Mom, you told everyone! Kids Privacy Online

Being that Educause, a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology, coined January Data Privacy; it got me thinking about kids’ privacy online.  With so many people blogging about their day-to-day lives, especially new parents wanting to document their child’s milestones online and share them with family; I wonder how we go about ensuring their privacy online. As of July 2011 according to Mashable, the two largest blogging sites Tumblr and, together hosted more than 20,958,182 blogs (Tumblr had 20,873,182 blogs and’s had approximately 85,000 blogs). So to me, the question arose do you have “rules” about what you will and will not post in blogs, forums and other online spaces such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr,, etc.?

Someone once told me that anyone could find out anything about me because my life was so public on the web.  I said, “Yes, you can, but there are a lot of things you will hopefully never find out about me because my husband and I have  house “rules” for social media (more guidelines because use of mobile technology and social media change daily) about how, what, where and when we choose to share our personal information.

As my hubby and I have become more actively engaged in social networks and in combination with the our son’s birth, we decided it was time to have family “rules” (guidelines) for social media.  Our rules are constantly  being revised based on new security and privacy issues that arise daily, especially with regards to our son’s privacy online.

According to, social networking sites now reach 82 percent of the world’s online population, representing 1.2 billion users around the world.  In my opinion, that is a lot of people that you possibly can be exposing yours and your kid’s important private information.  Here are our family house rules/guidelines that can be tailored to almost every family that uses any type of social networks (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Flickr, YouTube, Blogger, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc.).

Of course, in order for any family house rules/guidelines to effective, good communication between you and your spouse is imperative. I am sure your communication is as perfect as mine is with my husband (my sarcasm injected).

Never use our son’s real name. We always refer to our son as C2. Yes, we know that anything you post on the Internet is forever, but you are bound to make a slip up; if you do, when you realize it go back and make the correction as soon as possible.

It is easy enough to avoid using the actual names of people and places in your blog so, skip the fine details and you’ll keep a stronger hold on your privacy.

Never post birth dates. We don’t publish C2 birth date. Of course, we are not perfect and when C2 was born, we posted status updates on Facebook to our friends.

Minimizing posting recent pictures of C2. Always remember to look at the background of a picture too. We try to minimize recent photos except on private blogs where an invitation is required to view. If it is a recent photo generally, it is taken from behind or from a profile view. There are exceptions to this rule, but it Brett and I discuss it a head of time.

Yes, we do use photo sharing sites however we set the security setting as “private” as possible because  it is important for us to share photos  with our family and friends, especially the ones we don’t see often.

Minimize details that identify you or your whereabouts. We try very hard to write blog posts and tweets about our location in the past tense.  Writing in the present tense about locations only identifies to a potential hacker, thief, predator, etc. that you are not at home.

Don’t disclose where I live. This has evolved in the last three years. Prior to three years ago, my husband was in politics; therefore, our lives were more of an open book. But, since he exited politics in 2009, I don’t disclose the town we live in only the state.

Keep blogs positive and don’t use them for slander or to attack others.

Ask ourselves if we are comfortable showing any of the content to a stranger. If in doubt, take it out.

Google our child. If we have any doubt about what if anything is being said about our child we “Google” his name. You too can learn about whether your child’s name is being used and by whom by searching in Google or using

No posting of videos of our son on public sites without privacy settings maximized (e.g., YouTube, Vimeo, etc.). We do post videos of our son on our private blog site (viewing is based on invitation only) and on Facebook with friends, but not on a “public” YouTube channel because in my opinion videos are too descriptive (by nature) showing our families whereabouts and more.

If you are interested in sharing videos on YouTube privately, here is how to do it.

Don’t share things that will horribly embarrass you, your spouse, or your children either now or later. You may think it’s cute to share that your son wet the bed until he was 10, but he’s not going to agree.

Just a note to remember, posting your private thoughts and stories about your kid’s online means sharing them with the world. Yeah, there are potential Internet stalkers, but there are also your children’s friends, teachers and future employers.  Of course, there are many positives to blogging about your children such as an opportunity for you to journal about your baby’s growth and development, a platform to state your beliefs about parenting, an opportunity to communicate your everyday life with your  baby to your friends and family that you don’t speak with daily.  But, be thoughtful about the type of information you share. Some things are best kept private. Things you put on line may come back to haunt you and your family later on.

Some parents might disagree on our philosophy; some might think we are too public, while others think we are being too prude. But, we know these are the right guidelines for us.

Do you blog about your family and kids? Do you have house “rules” or social media guidelines you and your family try to abide by? If so, what are they? I would love to hear from you.