Exposing My Kids To The Internet

You can read a lot about the dangers of exposing your kids to the Internet. Everyone from the mommy blogger to the childless blogger, and even the mainstream media, has weighed in on the blogging phenomenon known as Child Exploitation. And while I won’t pretend to have anything fresh or new to say on the subject, I’d like to tell you my story.

I think most mothers will tell you that they have an overriding goal for childrearing. It’s a self imposed standard used to measure your success or failure as a parent. You can identify this goal with statements like “I just want them to be healthy”, “No matter what, I want them to be happy”, “I want my kids to know what it means to give back”. It is these “I just want them to…” mottoes that govern nearly every decision we make for our kids.

Since before my first child was born, my personal parenting mantra has been “I want them to know that they are loved. By lots and lots of people.”

I believe that everything good – from a healthy self esteem to an appreciation for others – comes from a strong foundation of love. One that is bigger and broader than I can provide alone. And selfishly, I always wanted to know that if anything ever happened to me, my kids would at least know that there were still lots of people in the world who loved them.

That was easy when I lived in Parkersburg, Iowa.

We lived within 15 minutes of grandparents, uncles and cousins. They were surrounded by friends who loved like family. On any given holiday, they were overwhelmed with a sea of arms waiting to overwhelm them with hugs and a horde of kids ready to run wild beside them. You had only to look at the house stuffed to the breaking point for birthday parties to see that I was excelling at Providing A Happy Childhood 101.

And then we moved 1400 miles away from everything. And everyone.

I was terrified. The fears I had for myself and my life paled in comparison to the guilt I wrestled with over what I had done to my children.

I had taken them from their grandparents. I had ripped them from the security of their family. Despite all my talk about family and community and the importance of people who loved us, I took my kids from the Village that was happily helping me raise them.

And then the strangest thing happened.

We received our first house warming presents, not from neighbors or family, but via UPS ground delivery. Before we had time to put paint on the walls, AmyD sent each of the kids something special for their new rooms. Glittery pink accents for Emma, and Spiderman memorabilia for Devin – because she knew each of them as little people.

A few months later, Amy sent another box to the new house. This time it was stuffed with dresses and much needed winter clothes for Emma, who was ecstatic to learn that her friend Maggie (Amy’s daughter) had sent her presents. At only 2 and 3 years old, Maggie and Emma had already been giggling and pointing at each other over a web cam connection.

Then we hit our first holiday away from home.

Experts will tell you, the first is always the hardest. But I don’t think the experts anticipate that you will have a blogging buddy reach out to you and welcome you into their home. The experts don’t know about Deanna Banana and Lee, and how they laugh easily and immediately take on your children as if they’ve loved them since birth. Apparently the experts have never seen two families, both far from Home, gathered around one table and truly, truly grateful to be in exactly that place.

The media is right – it’s absolutely unbelievable what kids can get from the people on the Internet.

A surrogate uncle who loves them so fiercely that he has to be reminded at times that I do kind of know what I’m doing here thank you. A cute little babysitter who plays board games with them for hours and always promises that “they were good, really.” A woman who squeals when they lick her and teaches them how to make a McMansion Fort. A Kawol who promises he’ll be back, despite being woken up with the sun. And an entire family that made Emma forget that she was afraid of the water, and reminded Devin that there were kids Just Like Him out there.

Some people will tell you that what we do here with these blogs is strange.

They’ll tell you we’re an antisocial bunch, sitting behind our computer screens talking to a bunch of strangers. They may say that it’s dysfunctional or dangerous to share your lives, your families, and God forbid your children with a bunch of crazy Internet people.

But me and my family?

We’ll tell you… thank you.

Thank you for helping me raise children who will never sit in a corner at a party because they’re convinced they have enough friends.

Thank you for allowing me to show them that the world is absolutely full of good people.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you, for being part of our Village.

Opt In Image
Need happiness for the real world?

You want to be happy. You want to be grateful. You want to be authentic and courageous. But you also have stuff to do.

