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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

To Post or Not to Post: Children’s Faces in Private Places

Love Blog

Dmytry Karpov and I just launched our brand new blog together,Kimberly ♥ Dmytry: Breaking the Mold in Life and Love.”

We are so giddy with excitement over it, it’s kind of embarrassing. Except we’re so happy in love that we can’t be bothered with being embarrassed.

Up until now, any blogging I’ve done has been about my own journey spiritually (the early days of my journal-blogging months), or, lately, writing about different subjects and issues that spark a rise in me.


But now, this blog with Dmytry will be more family focused. On us as a couple (the unique experiences of a dramatic age-difference, living with and loving my writing partner, etc.) and us as parents.

I have three little girls: 8, 6 and 4.

They will feature in our work from time to time.

In the past I have used their pictures in my blogs, and even included my oldest daughters name, as the blog was dedicated to her and her commitment to the environment in “The Chicken Nuggets Must Live!”

But I didn’t give it too much thought.

Until Now.

So my question to you is this. To post or not to post?

Do you use your children’s names and pictures in your blogs? Why or why not?

I know some awesome bloggers with decent followings who routinely feature beautiful photos of their children and include names.

And I know some awesome bloggers who don’t.

I know people who feel it’s risky and invites predatory type people into their lives.

And I know people who don’t agree. Who feel the demographic doesn’t really give rise to this problem.

Also, for those who do use them, do you worry about negative affects?

For those who don’t, what’s the worst that would happen? Is it a real life concern? That a predator will stalk you in the flesh? Is it a virtual concern? That they will use these innocent pictures for not so innocent intentions?

I guess I don’t understand the dilemma. I’m inclined to go the way of those who use pictures and names. I don’t see the harm. It’s unlikely anyone seeing that picture will be able track me down where I live, even if they should feel so inclined. And really, would they?

Maybe I’m not being as cautious as I should. I don’t know. That’s why I’m opening it up for discussion. A lot has been posted on other blogs about this, but I’m still undecided.


What’s your take on the subject? To post or not to post, that is the question.

14 comments:

  1. I never post my kids pictures or names. I even wait a bit after getting to know someone and emailing them. Just extra cautious because the net is a scary place and anything can happen. It's hard not to when you're so proud of them. I understand the dilemma.

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  2. I don't post photos of my kids on my blog, but I don't post very many photos at all. That's mainly because a certain puppy dog ate my digital camera and the one in my phone stinks.

    I do use their names, though, and I can honestly say it didn't occur to me that it might be a risk. My kids are older, so you have to do more than walk up to them cold and say their names out loud to gain their trust.

    Certainly, thinking about it, I can understand clearly why people might refrain from it, but even if you do, you have to arm your kids with the exact same attitudes and safety protocols, because there are many, many ways people can figure out what your kids look like and what their names are.

    Actual stranger abduction is statistically very rare. Doesn't mean don't worry about it, but we're talking something approaching lottery ticket odds. Far more common is acquaintance abduction, in which case they already know the kid's name and appearance.

    Parents vary - I certainly wouldn't argue with anyone about how they want to do it.

    Has anyone been over to see the Free Range Kids blogger? Her eight year old is always taking the subway alone, switching trains, all that - and I'm pretty sure there's a picture of him right there on her really popular blog.

    Everybody does it differently I guess. I wouldn't let my sixteen year old daugher kayak across the ocean either, but there's one in the news that keeps giving it a shot.

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  3. I'm part of the "don't post" camp. I always refer to my son as "son," and I don't post pictures of him on public sites. I do the same with my husband usually, although I'm less picky because he's a big boy (I still get his permission though).

    The reason why I'm cautious is because I'm a part-time Internet investigator and volunteer with a child porn prevention group. You would not believe the creeps out there. Seriously, unless you have dealt with some of these , you can't imagine what they're capable of. They want you to be lax. They want pictures, details, anything they can use to fuel their imagination. Not many will come after the kids directly, but some will try.

    Does your house number end in "2"? If so, it took me 15 minutes to find your home address. Last month, I tracked down a person's home address using just their name and IP address. This was a person who thought they had hidden their presence well.

    Sorry, don't mean to get all intense about it. It's just one of those subjects that gives me a soapbox and a megaphone.

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  4. Wow, am officially totally creeped out Angela. Thanks for that. I'd really like to talk to you more privately about this, if you're up for it?

    Tom, get a camera ;) hehe

    Michele, I understand. My ex has his FB setting on "Please come and learn everything about me right now, regardless of who you are" and has hundreds of pictures with complete names of our kids. I've only publicly posted them maybe 3 times. And only identified one once, because she wanted to promote an environmental message she created.

    So here's a question. My 8 year old is an activist. Seriously. And she wants to go bigger with her environmental agenda. She wants to use my blog for this. Angela, thoughts? Her name and picture would get out. She even has an idea for Disney Friends for Change she wants to submit.

