Single parent families and their online presence

As a single parent, what are your thoughts on posting photographs and other information of your family online? Facebook, MySpace, Twitter: there are so many online communities where members can share photos and memories, and so many people doing it, that it’s become the norm.

Years ago, people were too scared to use their credit cards when buying things over the internet, but now it’s become second nature to quickly go online and order the latest John Grisham novel or set of patio furniture. And the same can now be said of online communities – go out for drinks with your friends and you can almost guarantee that within a few minutes, whoever brought their Smartphone with has already posted at least two pictures of everyone, complete with tags and a snappy heading, onto their Facebook profile.

Do you do the same thing with your children? A beautiful, sunny day at the park – do you take pictures and then go home and upload one or two choice photos onto your Facebook or MySpace account? Or if you also have a Smartphone, do you upload them immediately, or MMS them to other family members?

There is nothing wrong with this – just as long as you’ve taken the correct precautions and protected your account from random visitors being able to view your profile and photographs. Without trying to be a fearmonger and freaking out every single parent who reads this, I don’t mean that any photo that is posted of your child or family online is going to end up on a pervert’s screen, but for your own sake you should make sure that you’ve updated your security settings so that only your friends can see those beautiful family photos.

I have whole albums on Facebook dedicated to my son, and my friends love commenting on the photos. They’ve got albums for their own children, and I love commenting in turn. What we have all done, though, is made sure that only we can see these pictures – only the people that we deem good enough to be friends with on Facebook, people we see or at least communicate with regularly, can access these photos. One thing that I do make sure of, though, is that I don’t post any photos of my son that show him naked – even though I know who sees the pictures, I still don’t feel comfortable with that, especially as he gets older.

So as a single parent, do you do the same thing? If your children are older, in their teens, and desperate for their own online accounts, do you make sure that their security settings are set up appropriately, and do you also keep an eye on your kids’ pages? Without becoming a spy, it is definitely possible to make sure that your children are safe online. Setting up an online profile with your email address as the main contact point is the best way to do it – and if the kids don’t appreciate you getting emails every time someone sends them a message or posts on their wall, then you can once again return to those same account and security settings and turn off that feature – while leaving on the one that shows whenever someone has sent a friend request. Those are the kinds of things that are just non-negotiable when it comes to trusting your child online – you want to know who they are friends with.

As a single parent, you are their go-to person when it comes to answering your kids’ questions and helping them out, making sure that they do the right things. Making all of the decisions on your own can be quite hard, because it means that you don’t have someone else to bounce any ideas off. But being a single parent also means that you are in complete control of everything around you.

What are your views on this? Do you share photos of your kids online? Do you allow them to maintain their own online identities?