Using Kids’ Real Names in Blogging

Now that we are a whole 10 days into the real portion of our trip and starting to take the blogging seriously, I’m starting to wonder whether we shouldn’t use aliases for our kids’ names.  David’s thought has always been – there is nothing on the blog that we want to hide from.  It is us.  I think that is a fair decision for us, but I’m starting to question it for our children.  Shouldn’t they be allowed to create their own digital world?  Does 15 year old Carter really need anyone to know that he used to sleep with a stuffed animal called Little Bear?  Does job seeking 21 year old Bennett really want his employer to know that we used to call him Mr. Mayor because he is the only extrovert among us?  One solution is to obviously take down the blog as they get older.  However, I have seen  other bloggers use aliases.  I saw some cute ones last night, Data, Storybird, Monster Man, Cat and Dog.
I’m not a network news watching doom sayer that thinks that crime is rising (it’s not) and that there are bad people around every corner (mostly super nice ones).  However, now that the blog is being seen by non friends and family, I wonder about someone coming up to Bennett and saying “Hey, I hear you like rocks, come over to may scary van with no windows and I’ll show you some.  Your mom and dad, David and Betsy, said it was OK.  Your brother, Carter, is already over here.”  Bennett is a pretty bright kid and we talk about different scenarios a bit, but he might fall for that one.  I don’t see any of that as a likely occurrence, but it is a stronger possiblitity with a web presence than without one.
David’s more worried about identity theft for us.  One of my goals at the next fast internet place is to invest in a simple credit monitoring service for the year.  I might even see if I can get a free one from Target due to their recent difficulties.  (I did use my card during the time frame, but have seen no problems.)
What are your thoughts on aliases vs. real names for children?  I’m going to send this to a few family bloggers too to get ideas.


11 thoughts on “Using Kids’ Real Names in Blogging

  1. There is a program called “wayback” that actually can grab old Internet data, blogs, posts, and sites. The stuff lives forever and good for you for thinking thru this.

    It’s probably not a bad idea to give them an alias that is consistent. I have a friend whose husband works for the UN and would no way want to be implicated in any online personal blogs. So when she tell stories he is just “H.”

    But I would hire Carter’s even if his bear was named “Little.”


  2. Such a good discussion . . . take my opinion keeping in mind that my website has just a handful of readers, most of them well known to me. I’m with you that it’s not a creeper/crime thing, but its more of just an ounce of anonymity in an ever growing public and digital world. Does everyone need to know those level of details about me? I don’t know. I do know plenty of well known bloggers, and people that I respect that use their children’s names. I do know that my oldest is pretty mortified when I mention her, even in code, so that might be something to keep in mind as the boys get older, too. Happy trails both on the road and blogging! 🙂


  3. we don’t refrain from calling your kids by their real names when they are running in the mall or on a soccer field or playground. My sense is that this is a public space, and the stories you tell here are meant to be consumed in public, so regarding the story angle and life later, keep it real. The other stuff seems built on a sense of security that anonymity can protect us. These days, if someone wants to get your identity or stalk you or do any of the things that still occur in small numbers, I’m not certain that alias will help much there.


  4. This is a really great discussion, and one that I’ve been thinking about in terms of my own blogging. I agree with Orrin that the Internet is the new town square; I’m not going to call my kids by aliases at the grocery store, so why would I on my blog? Interestingly, I gave other people’s children aliases (Munchkinface, Monchichi, Snickerdoodle) because I can’t make those decisions for them.

    As for “Ermahgerd, maaaaa, SO embarrassing!”, well, they are going to do that no matter what. I’m slightly more concerned at this point that there’s too much cussing on my blog for my children’s teachers/friends/friends’ parents. I’m banking on the fact that not very many people read my blog and the ones who do are mostly Internet friends already.

    I understand the security issue of a stranger knowing seemingly intimate details about your family, but somebody you meet and hang out with once around the fire at the campground could also easily glean that kind of information if they were really looking for it.

    TL;DR: Don’t let fear of the unknown hamper your freedom. This blog is your travel journal and a really awesome project for your whole family. Enjoy it. Love you.


    1. I’m with Cookie.
      So, this might sound ignorant but how are real names on a blog much different from real names on Facebook? I am more concerned with addresses connected to names. And your blog doesn’t create an invitation to find you before you get places so you don’t have that to worry about.

      I put naked butt pictures of my kids on Facebook. I figure they will be pretty hard to find by future employers and if they do, what can they say but “nice toddler butt.”
      Of course none of this worries me in Japan but when I move back to crazyland, I expect to become a bit of a worrier.
      Continue on, awesome thoughtful mama.


  5. A few years back I made the mistake of putting my second born’s picture and name on a facebook post. He was livid! His elementary school had done a very thorough (!) job of warning kids about Cyber-safety and to have his own mother rashly put his pic and name where just anyone could see it…well, it sent him right over the edge. I (try really hard to) no longer use their names (but will use initials instead of nicknames) on FB and will certainly not post pictures without their permission.


  6. Since you have been thinking about this Betsy & David – – Probably best to use nick names and they could change and you can give hints to the reader about who it really is. Could be clever and fun. Your sons are too special to take any chances at all—-and you came up with it….


  7. Ever think about using names such as, my husband, my oldest boy or girl, my dog. Or better yet, just write a short story and call it fiction.


  8. Well, Orrin kind of nailed it for us and then Cookie brought it home. This is us. This is Carter, this is Bennett, Betsy and David.

    We have had many conversations with the boys about various situations, have family passwords in place, and, in general, feel good about our level of preparedness. The good news for the worriers among you is that 95% of the time they are together and they carry walkie talkies with us as the base.

    By the way, we, of course, asked the children for their opinions first and they currently like the idea of using their real names. I briefly tried to sell them on using code or spy names and they weren’t interested.


  9. I vote for the aliases. Why? Because when I was blogging away on The Island, it was found and all kinds of people who knew me were reading it and it felt so invasive. I never thought it would feel that way, but it did, and B. and C. may feel that way later.

    Also, because my dear friend Ruby, who is 7 and lives in New Orleans, was approached by strangers at a parade IN ST. LOUIS MISSOURI who recognized her from her mother’s blog (her mother was not with her), through 7 degrees of separation.

    I’m with you on not sounding alarms, but … why not? Everybody who knows y’all will know exactly who they are by nicknames.


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