Why I Don't Share My Kids' Real Names OnlineDevan McGuinness
Silver — it’s a cute name, right? Silver is an adorable name for a baby boy, but just like Speed, Raru and Bean (my other kids), Silver is a pseudonym. And while I can’t say “never,” chances are I won’t ever share their real names online.
When I started writing online more than three years ago, I made the decision then to be respectful of my kids’ digital mark. It wasn’t something that my parents ever had to worry about, but it’s something that can’t be ignored today. I don’t see the age of social media, over-sharing and the Internet going away any time soon and for the first time, we’re seeing kids who are growing up with parent bloggers, Facebook, Instagram and Vine videos documenting their every move.
A survey done about online reputation in 2010 by Microsoft, revealed that 70 percent of job recruiters say they’d rejected applicants based on information they found online. On top of that, 85 percent of those in the Human Resource field who took part in the survey said that “positive online reputation influences their hiring decisions at least to some extent.” Recruiters and those in charge of hiring have not only reported on this survey that they do check online sources to learn about potential candidates, but they have moreover made online screening a formal requirement of the hiring process.
What does that have to do with my decision not to share my kids’ real names online?
Well, those job requiters use your first and last name in the search engines to check up on you — and for kids these days that can not only bring up what they’ve chosen to share online themselves, but what we — as lifestyle/parent bloggers have chosen to share about them. Potential employers can search your kid’s name and find out when they wet themselves at school, why they got in trouble with the principal, view unflattering bath photos or toilet training pictures. Recruiters can potentially read the stories on how your kid lost their cool in the line at Target or how you wish they would stop singing that annoying song. Sure, these likely won’t stop your child from getting the job, but who really knows what could put your kid just slightly behind another job seeker.
What we put online not only potentially affects our kids’ employment, but their dating and relationships as well. Could you imagine going on a date with someone new and they already know how long you wet the bed for or how you got that scar on your forehead? It’s like hearing those stories of parents pulling out those embarrassing kid photos from their personal photo album to show your partner when you bring them to meet your folks. Only, like a million times worse because anyone can search them out — anywhere. Hello, mortifying!
You can still share, just be aware!
I try to be aware of the kind of stories I share about my kids online out of respect for them. Yes, even an 8-year-old, 7-year-old, 5-year-old and 3-month-old deserve to have their stories shared (or not shared) with respect in mind. As a freelance writer I have chosen to share stories of our lives and want readers to be engaged and interested. There are times where I wish I could share a story or two because they’re relevant, funny or I could use support — but when it comes to my kids — their future and privacy matters more. I’m not always perfect and right when I decide what to share online and have no real safety in ensuring what I say won’t embarrass my child later on, but by keeping their real names offline — at least you can’t Google search their entire childhood.
:: What are your thoughts about sharing your kids’ information online. Yay or Nay? Share in the comments! ::
Photo credit: © Devan McGuinness
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