Friday, March 15, 2013

Our kids and their online lives (yes, they already have one!)

Aside from being busy and adjusting to a new normal with a baby in the house, I have come upon another roadblock in my writing: my kids privacy.

While I don't exactly consider myself a "mommy blogger" much of what I write about stems from conversations struggles and everyday situations with my kids.

Recently, Tyler asked me what sorts of things I write about. I said, "Oh, all kinds of stuff, Jesus, recipes, trips we take, TV shows and you kids." He scowled at me and asked what I write about him. My answer was to hem and haw. It didn't seem prudent to tel him that I have written about his struggles with friends, his first crush or how he's doing in school. Let's not get started on the posts I've written about his siblings.

Being the insightful kid he is, he knew I was hemming and hawwing. Narrowing his eyes at me, "Stop writing about me."


Do any of us who write blogs every really consider how our kids might feel about it one day? I know I haven't. While I want to be true to myself, my life, and my mothering experience, I certainly don't want it to be at the expense of my kids. It really has me thinking about where the line is.

What do I share and what do I keep to myself?

I know I have read blogs before and wondered to myself are her kids going to be happy she posted that one day? I have tried to keep things pretty light in respect to what I post about my kids, but there are a couple posts where I wonder if maybe I shared too much about them.

Our kids are being raised in a vastly different world than we were. Their whole lives will have been documented publicly in some way from the moment they were born. Remember how we had the luxury of "reinventing" ourselves over the summer or when we moved away? Our kids will not have that luxury, Facebook has seen to that. Their Facebook profiles (or their parents') will have documented every milestone, embarrassment and achievement over their whole lives.

At what point will we give them control over their online lives? Sure, my kids don't have their own profiles or webpages or twitter accounts, but they certainly have online lives. I have given them one, whether they wanted it it or not. It also leads me to wonder what I should be doing to prepare our kids for their online futures. It feels like something that we need to begin teaching and training about now, not when they are 13, have a phone and can download an ap because they are "technically" old enough to have a Facebook page.

Ultimately, I have decided that, at 9 years old, Tyler is old enough to have a say in what I write about him. When I want to share something he has said or is dealing with, I now ask him. Sometimes he says, "please don't post that, mom." Sometimes he says, "Sure! Can I see what people comment about it?" For now, that is the extent of it, though I think a little Facebook page is in his future (and no, you cannot be friends with him).

I'll be honest, it's been hard not to share everything he says and does. I am a sharer by nature. I process things as I talk (or write) about them and I like hearing other people's perspectives on any given problem, so not doing that has been a real challenge for me. As such, my real life friends have been inundated with the things I usually post and get feedback from. Sorry, guys.

This is a strange place to be in as a writer, but I also think it's good because it is stretching me to think and write outside my normal box. Even those of us who like to be outside the box find ourselves occasionally stuck in one.

I have considered going back and deleting old posts that might have crossed a privacy line for the kids, but again, I am just not sure if I want to do that. In so many ways, as their mom, their stories really are my story.

What do you think? Should we be preparing our kids for their online lives they way we do (should) about school or finances? How old would you make your kids be before giving them a Facebook page?

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