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BlogHer08 – Public Parenting & Privacy – Liveblog of session

standard July 18, 2008 7 responses

Session speakers: Chris Jordan, Shannon Lowe, Crystal McKee, Shino Tanaka, and Shireen Mitchell.

Crystal – Pretty open with her blog. Doesn’t hide much, uses real names, posts pictures, never had problems until recently. 15 yo son was missing for 10 years. When she got him back and started telling his story, people reacted saying that she was abusing him by sharing story.

Tanaka – Two blogs, one private one public. Was police officer in Bay Area. Perspective on social networking and police.

Chris Jordan – When started 4.5 years ago, didn’t use real names, not for protection but to keep them Google proof. Didn’t think more of that. She really didn’t think people would read her blog. Miles, the baby, is the only one whose name is public.

Shannon – Conscious of kids safety . 9 & 11 – kids aware of what happens. – Her goal was to have them think be OK with her blog when they become adults – Wants them to think it’s well written and respected them and kept them as #1 priority . She shows pictures but no faces.

Question for the audience – Safety for kids? What comes to mind first?
Sex predators
Not embarrassing them
Photos without permission – people stealing them or taking faces to put them on other photos.
Worry bout getting something in the mail. – if they can get address what else can they know?
Future implications for them – job interviews career, or anything else.
Questioning your parenting – you and ability to be a parent.
Legal issues – people in legal battles blog being used against you.
Violating their trust – some things not being kept secret.

Shannon– Why don’t show pictures? Concerns?
Decision was made with her husband. He’s more private than she is. For his comfort level and to help him accept the blog. She’s a private person too. It’s not bad to be over cautious. The Internet is what it is. People find out what they want. Being private is less of a safety issue and more a boundary. Compartmentalization is her safety net. If she slips up and reveals too much she finds comfort in the added barrier. Manny people fall on different spots on the privacy line. What they do works for them . It’s a very personal choice and she wouldn’t criticize a mom for a decision she makes on that.

Chris – What she blogs is small portion of life. When does share stories it’s just a small portion. She worries about what will kids think of what she chooses to publish. One reader insists on putting Chris’s husband’,s name, address and contact info in EACH comment section of each blog she writes. It’s why she moderates comments. She’s not worried about the person, she knows it’s just a power thing.
She’s had kid’s photos taken and posted other places. She finds them. She watermarks them and has a private flickr account. She’s not going to live in fear. People get around it security boundaries, but you don’t stop.

Crystal – It’s not hard for people to find anything if they want it. Fortunately she hasn’t had anything negative happen yet. She checks with her son; if something makes him uncomfortable she pulls it. She wants to protect her integrity. She’s fortunate to have a great, supportive readership. Just one person who thinks she’s a “wack job.”

Shino – Anytime our kids are involved it’s a Big Deal. End of story. That said, the concern about stranger danger is very real. Govt collects data. 800 000 kids are abducted every year. 82% by people we know: family, pool cleaner, car washer – it speaks volumes. Knowing that puts her mind at ease. WHOA.org, working against abuse on internet, took data from 2007 – 2200 people took a questionnaire – cyber stalking = 50% from people you know.
S0, be cautious about what you put out there. What have you given up so far?
Watermarking great idea.
But, if people really want it, they’ll get it. So just be aware.
Educate yourself about how the internet works and how searches work. Get better understanding, that’s how you can best protect yourself.

Shireen – Writes for Digital sisters and has come across moms so scared of internet that they unplug themselves. Stranger Danger more scary than world around them. It’s a problem. Statistics important, but also education. Disconnecting the child = no access to internet for education. Need to understand what balance means for each of us. Cutting yourself off completely isn’t safe or good.

Poll – Based on all issues above – Show of hands: What’s most important to you:
Opportunities for kids future – 5 hands
Violating trust – 5 hands
Sexual predators – 20 hands
Questioning parenting – no hands
Pictures w/out permission – 30 hands
Kidnapping – 3 hands
Embarrassing your child – 10 hands
Legal implications – 3 hands

Top – taking pics and sex predators

Crystal – She’s more worried about creepy guy across street than the readers. Very protective of kids in real life. Kids don’t walk to school. She’s always very aware of what they’re doing. As far as herself online very open. And pictures? She can’t ever get anything but back’s of head, so it’s not an issue.

Shannon – Pics taken and photoshopped and then emailed to her kid with profane content. It was unerving to say the least. Things happen, but now she is more aware that there are creepos with photoshop skills. It made her thankful that has set the limits she set at the start. And it has forced her to become a more creative as a photographer. In fact, some of her favorite shots are from behind.

Question from audienceMimi on the Breach – Ran a poll about blogging privacy – Most people who answered wish they hadn’t given URL about family, or name of employer. It’s good to be careful about protecting their families, but sometimes there are broader issues, more personal reasons. Privacy is bigger than this idea of keeping kids safe.

