Thinking About My Daughter’s Growing Digital Footprint

I’ve been thinking recently about L’s digital footprint. As someone who shares a big part of my life online – by association – a lot of her 3.5-years on the planet have also been publicly documented. This is something I’m increasingly worried about. By putting her out there, have I inadvertently impacted her future life? It’s difficult to tell right now, but it’s made me consider what changes I need to make in order to better protect her as she gets older.

Our digital footprint is created by what we do online – every photo uploaded, every ‘like’ given, every tweet written and every form filled in. Every interaction and action is recorded, logged and likely to remain forever – even when deleted afterwards. It’s become so easy to share things on the internet without thinking about the repercussions.

The likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram see us willingly share the fun and boring everyday moments with the world. Everything is so public and common sense often goes out of the window – for instance, some parents share back to school photos with their kid’s school badge clearly visible. I don’t wish to be sensationalist about it, but seeing their name, face and school could put their kid in danger when the intention was just to share a proud milestone with friends and family. It’s scary when you think about what we openly share.

I’ve always tried to remain a bit semi-anonymous when it comes to blogging. I don’t really advertise where we live or our surname – although both are probably out there. Similarly, when it comes to L, I’ve aimed to protect her name by just using an initial so that she can’t be Googled. This makes me feel better as I’ve put a few safety nets in place, but ultimately, it wouldn’t be difficult to find out these details if someone really wanted to. It’s not that hard to do a bit of digging.

And that’s the crux of the issue. I’ve purposefully shared information about us in the public domain for blog purposes. I don’t regret the individual stories or photos I’ve shared, but it’s pretty scary when you think about the amalgamation of this information and what it says about us. People are able to see places we visit, locations we’ve been on holiday, cars we’ve owned, stuff we have in the house, embarrassing stories, milestones achieved bla bla bla. As a blogger, I’ve actively chosen to do this, I made the decision to share my life in this way.

L hasn’t though. Because of me, she has a huge digital footprint and she’s not even reached 4-years old. Already, there’s thousands of photos of her online which are accompanied by blog posts documenting her growing up. She’s had no say in this whatsoever. Does that make me selfish? Am I irresponsible? Have I inadvertently put her at risk? Will she be bullied in the future because of it? Will she be embarrassed about what’s out there? Could it impact her when it comes to things like jobs or relationships?

I just don’t know. It’s unclear how our online decisions now will impact the future and how technology will play a role. All I know is that she has a much bigger digital footprint than she should do for her age – and that’s down to me. It can make you feel pretty shitty when you think of it like that. I’ve enjoyed documenting and sharing our lives in this way, but the uncertainty about what it means in the future – for L, particularly – worries me. Maybe I’ve been watching too much Black Mirror?!

So what does this mean? Well, I intend to make a few changes. The main one being that I’ve decided to stop sharing recognisable photos of L. She’ll continue to feature heavily – after all, The DADventurer is about my life as a dad – but in terms of photos, they won’t show her face. As she starts school in September and has lost that ‘all babies and toddlers look the same’ thing, I think it’s sensible to provide protection and anonymity. After all, she never asked to be plastered all over the internet.

With our little lad on the way, again, he’ll have an abbreviated moniker instead of his real name just to make it that bit more difficult if anyone ever wishes to search. I’m also going to be more cautious about what I share from the get-go – the likelihood is that I won’t be posting as many photos, and these will stop showing his face when he gets that bit older and more recognisable. Hell, he’s not even here yet and I’ve already shared his photo!

In reality, for those reading or occasionally perusing, it won’t feel like much has changed as the content will remain the same – you’ll probably just be looking at the back of L’s head rather than the front. I’ll kno w that it’s changed though. I feel like putting a stop to L’s growing digital footprint and not allowing the little lad’s to get out of hand, is an important decision to make and one I should have considered more when I started the blog. Still, we live and we learn, eh?!

What’s your views on your kid(s) digital footprint(s)? Is it something you worry about? Are you careful about what you and they share online? Let me know below.

  • Donna Wishart

    I think this makes complete sense and understand your reasons. So glad that L will still feature on the blog though 🙂 x

  • I’m having to do the same now although at my 6yo’s request. He doesn’t like it when his cousins or s not from school had a look. So my videos are now private and he’ll not be on the blog visually. I’m going to see if he’ll still let me add pictures of feet or hands etc but I think he’ll say no.

  • Simon Kirkman

    Very sensible. I’ve cut down my Facebook use since we had Baby A this year, although my profile picture does feature her, we don’t share many photos featuring her generally, and have a family WhatsApp group to share the photos to those who matter

  • I think about this all the time, and although I’ve put measures in place to protect certain aspects of T’s identity, it still worries me that he technically hasn’t consented (even if he has said yes to a photo – he has no idea where it’s going) and there’s no a TON of images out there.

    I think, like you, once he starts school we’ll cut it down if not completely remove facial images as I think he’s more aware (as will be his friends!) And I would be heartbroken if something I’d done had a detrimental effect on him.

    Great post. X

  • Mandi Morrison

    When I first started blogging my eldest was 13 and she has always told me what she is happy for me to share, the smaller ones not so much, however I really think it depends on what kind of blogger you are. I have never posted anything bad i.e. tantrums, being sick, pooing in the bath etc as I don’t think that is fair on my children. I do think as bloggers we are quite aware of things more than the ‘regular’ poster. I have seen some cringeworthy posts on social media from friends and even family members that make me sure their children will sue them when they are older 😉.

  • dadinlaw

    This is a thought provoking post. I’m very conscious of what information is available online regarding my son. Whilst there is vast amounts of extremely personal information shared on the internet every moment of every day, and my son’s digital existence is an infinitely small drop in that sea of info, it is out there and it is very difficult to get back. Also, he has not consented to anything being shared; in essence I am creating a life-long digital profile for him long before he can even function a computer.

    In my defence I am sure that his digital existence is, by his own design, likely to grow and develop in ways I cannot even begin to conceive of now. He is growing up in a world where the norm is to share every aspect of your social life and it is only getting more popular and more bizarre. He will create his own digital profile, likely with no reference to the profile I have created of him through my perceptions and experiences of fatherhood. As long as I’m sensible I do not think that I’m going to disrupt his life in any material way.

    As to the more concerning risks my attitude is that as long as that information is disclosed sensibly, i.e. with an eye to what could be gleaned from the timing and content of a post or photo, then the risks aren’t dissimilar to the everyday dangers we face as parents and can be managed without too much stress.

  • Victoria

    Great Post, Dave. This is something that as a parent blogger I have struggled with, too. And I am still not sure about it. To some degree, our children are growing up in a world with little privacy. i don’t believe that privacy is completely dead, but I do think that we can control what we put out there.

  • Jon Doolan

    What a great post. As a parent blogger this is something that I’ve thought a lot about. I didn’t think anything of sharing until a long conversation with the wife. We’ve agreed that I’ll only show photos where you can’t see her face too and I refer to her in public as the Sprog. The real decider was when you pumped my name into Google Images and a picture of the Sprog appeared. What really bugs the pair of us is that other people keep putting photos of her on Facebook or whatever without permission. I think our kids are going to grow up with their faces all over the internet whether we like it or not.

  • Lisa Cornwell

    I definitely think this is something that we ponder over all the time and something I have been thinking quite recently too. Zach doesn’t much like having his photo taken anymore and there’s a lot less photos of him now. But like you, I might try and be a bit more discreet about what I am taking and what I am sharing. Blogging is my job so I can’t jusy stop else I’ll have to go back to work! But there’s ways to go about it without revealing too much!