough to deal with without the complication of internet enablers (to be fair, for all I know, she didn’t read those comment out or might have told her that they were all saying that she was being silly).


But I don’t know, I have all these opinions and I can totally see the dangers, but at the end of the day I do still take and post lots of photos of Milo, is that really that different? I’ve talked a bit in the past before about why I do post about Milo. He’s such a big part of our lives now, I’m not sure I could really keep this blog going at all of I didn’t cover him, it would just feel quite fake and unnatural. I’ve always talked about stuff I care about and happen to be thinking about at the time, and this isn’t a topic driven blog, and there’s no way I could sustain one of them. And I do use Milo’s real name, mostly because I don’t completely see what the harm is. And if I didn’t have this blog, I wouldn’t have all these lovely pictures of Milo, I wouldn’t be motivated to take them regularly, and sort and edit them quickly if they were just going onto a hard drive. Whether that would be a bad thing is open to discussion I guess, but certainly my family, who rarely see Milo in real life, like seeing the pictures on flickr and Instagram.

I would definitely stop though if I somehow became blog famous and people started making inappropriate comments. And I am very aware that at some point it might become a bit weird for Milo to be on the internet, so I’m keeping an eye out for signs that he might not like it. I’ve seen a few bloggers stop showing their kids when they start going to school so that seems a likely scenario. I’ve also stopped writing so much about what Milo is up to in terms of developmental stages etc. I do find some things about dealing with him quite hard, and I like to complain about them in real life, but that could come across as excessively negative in writing, and no one needs a record of the tantrums they had when they were two potentially being accessible forever.

But the question I’m asking myself is, lots of people overshare their kids lives, not even just on blogs, as arguably am I, is there really that much of a difference just because some people are massively successful in doing so?


P.s. And just for clarification, there are lots of comments on the Love Taza thread I don’t agree with, but the privacy ones seem pretty spot on. I also really don’t mean for this to be a Love Taza criticism fest, I’m just giving them as an example of that kind of blog.

Photo is clickable for source, and unrelated. It came up when I did a flickr search for ‘privacy’

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Kerry 4 March 2015, 1:14 pm

    This is a very interesting as well as emotive topic. It hadn’t really occurred to me that there are blogs that basically exist due to the cuteness of the blogger’s children. That’s weird and definitely makes me feel uncomfortable. It definitely feels unethical to be using the child in a way that they cannot fully understand, and therefore cannot consent to. But how to draw the line between sharing pictures of your children and using them in this more cynical way?
    Personally I would rather not share pictures of my child in an open online context except very occasionally. I don’t even use her name on my blog as I don’t like the idea that when she is old enough, she can look up online and find information and pictures that have been available for years and that she has not got control over. Then again, I am a bit paranoid about this. I didn’t give them my details for the Bounty pack when I was in hospital after having my daughter, as I didn’t want them to sell my details to companies who would then know exactly how old she was, and could market at her/us with age appropriate items!
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    • Franca 11 March 2015, 10:20 pm

      Yes I think that’s it exactly. I just hate the thought of the whole family living on what is essentially the children’s work. To be fair to though, the blog wasn’t set up to be about the kids, it was successful before she had them. I guess it’s just as they’ve started to make money out of it, the kids is what people respond to, so it’s become more and more about them. So it’s sort of understandable, though of course that doesn’t make it right.

      I actually just googled Milo’s name out of interest, and nothing came up. Because my photos are hosted on flickr, I can easily make all the pictures of him private if I ever need to. But I guess I am a bit more relaxed about it than most people, and I do understand what you’re saying

  • knitlass 4 March 2015, 1:51 pm

    Interesting post. I do sometimes blog pictures of my children, but I try to be careful about their identities, and don’t include their names, or mine for that matter.

    For me, part of the reason is to keep my personal life and my work life separate. I am a lecturer – I don’t mind linking with students on Linked-In, but I don’t want them showing up on Facebook or my blog.

