Google Results Can Be Surprising

Lily has discovered google on her non iPhone-iPhone (she can't make calls on it). And wikipedia. Rosie ratted her sister out this weekend, telling her grandma and me how Lily knew that Taylor Lautner voiced one of the characters in Danny Phantom, leaving us both surprised that the girls even knew who Taylor Lautner is. We don't have satellite or cable tv and haven't in nearly two years. It's amazing what our kids can pick up at school and on the internet and netflix.

This morning, Lily marched into the living room, pushed her iPhone into my view and asked how a picture of her and Rosie had appeared when she did an image search for Danny Phantom logo. Hahahaha, along with the words  "that the entire premise of Danny Phantom as "half ghost" is beyond absurd."


I couldn't duplicate the search and pull that image up--there are 377,000 images for that search, but when I googled "Danny Phantom absurd," their picture was the number one hit!

On the one hand, it was funny to watch the girls' reaction, and on the other hand, it was a sober reminder that once you put an image out there, you have no control over where it will show up. You might think that your blog is obscure enough that there's no harm in sharing, but something like this shows you that your children's pictures may show up in the strangest of places.

I'd been reluctant when I started blogging to show contemporary pictures and settled for showing pictures of the girls from behind, but the kids have appeared on the news or in the newspaper, or on websites or public facebook pages, so their anonymity was gone, and I decided that given that, it was no less safe to show them on the blog.

I think that even though the girls see the blog, okay the pictures first, that they were surprised to realize that meant they could pop up on google searches. And Lily was miffed to think that people would see their picture on a search of Danny Phantom and think they were being critical of the show. 

It raises questions, though, about their privacy that I know all parent bloggers ultimately have to consider, and it reinforces the need to discuss with them the posts before they (both the posts and the kids) go out there into the world. Does this change how and what I'll do? I don't know--the cat's out of the bag, and I wouldn't write anything that would embarrass them--or that they aren't comfortable with. 

I think that there's an important message to be sent by sharing autistic individuals' stories in an honest but positive light, to show what it's like in a family with three kids on the spectrum and BAPpy family members. I think the more stories shared, the more we'll be able to combat those unrealistic and damaging portrayals that often occurs in news stories. I think that's important--disability is often missing in discussions of culture and society. It's important to make sure that the diversity of voices is heard, that all sorts of people's stories are available, that no one has to feel his or her experience is the only one--there's a wide community out here on the internet, and no matter how rare, someone else is out there dealing with the same kind of experiences.

I know that my kids have benefited when I've shared blog posts about other kids on the spectrum with them, to know that there are lots of people who experience the world in similar ways. They feel connected and special. They feel good, and seeing pictures of those other kids makes a world of difference, makes it real to them. That is worth, I think, the chance of the girls popping up on searches for my little pony cutie marks or danny phantom searches. What'd be really cool is if you googled awesome autistic kids and they popped up. 

I think it's worth a shot to make that happen.

These are my awesome autistic kids! What about yours?


Trish said...

I think if you are logged in, it looks for your pictures and those of your online connections first. I often get pictures from other bloggers I follow at the top of my Google image searches.

It is kind of freaky though!

K Wombles said...

I hope so--but I know that Lily's not logged into my google account on her phone--but she admitted she scrolled through all the images before running across the one of them. :)

melbo said...

I have been having the same thoughts. Even though my blog is tiny the stuff is still out there.

My kids are also on Facebook. I put a lot of their stuff on there when I first joined. This is why there are baby and birth photos on my profile - it is reflective of where I was at when I signed up ... a mother at home with small children, using it as a way of keeping in contact with some online friends from a parenting board.

Believe me though, I've thought more than once about removing them. I fear though that the horse has well and truly bolted. It is up to me now to manage their online presence responsibly.

You are so right that it is a balancing act but I think you manage it very well.