Take the Happiness Challenge, a 31-day email guide that helps busy people like you make room for happiness.

  1. avitable says:

    I’m only nice to your kids so that I can try to get into your pants. Or Jared’s.

  2. Karl says:

    I will be back. And I might steal Mini-Britt, too. But I’d have to give her some Brittinis so she’d let me sleep until, oh, 6:35.

  3. Willie G says:

    My experience has been that if you keep your guard up against those that would do harm, the internet can be a great way to find new friends who want to know you and your family, because they have invested the time to find like-minded people who share their goals and values.

    I do think a healthy dose of caution is never a bad idea though.

  4. AmyD says:

    Wow… I totally had a cool comment and then I saw the trailer for Hancock… now I really want to see that movie. Damn that Will Smith… damn him.

    ok, I reread your post. Wow, that was sweet. Too bad that because of everything you’ve done on the internet that “anyone” can find you and it would be “easy to reach over and snatch them right out of your backyard.” Know what I mean? :evil:

    :hug:

  5. Kay says:

    Can someone point me to a real situation where a child was harmed due to a blog? I haven’t heard of it. I think the real life boogeymen are the ones in your own backyard. That is the ones to watch for.

  6. Tori says:

    My biggest regret of moving is not being near San Francisco, because I’m no longer near a “big city” and could possibly meet more of my online friends.

    On the other hand, one of the easiest decisions I’ve had to make in the past 10 years was moving, knowing my online friends would all still be there.

    I’d really like to do a meet and greet eventually… but just knowing I can get online and usually am only a few seconds away from finding a friend makes it all ok!

  7. Dan says:

    My best internet buddies tend to live in the states, while I’m over here in England. However we have travelled across the pond to see one of them, and they in turn have come over here.

    That connection you maintain reading each other’s blogs can be incredibly strong, and can tie families as well as individuals together over great distances.

  8. What a great post!

    You’re so blessed to have been able to meet so many people. Here in Alabama, they are still writing on stone tablets and few even know what a blog is.

  9. this makes me the village idiot because i let BOTH of your kids lick my face and arm. (it was really quite sweet of them…i had mentioned that i missed my dogs and they were just helping me feel at home in your house.) :heartbeat:

    i think kawool should steal mini you the week i wanna steal your inventor. then you and your hubby could run around the house naked, not having the buttsex.

  10. Miss Britt says:

    avitable: I suspected that. I see how you look at him.

    Karl: no Brittinis for the baby! I did find that keeping her up wayyyyy too late can lead to sleeping in in the morning. Who knew?

    Willie G: I definitely agree with a HEALTHY dose of caution. And common sense.

    AmyD: :whosnext: :whosnext: know what I mean? :wink:

    Kay: I haven’t heard of it – but I don’t suppose that means it’s not there.

    Tori: I get what you mean. 100%

    Dan: yeah, you start to feel like you “know” the blogger’s family as much as the blogger sometimes.

    Queen of Shake Shake: thank you! Most of those people don’t live in the same state as me, just so you know. There’s hope even in Alabama. :wink:

    hello haha narf: you’re the village ULTIMATE FUN MACHINE!!!

  11. SciFi Dad says:

    Great post. It paints a clear picture of what the community of blogging is really about.

  12. Awhile back, my family became homeless, through no fault of our own. The lousy economy, coupled with a bad event made for a perfect storm that found us and the kids with out a home. My family (Mom&Dad) refused to help us, and hubby’s family could only help a tiny bit before another event threw us out from our temporary place. Needless to say, it was my blogily that kept me sane. And when we finally got some real help and a a home of our own, my kids recieved a gift of clothes from one of my angel blogging buddies. I was just floored that people I have never met in person would care more about mine and my kids well being, than my own flesh and blood!!! The bloggosphere rules yo!

  13. Britt's Mom says:

    Guys I think we’re running into old stereotypes of what perhaps the Internet USED to be.

