Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Keeping Our Kids Safe

I’ve always been aware of the risks associated with blogging about your family and being an active participant on social media platforms like FB and IG. I’ve been aware and until recently, I felt I was doing a good job of keeping my kiddos safe. I’ve done all the usual stuff we’ve all read about in regards to this kind of safety and I really thought I had all my bases covered. All my social media accounts are set to private, which is the most basic of safety measures. I use a pseudonym on IG and have an added name to my FB name to make searching for me a bit more difficult. I don’t accept friend/follow requests from anyone whose info I can’t stalk first, which I know is a bit hypocritical considering I too keep my profile private, but it is what it is. I don’t post the name, location or pictures of the name/location of things like my kid’s schools or where they participate in extracurricular activities, including the places we frequent. This can become super time consuming when you’re posting pics of things like the first day of school and having to blur out the name of the school 47 times, but it’s so important! I reference the state we live in on this blog, but never the city or neighborhoods we visit. You will never find a single picture of my babies adorable dimpled bu.tts or any other “private” body parts un.clothed online, because let’s face it – there are a whole lot of people out there who are creepy AF and that just terrifies me. I do my best to avoid using family and friends’ full names in my sharing of stories on my blog, assigning them initials or nicknames as often as possible. I block people who give me bad vibes and report any and all shady characters I come across on the interwebs, so I’m obviously doing everything I can to keep my precious babies safe, right? 

Wrong. So, wrong.

Below is a link to an article I feel is so important for every parent to read, as well as an explanation of how I came to the conclusion that I need to do better.

There are quite a few two mom families that make my list of favorites on Insta.gram. At the top of that list you will find - Fostermoms. I could do my best to describe who these mamas are and what they’re all about, but they do a much better job of that, she here’s how they describe themselves.

{We were emergency foster parents focused on reunification & providing short-term options for kids in care until we got a phone call for a tiny, 6 week old baby boy. 2 weeks later, we received a 2nd call for his 2 year old brother. Just as quickly we entered the world of adopting transracially from foster care. That was 2 1/2 years ago. Today, we're on our way to being a family of 5 as we welcome our boys' Big Sister. If you'd like to help us with that transition, we'd be so grateful. If you'd like to help us and level up your photography skills at the same time, you can learn more about that here.
We are visual storytellers, parents and educators writing from the intersections of transracial adoption, foster care and LGBT parenting. Contact at //}

 I follow the oh-so-inspiring and informative blog that these mamas write, and recently I read a blog post titled: Photos on the Internet: 5 Things EveryParent Needs to Know and it stopped me in my tracks and left a knot in the pit in my stomach. The article discusses the use (or misuse, rather) of certain types of hashtags and how doing something as simple as creating a hashtag of your child’s name can lead to things like digital kid.napping, and if you don’t know what this is, google it. It may be the creepiest and most unsettling trend growing on IG and similar platforms. Creating these types of hashtags was something I was guilty of doing and since reading the FM article, I’ve spent several hours deleting the hashtag I created with our son’s name and I still have about 50 captions to edit... I take a lot of pictures people, so there’s lots to correct. FM’s go on to discuss the risks associated with facial recognition, geotags (location based services on things like your smart phone) that add a snippet of data to your photos that show the exact longitude and latitude of where the photo was taken; as well as algorithms and future implications for over-sharers like me, if you don’t take precautions to better protect your kiddos now.

The details included in the Fostermoms article on each of these topics not only addresses the concern, but it gives detailed instructions on how to do things like change privacy settings to better protect your family.

Again, please read the blog post!

The question we’re left with is this – will taking these added precautions completely protect our kids and our families online? The simplest of answers to that question is, no – it won’t. Just as there is no way to keep our little ones 100% safe when we drop them off at school, leave them with a babysitter, or let them stay at a friend’s house. There will always be risk involved when raising tiny humans. That’s part of what makes it so damn stressful sometimes (and likely why I now have 3 gray hairs… THREE, you guys)!

What these tips are meant to do is raise awareness of the risks that are out there and give direction on what you can do as a parent to minimize those risks.

Props to Fostermoms for adding to this dialogue. Because of you, I would now consider myself woke. So, thanks!

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Thanks so much for keeping up with our little family! We love reading your comments and will get back to you as soon as we can.

K+G+g+w ♥

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