Digital Footprint?


My 6 year old son, Little Bit, steps into a cardboard boat he’s just made with the help of my sister’s boyfriend (The Ginger). As The Ginger steps in, the boat begins to capsize and hilarity ensues. I’ve captured the cardboard boat races, complete with sinking boats, family cheers and heckling on my little waterproof sport camera in crystal clear definition.

The race concludes and I ask The Ginger for his permission to upload the video to YouTube. After a brief moment’s consideration he replies, “Sure, as long as you don’t use my name. I’ve managed to keep my digital footprint pretty invisible so far and I’d like to keep it that way.” Not a problem, I have no issue keeping his name private!

Imagine my thrill of anticipation as I eagerly upload the video….perhaps this could be my very first viral clip!

As any seasoned poster knows to do, I took a moment to review the video again and make sure I’m comfortable with the public content share. Then it dawns on me, we’re repeatedly calling out both The Ginger’s and Little Bit’s names. Am I labeling them on the video? No. Last names? No. But their names are there, nonetheless.

The Ginger’s privacy aside, I’m faced with a connundrum I’m sure many parents face. I have a strong desire to publicly share the video, partially out of pride for my amazing child and partially for the ease of spreading the video to my friends and family. Too tired at the moment to edit out the use of their names, I set the video private and give myself a day or two to ponder the rammifications of posting it, both with and without the use of their names.

I’m accustomed to sharing pictures, videos and events of my son’s lives through my private and trusted core list of friends I have on Facebook. Outside of Facebook though, all videos of my children are set to private and any pictures I’ve posted of my kids are referred to only as “Big Bit” and “Little Bit”. Far beyond the issues I’ve already considered of my own personal privacy and my ability to teach my boys how to filter themselves online, I now have to think about their individual privacy preferences.

My boys may very well grow up to be as comfortable being public as I am. Or, they may grow up to be intensely private . Perhaps they’d like to have a high security clearance job someday or maybe they’d just like to keep future stalker girlfriends from discovering every little moment of their childhood. Either way, they’re too young at the moment to fully understand this decision. As their Mama, I have to take that extra step to provide them with the chance to  make that choice for themselves.

So, my decision at the moment is to keep it private until such time that I can edit out their names. Busy as I am, I may or may not get to it. I’ll continue to keep videos, names and most pictures behind a privacy wall, carefully selecting which content I’m comfortable being available for public consumption.

My blogger parent friends, what is your take? Where do you draw the privacy lines for your children?

In the mean time, here’s a pic of Little Bit in his boat:

  1. That is a tough one.. I don’t envy you trying to protect your kids in today’s world. I know my parents went through some pretty tough struggles when I became a published author at 16. On one hand, I had to market my book and myself as an author… on the other, I was only people I’ve 16 and marketing meant putting myself out there in a big way. It has been a balancing act, but I have been so pleasantly surprised by how few “icky” experiences I’ve had. Most were so easily dealt with, all I had to do was block them on twitter or email. Mostly all I’ve found is terrific people who support me in what I’m doing.

    Just a note here tho…neither my twin or I even had a facebook until I became an author. Too many people have had problems that started from unsafe behavior online.

    You are doing a great job and more then most. I don’t think many parents even think to notice about calling out the other children’s names in a video. Way to go! 🙂 You can’t ask for a better friend than that.

    • Thank you! At the moment we haven’t had to worry about them having Facebook accounts yet. They haven’t shown much interest. It’s hard because I feel most teens (and even adults!) have trouble using it wisely – yet it’s become an ingrained part of our culture. Things you do online can affect you permanently and children/teenagers are ill equipped to consider the ramifications of permanence.

  2. Yesterday, my 13 year old niece was over playing with my 9 and 8 year old daughters. She was signing them up for a children’s game site. No need for an email, but only a username. I balked. I’m just not there yet.

    • We have Nick.com accounts. I’m ok with that. Big Bit is on WoW with his dad, but only plays when his dad is online. These days, this social layer of online is a critical part of little boys lives. For me, these situations are just about monitoring their use.

  3. This is a struggle for us as well. We try not to post anything public. I don’t usually use anything identifiable on my blog, but it is no real secret who I am. My employers know, my friends and family know. I do think about what I post and if 20 years from now my kiddos would be mad at me. This is a completely different phenomena than what we grew up with. This is different than embarrassing photos of us as awkward kids. There is the potential for audio and video evidence for all to see.
    At the same time, my wife contends that within 5 years everyone’s pic will be online. Lots of schools and groups are now posting pics online without permission (without names). It is the convenient way to share photos with the whole group by posting to Facebook or Snapfish or whatever. It is a little scary. I often wonder if our “uptightness” is equivalent to how people felt about the phone or some other piece of technology.
    Somehow I think this may be different.
    Great post. I don’t always comment, but I love your blog!

    • I know that I have to sign release forms for the classroom teachers to use my sons pictures on their websites. I think they work pretty hard at respecting privacy that way.

      I’d rather be a bit uptight than have something come back and smack us later. Like you it’s not a secret who I am. My main goal is to keep it so that when you Google their names, nothing comes up relating to them.

  4. Hello Techsavvy! I know I never comment to any of your blogs but I just wanted to say that I love every single one of them. What a fantastic blogger you are. Filled with awesomeness!!

    • Thank you! I appreciate the comment AND the compliment. It’s good to hear that people enjoy them. I’ve got about 4 more posts outlined, I just need to sit down and finish them!

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