Thoughts On Protecting My Children Online

Yesterday Luke was asking all sorts of questions about his "baby Wes" and we started to talk about how Luke was once a little, tiny baby. Tiny enough to fit in my belly! His face lit up and his eyes began to twinkle.
"Do you want to see pictures of yourself when you were a baby and in mommy's belly?" I asked him.
"YEAH!!!" he replied.
So, he sat in my lap and we scrolled through all of my old blog entries—all the way from having a baby bump, to the eensy-weensy newborn pictures, to the first time he started walking. In that moment, I realized I have captured so many incredible moments and firsts I would have otherwise brushed to the side in my mind, where they would collect cobwebs and become hazy memories. I am so grateful I have kept this blog and put the time and energy it takes to photograph all the moments and write out all the feelings.
However, there is a darker side to putting your life out there on the internet. Lately, so many of my blogging friends who are mothers have had their children's photos stolen and used for creepy, fake role-play accounts. And who knows what other hellish ways those photos are being warped and inappropriately used. I cannot even begin to let my mind go there.
But, all of this has me seriously contemplating where I stand on blasting photos of Luke and Wes onto the internet. I find so much joy in sharing our life—the tender and sweet times, and the frustrating, I-want-to-rip-my-hair out times. I love being able to be a voice for issues to which many mothers and women deeply feel and relate, but may be too afraid to say on their own.
Where do I draw the line? When do I pull the plug?
These are questions I ask myself every day. I have thought a grip load about how I can share those personal feelings and moment as a mother, but keep Luke and Wesley's life a little more secure and private. This is after all a mom blog, and obviously I am a mother because of them, but I feel like there is a way to keep the focus more about how I feel about this stage of motherhood, versus it being all about the boys' lives.
Am I making any sense? I feel like this is such a sticky subject of debate. There is the whole side of, "the world is full of ugliness and cruelty, and you shouldn't shelter yourself and your children because of it—share your life if that's what makes you happy and realize life needs to continue on and don't let the junk get to you." And then there is the opposing side of, "the world is too open now and it is your number one priority to make sure your children are not out there AT ALL if you care about them—you are a crap parent if you disagree."
You picking up what I am putting down here? I am so torn. Like I said, I love sharing our life, but the more these gross things happen the more inclined I am to put a halt on that aspect of it. There was a wonderful article written here about how to share your life while keeping your kid's protection in mind, and I really like the points that were made. I am trying to put them into practice and be more mindful of what types of pictures I post to Instagram and here on the blog. I absolutely refuse to post photos of them anymore where they are solely in their diaper or underwear, or without a shirt. I am trying to focus more on taking photos which only partially show their faces if they are the only one in the picture, and I really try to make it a point to be in the pictures with them if we are all smiling and looking at the camera. (Apparently those are less targeted?)
Either way, I care about their safety. I don't want them growing up with some weird complex or hating me for putting their lives out for the world to see without their permission. I am not going to stop blogging or make any hard and fast declarations about never posting another picture of my boys again. But I am going to be more careful about specific things I say about them and be more thoughtful of the pictures I do post of them. I feel good about that in my heart and know it is the right thing to do for our family.
So, I am curious about your thoughts on this. Are you a mom? Do you have nieces and nephews who are out there? How do you feel about children's pictures being shared on social media, even if it is just a private account? I am really interested to know the different viewpoints on this matter, so don't hold anything back! Let's talk about this. It's something that needs to be discussed!
Also, thank you for coming back here to read my blog again and again. I truly do cherish the friendships I have made with you and I love the happy side of this online community. There is much goodness to be shared! Thanks for supporting that. Lots of love and hugs to you, and you, and you!
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