Is your unborn baby registered for Facebook and Google+ yet?

We shouldn't we be planning our children's online profile from the moment of conception

Share
Related Topics

There are many, many things to think about when you’re having a baby – what to call him or her, to breastfeed or not to breastfeed,  Bugaboo versus UPPAbaby. It is a long, exciting and bewildering list. And now it has become that bit more bewildering. According to Randi Zuckerberg, prospective parents must also pay heed to the “digital footprint” they are laying down for their children. Never mind moving within spitting distance of the best school in the area, have you registered baby Joshua’s domain name and got him on Google+ yet?

Zuckerberg, the chief executive of  Zuckerberg Media and former director of market development for Facebook, the social  network founded by her younger brother Mark, was moved to make these observations by the birth of her son two years ago. