In a previous article — Take Your Children Offline NOW — we discussed low-self esteem parents that publish images of their children on their blogs and websites in order to feel better about their station in the world. Those parents value the self-promotion of — “Look What I Made!” — over the need to protect the privacy of their underage offspring. Today, there’s a next cowardly wave of parental privacy trumping childhood innocence indicated in parents that actively choose to hide behind their children online.
You may have witnessed this parental trend when people post messages without using their real name — they use a fake name to hide their identity — and if you click on their username, their information is marked private and withheld from public view.
Some of those private users create usernames based on the names of their children instead of using their own name. A few examples I’ve seen online include, “ZachsMom” and “CharlottesMom” and “BobbysDad.”
What is the point of hiding your identity — yet exposing the name of your child to the world?
It’s pretty easy for determined people to track down your online persona and then connect it to the real you — so why not use your own name and own your words online instead of placing your child at risk?
Why offer up the name of your child to total strangers in order to falsely protect your own identity?
Websites dedicated to preventing child abduction argue parents should not write the child’s name on anything the child wears or uses — like a hat or a backpack.
Abductors like to use the child’s first name to create intimacy, trust and familiarity — so why would any parent willingly provide the name of their child to an anonymous internet with confirmed lurkers and unknown wants and perversions?
Some may argue it is a stretch to link online usernames to child abduction — I argue that tether is shorter than one might imagine in the age of condensed occupation of the same private space and the overlong compression of time between people.
On the internet, everyone is in your zip code and your neighborhood is everything you can’t see — and protecting your most valuable creation requires a longer, more tenacious, worldview than the lackadaisical short-term anonymity offered by creating a username out of your child’s birth name.