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  5. It's fine to use her picture as long as her real name is not associated with it. Also, don't associated your name with hers in public. Kids don't have public records on file, but adults do. If they know who you are, they can find her.

    Create her own blog for her. Let her choose an "acting name." Never let her post anything about where she lives or pictures near your house. Make sure you scrub her posts for any references to names (friends, family, locations, schools, etc).

    If you're cautious, she'll be as safe as possible in the information age. Of course, always always supervise. And don't give her access to a webcam until she's 18 ;)

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  6. I've *been* stalked. Multiple times. In real life. At least one time by a complete stranger.

    So, yeah, I'm a bit on the paranoid side. :) I never go into specifics of my family, but then again, that's not the focus of my "brand" or blog. I've made the decision that sharing that kind of information is not for me, so I consciously avoid that topic in my tweets and blog posts. Believe me, I have oodles of stories and pictures I'd love to share, but I save that for emails with people I trust.

    But yes, Angela is right. Ask @techsurgeons about it. (He's my tech guy.) He has a certificate in Ethical Hacking, and he helps people find where they're vulnerable and how to protect themselves.

    Obviously, there are people out there who *do* safely share stuff. The important thing is knowing there are ways to share information AND stay safe.

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  7. Jami,
    Yes, the more I learn, the more I realize how critical the safety issue is. It has swayed me and another blog on my findings and precautions will be forthcoming.

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  8. I can't see a problem when i'm out in public i use my childs name and there must be loads of people around at the time, so why not on twitter and most of my followers are over the ocean if we keep a close eye on our childern and teach them how to be safe that's the main thing.

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  9. deedee, that's a good point. It's a tricky issue. Maybe its a matter of access. Once on a blog, it's there for the entire web. IDK. Still sorting it out in my head.

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  10. Well, Angela certainly was successful in freaking me out just a little bit, I've taken down any pictures of my kids - there were only a couple.

    But really, I still can't see the harm in using their names. Literally thousands and thousands of people know their names.

    I can see how photographs might draw attention, which could snowball into fixation and all that.
    I don't blame you Angela for having that mindset after working in such a horrific capacity, but being immersed in it could be skewing your perspective on exactly how common it is. For example, I literally don't personally know a single person who has every had a problem like that - and I don't know anyone whose family members have been murdered, either, but I'll bet murder sure seems common to a homicide detective.

    Again, I sure wouldn't argue with any safety precautions you wanted to promote, it's just a matter of where we strike a balance between caution and paranoia. Erring on the side of paranoia might well be the way to go - like I said, I took down the pictures, for sure.

    But Angela, I'm not trying to be flip or anything when I say that you could find my address quite easily - I think I'm in the old-fashioned phone book along with millions of other people, and you can probably hit me with a Yahoo People Search and find me that way. Also head down to the County Recorder's office with no Internet at all and search by name, pull up deeds and mortgages, etc.

    So I don't think I'm too interested in actively trying to hide, I just really see your point about photographs and child pornographers, and hell yes, I'm with you there. I think the rest of it, for me, I'm more comfortable addressing with a lot of frank conversations with my kids and enforcement of strict safety protocols in the real world, and comically omnipresent supervision.

    But by all means, I'm listening.

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  11. All good points. Tom, I'm taking all pics down too, fortunately didn't have many. I'm also rethinking my FB.

    I don't know where the line is between careful and paranoid.

    I am doing another blog on this though. :)

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  12. Wow Kimberly, glad you took our DM conversation public. I meant to post earlier, sorry.

    I'm the proud father of two wonderful kids, TechBoy & TechGirl. My loving spouse has the most beautiful name - TechWife. :) When it comes to pictures of the kids, I'm on the fence. I'll send them to people I am comfortable with - in fact, three of the people who have previously commented have seen my kids Halloween pictures.

    Having gotten my "Ethical Hacking" cert, I know that privacy on the internet is a fallacy - especially when you're on Facebook or similar services where they really don't care about privacy.

    I believe that we should be able to control the access people we don't know or like to find us. Not out of the overblown fear of our kids being hurt by a stranger but simply because we should be able to control who we let in to our lives.

    This is the lesson our kids need to learn in order to be safe when they're of the age to be surfing the net. If I'm both showing and telling *ahem - writing joke* every detail of my life to the world, why would my kids think of doing differently?

    And that public information is part of how predators choose their victims. I used to run a very large internet site and had to deal with law enforcement on every sort of bad behavior you can imagine - and I know how creative you all are.

    So this doesn't mean that you should hide from the net but keep in mind that what you do make public is totally public.

    Ok, I've used up my word quota for this comment. I have plenty more to say on this - about a book's worth. :)

    -TG

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  13. Personally, I don't put my children's names or faces on the internet. I don't think someone will come get my kid, but I don't want to help them narrow their search when looking for super-smart, awesome kids. I let them talk in my blogs and I love to ask them questions. They might even write a story for my blog. But I won't put their names and faces up.

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  14. thanks for the feedback Draven. That's where I'm leaning to. More about that on my follow up post coming next Tuesday! :)

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