    I honestly don’t see how meeting people online is so much different from meeting people, say, in the laundromat, at work, or whatever. People can hide who they “really are” face to face too. Just ask John Wayne Gacy’s neighbors.

    Good for you, honey. And good for you for finding a group of like minded people.

  14. Trishk says:

    I agree with your mom. There are bad people on the Internet, there are bad people teaching children in your schools, there are bad people coaching children’s sports.

    Now, when I meet the kiddos I will introduce them to the wonders of wine!

  15. Kate says:

    Ooh, John Wayne Gacy – now there’s a creepy neighbor.

    Loved your blog entry! Awesome that you have such cool friends! :clap:

    Kate

  16. Good post. It’s cool to learn how the blogosphere is full of caring people.

    Also, I agree with your mom’s comment about meeting people in public is just as dangerous.

  17. *pixie* says:

    There are good and bad people in the 3-D world. Why should the PRB be any different? The problem is that people who have never blogged just don’t get it.

    They probably never will.

  18. The Internets surely are a B A D thing. How could you even possibly think that there are REAL people on the other side of your monitor?

    Crazy woman!

    :peace: :martini: :heartbeat:

  19. Finn says:

    I promise that when I snatch your kids I will continue to raise them a)on the Internet and b)in a world where they are loved by many. :kiss:

    Lately I’m finding I like the people I meet in cyberspace more than the ones I meet in RL.

  20. Mindy says:

    I’d like to think that there are no evils on the internets but then I would be naive. But… the friends made on the internets more than make up for the little bit of bad.

  21. Andria says:

    You tell ‘em.

    I’ve found that in real life (IRL), mommies are snooty and constantly compare their kids to mine. “Blake just cut his 2nd tooth? Oh, well little Evan Forrester Davis McGlutton cut 5 teeth by 6 months” and so on, and so on.

    By blogging, I’ve found that people LOVE my kids, and are proud of them.

    And, it goes waaay beyond just that. When I had three miscarriages, lost the twin alongside Blake, people ignored me IRL. I was drowning in a sea of sorrow, and needed someone to say something beyond “It’s a good thing you lost the baby- something was probably wrong with it. That was Mother Nature doing her thing”. Fuck Mother Nature, I wanted those babies. The internet enveloped me in a cloak of compassion. Honestly? It was my blogger friends, and them along, who brought me out of my depression, and comforted me during my pregnancy.

  22. Just Bob says:

    Sounds like you and your kids have a great group of friends and family. Congrats.

    ~Just Bob~

  23. Poppy says:

    You’re antisocial?

  24. Lisa says:

    I hope that we get to come back down and go to the beach again…sooner than later.

    I’ve found some of the best people on the planet from blogging and consider myself an incredibly lucky and blessed woman.

  25. Isn’t that one of the main reasons to blog, to meet people? If you’re here just to vent buy a journal. And yes, those who don’t blog or read blogs don’t get it.

    If I can make a fraction of the amount of friends that you have, I would be happy.

    Have a great day!

    Toodles~

  26. Sybil Law says:

    So, so true…
    Home is where the heart is, and friends can be found everywhere – all that (true) crap!
    Your kids are freaking adorable, by the way! :cheese:

  27. I’ve met some really awesome people via the blogosphere and I always tread carefully initially — which is the same thing I do when I meet people in person.

    So I’m giving you an AMEN, SISTA!

  28. Miss Britt says:

    SciFi Dad: thank you.

    Blondefabulous: that is awesome. I’m glad there were people who were there for you guys.

    Britt’s Mom: I’m a lucky girl.

    Trishk: oh realllly? What are you doing Monday? :evil:

    Kate: I think “creepy” is probably the understatement of the year. LOL

    student teacher: yep, it really is. Chalk full. Or is it chock full? Chuck?

    Whatever. Full of.

    *pixie*: yeahhh…. my husband still thinks I’m a freak. LOL

    themuttprincess: :nana:

    Finn: whew, I am so relived now!

    Mindy: well yeah, if you think there are NO evils you’re probably a bit naive. Although I tend to hate that word.

