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Culture

Blogging your baby

As online parenting journals gain in popularity, some wonder where to draw the "too much information" line.

Last year, Sylvia Barsotti's 11-year-old son failed a math quiz and never told her.

This may not be that interesting to anyone outside her family, yet anyone with an Internet connection can find out about it.

Editors' note: This story was inadvertently posted twice. Click here to see the full version of the story. Our apologies for the inconvenience.

Klein has already published her exploits in a book, "Straight Up and Dirty" (and is developing a pilot for NBC based on the book), so her children--and their friends--will one day be able to read about their mother's dating life just by going to the library. But is she concerned that they may not want to see their own lives portrayed for public view?

"They'll probably go through a phase where they're absolutely mortified. It's similar to when you invite a new boyfriend over, and your mom shoves your baby book in his hand, and there are naked pictures," Klein said. "There will absolutely be a phase, but I think they'll grow out of it. If not, they can at least say, 'My mom was being honest--that was who she was.'"

But that attitude can create problems between parents and children, said Gregory Hall, associate professor of psychology at Bentley College in Waltham, Mass.

"Unless you've got pictures up there of little Johnny or Suzy sitting on a potty, I don't think it's that much of an issue. But I've seen mommy blogs and family blogs where people are blogging about their young teen's first dating experience, their solo violin performance at 8 years old," Hall said. "Once you begin to get into those ages where kids understand some of the issues of privacy and peer embarrassment, you've got a different type of issue than with a 1-year-old, and you have to have a conversation with kids."

It could also lead to more serious security issues, experts say. Just as parents and educators often caution teens about posting too much personal information on their MySpace.com pages or LiveJournal blogs, parents should be cautious about posting too much information on their own site.

While some may think that those fears are overblown, Hall points to the NBC television show Dateline, which has aired multiple episodes about sexual predators caught trolling for children online.

"The point is, those people are out there, and they're trolling the Net. The flip side is, the blogs and mediated environments are wonderful ways of staying in touch with friends and distant relatives, and allowing them to share in the milestones of a child's life," he said. "I wouldn't suggest not establishing a blog; I would suggest establishing a blog with safeguards."

For instance, he recommends using pseudonyms and fake community names, and he discourages posting photographs.

The personal nature of blogging appeals to Barsotti. But sometimes the connection with readers can go too far, she said.

"Years ago, my daughter received a marriage proposal from someone living in a foreign country who happened to see a picture of me and my kids that accompanied an editor's letter I wrote," she said in an e-mail interview. "We joked about it at the time (this was before e-mail and Internet days), but today, I would have a totally different take, and I would not be laughing."