Chris – The internet isn’t private. People find stuff.

Attack of Redneck Mommy – Don’t write what you don’t want to cop to owning or you wouldn’t say to your mom to her face. They are in the process of adopting, and she didn’t give the link to her blog, but didn’t hide it. The adoption people found it and because of what they read they almost didn’t get approved. The reviewer didn’t like the style of humor and thought maybe she wouldn’t be an appropriate parent. Tanis didn’t think being so honest would kick her in the ass. Blogging has had interesting ramifications. She’s still backpedaling and recovering from that. They are in the process of adopting and fostering a little boy and she can’t write about it because it might backfire.

Mom without a Map
– At what point did you change, go from writing for family to writing to others? Is there a time when you can still change it to be private without it seeming odd? Do you go through every page, entry by entry? Do you take down old content?
Shino:Find and replace, it’s the only thing.
Though, one caveat, if you’ve posted something, it can still be searched. Once Google picks it up they can hold on to it. If you put it out there it’s out there, you can’t take it back. Trust your gut. Be more conservative at first.

Audience member – People are catching on that they can be searched and are using more alias’. When you register a domain name you need to put name and address, it becomes public record. If you are worried then use alias or business name when registering a domain name.
Shino – Understand the tools! Software exists that can block your IP address or your address and email.

Shireen – You can purchase software that makes your domain private. Can also use a PO box instead of address.

Audience member – What happens if you didn’t think you were going to attain popularity? You want to retain your anonymity. What if you get interviewed by a magazine or invited to be a panelist? How can you promote yourself and still maintain boundaries?
Shannon – She uses her last name everywhere except on her blog. For her blog it’s more about Google search than keeping herself private. When you become a writer you put yourself out there, it’s part of the gig.
Shino – She has a public and a private blog and tries to keep them separate.
Shireen – You can use pen names. Abbreviations of names, or initials. User names too. Use those to promote yourself instead of your real name.

Audience member – Question about how to use children’s names – Her kids have unusual names to go with their common last name. It’s easy to Google them. As a tech worker she’s told she should have a Web 2.0 resume to promote herself. Once you hit her on Linked In you’re done, you know everything about her. She wants to keep her kids safe, but she needs to promote herself to eat. Needs to have a job, needs to promote herself, but now people berate her for exploiting her kids. Hard to find a balance.

Audience member – The risk of putting kids online is worth it. When Crystal talks about her kids, she’s teaching them not to be ashamed about stuff. It’s OK to be human and fallible. Woman at playgroup too worried about seeming proper. Crystal is giving her son the lesson that it’s OK to be honest and true. There is something good about mommy blogging. We shouldn’t protect to the point of denying that to our kids.
Crystal – Believes in the goodness of people. Nothing wrong with being honest.

Audience member – Are we concerned because it’s part of our core and how we behave? Are our spouse having same concerns? Husband way more concerned, and yet, she’s worried for his sake and everyone’s sake. In the relationship who’s more concerned? Do you have a burden to worry more than your spouse?

Heather – Desperately Seeking Sanity– She’s been in Internet since start, so her kids have grown up in that world (9 & 11) have 7 computers, so when they go places and met blog friends on the way her kids are very used to it. Both kids have email addresses, the older one has a My Space page. But she has rules. Mom has the passwords. They can’t chat with people they don’t know in real life. Her fear is that her kids will see her meeting strangers and wonder why they can’t do the same. So, how do we educate our own kids? How much comes from us? How do we set an example in a digital age?

Audience member – Our kids are growing up with the Internet. Our fears won’t concern them when they are grown up. It’s part of their world and won’t be a big deal for them.

Crystal: She has no privacy, her pastor and boss read her blog. If she can’t say it to you, she doesn’t say it. Hasn’t had any backlash from being very honest – just great outpouring of love and support.

Chris: Don’t keep it a secret from your kids. Be open. Parents are allowed to do things kids can’t do. It’s OK.

Shannon: When blogging is a part of a mother’s life and the family’s life it interjects dialog about Internet safety. Use connections made to generate great discussions. Now kids are more educated about it. It’s important to take advantage of it as an educational tool.

Audience member – If someone creepy wants to come after you online they’ll have to work hard. Easier to follow you home from the grocery store. She’s had people email her to say that they saw her kid’s pictures and to have her check. If we all watch each other’s backs, we can keep each other safe.

Audience member – She’s a political blogger who posts about Choice issues. She got pregnant and other blogger took her ultrasound picture and photoshopped it to put a helmet on baby and said it needed to be protected because she might abort it in the 8th month. How does she link both sides: parenting and political?

Shireen – All of our choices are individual, we can discuss as a group, but in the end we have to make the choices that work for us.
Educating our kids big thing that came from this discussion. We need more education and dialog with our kids. Have to think about what’s happening in our community. We have to set our boundaries.
We also have to remember that phones have Internet and photos. Kids need to know what they do has effects on everyone.

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