    Andria: I don’t know that I would say people I’ve met online are any BETTER than the ones I know offline. It’s just a bigger pool to draw from.

    Just Bob: yep, we do.

    Poppy: didn’t you know??

    Lisa: our house is always open to you and yours sweetie. :heartbeat:

    The Random Memorandum: actually, I started mine to write publicly. The people thing was an unexpected bonus.

  29. Miss Britt says:

    Sybil: yeah, knowing that makes me feel less nervous about moving around the globe.

    Undomestic Diva: cautious? what’s that?? :dunce:

  30. Poppy says:

    I was not aware that anti-social people shared their flaming beverages with me.

  31. *pixie* says:

    That’s why I’m glad my husband blogs—he finally gets it.

  32. Jay says:

    I had no idea that when I started blogging I would meet so many amazing people. Now I just want to pack up and drive all over the country and meet every single one of them. And then head overseas and meet even more cool people.

  33. melanie says:

    Great post Britt! My SIL once asked me why I put my life out there…how do you even begin to explain?

  34. Robina says:

    How very sweet AND very cool! I’ve never met an internet friend. I’m just waiting for the day.

  35. Turnbaby says:

    Great post—and yeah –I definitely feel this way.

    And @Hello–Britt encourages the licking of you–just sayin’;-)

  36. DeannaBanana says:

    Aww, I wish I had three minutes down time so we could even talk otp! Three weeks off after July 31, lets catch up then. And by catch up I mean Brittini’s abound. :martini:

  37. Sarah says:

    Some of my best friends I’ve met through blogging. In fact those are pretty much the only friends who have actually been there for me when I really needed someone.
    But I’d love to really meet them face to face. Maybe when I make a bit more than to just barely cover the cost of classes and books.

  38. Winter says:

    This is why I encouraged Motley to have a blog. We were pretty alone when I started blogging. We don’t feel quite so alone anymore. In time, maybe we will have blog friends like yours. This is just an awesome post.

  39. Brenda Starr says:

    Blogging can be a strange world…but a very warm one.

  40. Fantastagirl says:

    Isn’t it awesome when kids have the attitude of “Hey, wanna be my friend, lets go play ball.” – and they don’t care who they are. I wish adults could keep that…wouldn’t the world be a better place.

  41. Awww, that was such a touching post and so very true about the blogging community. I wish I lived near you so I could spoil your kids rotten too.

    And I totally agree with you…it’s all about the love. That foundation makes everything else fall into place.

  42. Miss Britt says:

    Poppy: damn, you got me there! :wink:

    *pixie*: I cannot imagine my husband with a blog.

    Jay: yeah, I could make a year of it at least.

    melanie: thank you – and, I don’t know if you can.

    Robina: really? never? no one lives near you?

    Turnbaby: I *do*!

    DeannaBanana: August? I’m allll yours. I know you’re busy. Or more than busy. LOL

    Sarah: yeah, and it helps that I live near a major airport now too.

    Winter: that is so awesome when you put it like that.

    Brenda Starr: yes, on both accounts.

    Fantastagirl: hell, I wish KIDS kept that for a little longer.

    BlondeBlogger: at least that’s what we hope, right?

  43. I can’t believe how large and intense your blogging community is! I’m invested in the people I read because of their written words, but I have yet to take that extra step of webcams and radio shows and meet-ups. It’s all so foreign to me — but I think it’s so neat that you’ve built an extended family like this. Lotta love there, obviously. :)

  44. I’m so glad you wrote this, hon. It drives me nuts that my family screams about my blog and whenever I post pictures or stories about the kids. Grrrrr. I have made so many wonderful friends in the almost-year since blogging and I’m glad that you and I and other bloggers like us have proved them wrong.

    Hey, you still planning on coming up for a visit? ‘Cause when you do, we’ll be in the middle of potty training. Woo hoo! :)

« « Tequila Tales Are Never Told | A Public Service Announcement Brought To You By Mexico and The Oompa Loompas. » »