“On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”

Except–that’s not true anymore. Social media killed Internet anonymity. That can be both good (it’s a lot harder to be an asshole online and get away with it) and bad (no more anonymous soul-bearing). Since I am blogging about parenting and my family, I have to decide if I want to use real names.

I rarely post photos of my child on my Instagram. If I do, they’re usually from behind, at a weird angle, from a long distance, or heavily filtered through Prisma. Facebook is a different story. I’m constantly hearing from relatives I barely get to see in real life how much they love seeing photos of my son on Facebook. As long as he doesn’t object, I’ll continue to post those.

Thanks, Prisma, for allowing me to share this image of my son pulling his wagon without guilt about posting his face all over the Internet.

Something feels off-putting about the mommy insta-celebrities who constantly post photos of their children to shill products. I try not to be judgmental about others’ parenting unless they’re harming themselves or others. This is not a “mommy wars” blog.

I’m using my own real name, and I’ll refer to my fiancé as my fiancé until mid-September, when he becomes my husband. But what about my kid? Calling him “my kid” feels weird. What if I have another kid? I’m not going to use his real name. I actually had a post written about why I was going to use it, and then I changed my mind. I don’t think it’s worth it.

Safety is one reason. If someone wanted to find his real name, they can. It’s 2018. But I don’t want to make it easier for them. I’m also concerned about bullying. While I’d rather kids be taught not to bully, I’d hate for a bully to find an upcoming post on potty training and use it as bullying material.

Because I don’t want to keep calling him “my kid” I’ve decided to use a made-up name for him. Henceforth he shall be called “Indy” for his independent nature. It’s not his real name. It’s not even similar to his real name. As a fake internet pseudonym coined by his mother, it suits him.

Parents, do you post photos of your kid or use their real name publicly online? Why or why not?


10 thoughts on “Anonymity, Kids, and The Internet

  1. In this new day and age with our online presence starting from a young age, you are looking at it the right way. My sister is s manager for a large temp agency. She told my niece from the time before she even got into high school that she should have one set of accounts for family, and professional posts. Yeah, explain to a 12-13 year old that what they say on the internet may come back to haunt them. So she did she has her main Facebook, Twitter, instagram, LinkedIn, and any other flavor of the month where she is careful about what she says and pictures she posts. Now that she is a few months from completing college she is prepared should that employer ask, what’s your Facebook.


    1. While I don’t think employers should be poking around in employees private facebook accounts, anything public is fair game. It’s such a different internet than it was when I was in middle school. Probably a good thing!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I post the occasional picture of my Granddaughters on Twitter. I don’t use their names. I used to worry about such things until I saw how much personal information their parents post online. I guess it’s a generational divide based on differing notions of privacy and sharing data.

    My wife isn’t such a fan of the online world and allows me to refer to her in my posts only as Mrs Peril. Photos of her are strictly verboten. I don’t tend to post pictures of myself either, not that I don’t like my appearance, but because I don’t see what bearing it has upon my writing.

    I do write using my own name and made that choice a few years into blogging. I felt that using my in-game handle was okay for a simply MMO fan blog, but when I started broadening the scope of my writing, felt it was more honest to be me.

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  3. My guess is that when today’s children grow up, concerns like these will seem as quaint and peculiar to them as our parents concerns did to us. Only more so.

    That said, every generation exhibits huge internal variety so a subset will certainly recoil from living an open online existence. And the generation that follows this one may reject it almost entirely, as new generations are wont to do.

    There’s a fair chance, though, that this really is a step-change in human behavior, if not human evolution, assuming there turns out to be some truth in the belief of certain neuroscientists that screen usage at a formative age is fundementally altering brain development. If that’s true then this generation may not even be what we recognize as human any more.

    Personally, I don’t use any social media, don’t use my own name online except where it’s mandatory and never post pictures of myself. (Ok, once…). I also refuse to tell most people I know in the outside world my online identity or the name of my blog. My co-workers know I blog but even though some have tried none have yet tracked me down.

    My step-children are too old for this to have been relevant. They had all left home by the time MySpace became a thing, let alone Facebook. They are all on FB but since I’m not I can’t say how much or how little they display themselves. My wife likes me referring to her as Mrs Bhagpuss because she thinks it’s funny. She is, of course, also a gamer, so the whole blogging identity thing is very familiar to her anyway.

    I’m not sure there’s a right or wrong way to do any of this. Probably best to do whatever feels comfortable and deal with any issues as they arise.


    1. My parents gave me unrestricted access to the Internet in middle and high school. It was dial-up and slow. I don’t know if it was the best decision, but it’s how I ended up with the career I have now. I don’t know what I’d be doing if I hadn’t had that as a kid. Doesn’t mean I didn’t see some stuff I probably shouldn’t at that age.


  4. I also tend to minimize mentioning kids by name. I usually refer to them as “oldest”, “youngest” and “middle.” More descriptive than anything else.

    I’m also easy to identify, many accounts with my real name are attached to this username, which I’ve been using for many years now.


  5. I’ve posted pictures of my son on my blog, but have never used his name. I usually was also using him to try out various photo editing software. He was fine with that, but anything on Facebook has to have his approval, which makes sense. These kids will have their whole lives potentially available online. That seems unwise, but it will be common going forward.


  6. If I do write about my child, she is referred to as “my daughter.” My daughter is a big part of my world but I tend to not talk about her directly in my blog. My writing in the past has been more my story than anything else. I do not post pictures of my daughter, or myself for that matter. What would I gain by doing that? I enjoy sharing my adventures and can do so through the art of word.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. On here I don’t use my son’s real name or his pictures although I use them freely on Facebook because I feel ‘safe’ on that platform- my friends and family are the only ones that are on my profile so they know us anyway. I’ve seen some vicious trolls on here and I’ve heard some terrible horror stories, better to be safe than sorry!


  8. I don’t have kids (yet) but when I do, I’m going to try and minimize photos of the kids online. I too feel very uncomfortable seeing influencers posting photos of their kids, especially if it’s a sponsored post :\

    Liked by 1 person

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