Dilemmas for Blogging Parents (of which I am one)
*disclaimer* I have benefited tremendously from reading parenting blogs, whether it be a recipe, activity or day out idea…maybe even a giggle at wit or ‘real life’ scenarios… but there are potential dilemmas that have become apparent to me which I’ll address in my latest blog. I do not claim to have answers, nor judge anyone’s approach to blogging, it’s simply following from my own reflection, there are some avenues I’d like to explore, and if you can help – even better ?
So last week I purposefully didn’t blog (despite having plenty of content) and this is because after reading endless ‘How To’ guides on successful blogging, I wanted to go against the grain. I was enjoying time with my family and wee man, and whilst there were things to share… I didn’t want to. That was our time, our memories, wee man’s activities. This made me increasingly conscious of other shares I am guilty of… yet nowhere near as much as well-established ‘childhood’ or ‘parenting’ blogs.
Successful blogging is often stipulated by blogging regularly and having a good social media presence at pertinent times of day, or using trending hashtags or topics in widening your readership, but is this all we crave? Being noticed, getting ‘likes’ and so forth? Because as far as I can see, that’s not the aim of my blog, and I don’t think it was initially during the fledgling stages of many other blogs. McDaniel et al (2011) research indeed found that from participants whom were blogging mothers the motivators included; connection and social support. Pettigrew et al (2015) similarly identified motivators as; extending, connecting and contributing to a community, but likewise, there was an element of self-validation by monitoring views and comments. Whilst findings from both McDaniel et al (2011) and Pettigrew et al (2015) highlight benefits for bloggers including; increased satisfaction in wellbeing, relations and marital status, there is no note of the benefits for the children. This is where I am beginning to feel a touch uneasy with the parenting blog phenomenon.
The warnings from NSPCC regarding ‘sharenting’ via social media have hit headlines and made us think twice about children’s digital footprint caused by parents, and the implications this can have on safeguarding. We still know too little about the implications when children grow older about shares on blogs (or any social media), do they truthfully fully consent? Do they/will they want this content available? Will there come a point whereby children feel ‘used’ for blog content? I do not have the answers, nor have I found any research thus far that thoroughly explores this, any signposts to such reads I’d welcome and value (thanks in advance).
Furthermore, the increase in blogs I have noticed (and sometimes have enjoyed I hasten to add) can have an undertone of being written solely to become an ‘influencer’ rather than writing with passion or expertise, and there’s something that bothers me here. I’d argue we are making an ethical trade off, as children are being used as an ‘output’ or ‘money maker’ or ‘method to influence,’ and when reflecting on the ethical processes to research in academia, the appropriacy of blogging can appear very lax. Nevertheless, a company hoping for reviews and exposure can send a product, the child ‘encouraged’ to play/try it (or have this done to/at them? Who knows?) with little ethical discussion about the child’s voice… for example; did the child want the bath in a particular brand lotion at a certain time, or, was it for the purpose of blog content? YouTube is predominantly rife with child/parent vlogs which I occasionally find questionable, and ‘staged.’
I particularly enjoyed this honest article https://www.dailydot.com/irl/mom-blogging-child-labor/ exploring the possibility that making money, or receiving ‘freebies’ and so forth can be likened to child labour or even exploitation. Again, I’d welcome research articles into using children and parenting blogs as an outlet for reviews and so forth. What is the impact on our children? I could be guilty, I invite collaboration (although I’ve not collaborated for the purposes of adverts/reviews personally) I do enjoy seeing toy/game prototypes and offering expertise on such like, yet, this does not gain ‘exposure’, nor is my family involved, so potentially a touch different… the point I’m making is I’m not ‘holier than though,’ we blog about what we want, when we want, and it’s a balance and decision for every parent to make for themselves.
That been said, I want to see more research into parenting blogs, particularly impact on children and the child’s voice when their very existence has been benefited from for blog content, product reviews, service/product exposure etc. So… potentially ironically, let’s collaborate! Anyone also interested in this I’d welcome a chat with, anyone with interesting research signposts I’d love you to share… but wee man won’t be involved ?
Happy blogging ?
McDaniel, B. et al (2011) New Mothers and Media Use: Associations Between Blogging, Social Networking, and Maternal Well-Being, Matern Child Health, (16), p. 1509–1517
Pettigrew, S. et al (2015) A Thematic Analysis of Mothers’ Motivations for Blogging, Matern Child Health, (20), p. 1025–1031