Honey, I unplugged the kids.

He’s here! Our beautiful son was born a month ago and we are so in love. We decided before he got here to keep him offline, and many have asked about our decision. Here’s what we decided on, and why…

1. No images

Trust me – he is beautiful (not that I’m biased!) But we have decided not to share pictures of his face on any online platform. We use a private app to share photos with family, and sometimes send little update photos to friends. The bottom line for that is whether we would ask the person to babysit – if not, no photos. We also ask people not to send any photos they have to anyone so that, again, only people of our choosing are in possession of images of our son.

2. No names

We are really proud of his name. It took us a while to choose it and it’s really meaningful to us! It won’t be found anywhere online – he’ll be referred to as ‘Baby B’ or other sweet nicknames.

3. No locations

We won’t be sharing, as per my normal guidelines, details or pictures of where we live, of nurseries or schools, of favourite places to hang out.

4. No personal information

We also won’t be sharing details of our son’s life. His birth date, funny stories, personal moments – the ins and outs of his life – will remain private.

I realise these measures may seem extreme to some, and in sharing them I am not judging anyone else’s choices. This is simply what works for us, for several reasons – the first being that we are fiercely protective of our family unit. Our marriage, and now our son, are what matter most to us. Also, part of my job involves digital communications and my postgraduate research centred around a child’s well-being in the digital age: this makes me cautious. I have also been stalked, off and online, and my experience means I will do everything I can to keep my family safe – this, for me, means exercising caution online. And finally, we both have public lives: Dan as an author and me as an activist/someone involved in media. Our son didn’t choose this, and we believe he should be given the right to complete privacy. Privacy and consent are our main drivers. Why?

Privacy – privacy is a precious gift that is not easily retrieved once lost. I’ve been so glad of mine, many times. By not sharing details of his life or pictures of our little one, this means he will go freely and safely into the world to carve out his own little life when he is ready. We don’t want him to be recognised by people he doesn’t know, or for information about this precious tiny person to be ‘out there’ had for anyone to access. And particular relation to images – we don’t want them to be owned by anyone we don’t trust: including companies/platforms.

Consent – our little one hasn’t yet worked out the difference between night and day: he isn’t ready to choose what of himself he’d like to share with the world! From the day he was born, he has been his own person, and until he can decide whether to be online or not, we will protect his agency. This is a matter of consent.

Digital footprint – I studied with someone who was once refused a placement at university because they were holding a beverage in their hand in their Facebook profile picture. It wasn’t clear what the beverage was, and she didn’t look any different in her photo to how I did in mine. Online content is permanent: we don’t want our son to grow up with a digital footprint linked to his name and involving photos from birth to high school graduation that will be viewed or tracked by people we don’t trust such as stalkers or fraudsters, or people who hold power around future opportunities.

I’d love to know what your thoughts on protecting your little ones’ privacy and consent. Is it something you feel strongly about? What do you do and how have you decided on that? Leave me a comment below or get in touch via social media!

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