    I don’t think I really read any blogs which are just about the children & their cuteness – I do read lots of blogs which include family stuff (e.g Soule Mama, Lazy Seamstress, Made by Rae) but which cover other things too (mostly knitting/sewing/craft).

    It’s hard being a parent – all these choices to make, and maintain and justify! Oh, the GUILT!
    You mentioned tantrums – have you read any of janet lansbury’s posts about toddlers? http://www.janetlansbury.com/ I found some interesting ideas in there when my littlest was born, and there are a few techniques I have borrowed and found useful.
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    • Franca 11 April 2015, 8:21 pm

      Thanks for the tip, have read a bit and will check it out further! He’s a bit better now since I wrote this, or we’ve become more relaxed about it!

      I totally understand that about being a lecturer, but it’s not really an issue in the job I’m in, plus I’ve found not using my full name on the blog in a way that can be read my google has been pretty effective at keeping blog and work separate I think if you read the blog it’d be pretty easy to find out my work details but I don’t think many work contacts would end up on the blog. Not that it’s a secret, there’s nothing on here that I would have even my most senior bosses seeing and I sometimes even actively mention it in icebreakers and such.
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  • Alison 4 March 2015, 9:29 pm

    Great subject! I think there is a difference between sharing every day life that includes children and having a blog focused on them and making money from them. Like you, my blog wouldn’t be mine without featuring the kids but, if they were to say they didn’t want to be on it I would respect that. They both know I post pictures of them every week and actually like it but I don’t use their names and have never mentioned exactly where we live or where they go to school to try and retain some privacy for them.
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    • Franca 11 April 2015, 8:22 pm

      Yes, exactly, it’s getting that balance, isn’t it!
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  • Lorena 4 March 2015, 10:08 pm

    Hi Franca!
    Its been so long since I wrote.
    I don’t have kids – but, I must admit I have seen kids get waaaay too much exposure.
    Once I came across a blogger who even posted the picture of her child’s passport where all details could be seen. I feared for the child.
    As you say, your child is a big important part of your life and there are “filters” that I do believe parents should have when posting anything regarding their kids. Being on line means that the whole world is watching and you can never be too safe with children.

    • Franca 11 April 2015, 8:27 pm

      Oh I agree that is a BAD idea! Whenever I post pictures with details like that I always make sure to cover up addresses/dates of birth etc. I guess I just trust people to be normal and not try and stalk us. There’s probably stuff that I’ve mentioned that could end up in people finding us if they really wanted, but I don’t think anyone cares. I know that’s not a totally logical position though.
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  • Nessa hux 4 March 2015, 11:59 pm

    Sounds awful that the living of the family is dependent on children.
    I wouldn’t use a child’s real name on the internet, as a quick google search by anyone would link their name with photos of them, you, your home, friends, etc and we just don’t know how identity data will be collected/forwarded/sold/used both now and in the future. Also, as an infant the parents can have a good control over who takes photos of their child and what they do with those photos, but once they start attending parties, play groups, day care, nursery, your control of their name and photo lessens. If parents have already set a precedent of internet exposure it can be hard for other well meaning adults to respect a “no posting” request.
    You seem to have thought a lot about it Franca, and that is the best thing for your family. We all have to consider our own circumstances on this very interesting issue.
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  • Kersti 5 March 2015, 8:35 am

    I think about this kind of thing too and every now and then I toy with the idea of giving my kids their own social media IDs so that I can tag them properly in all of those photos – that would at least make it easier for them to find any photos of themselves if they wanted to. Like you I have family far away and I know that if I want my far flung family to know each other then I have to provide the pics – out of sight out of mind. The benefits of family in Australia and Germany feeling like they know their grandchildren/nieces/cousins is worth far more than the potential negatives. Blogging is kind of like television in that it’s an edited fantasy version of real life so if anyone actually believes that those kids don’t throw tantrums or get bored with whatever fabulous activity has been set up then they are naive to say the least!
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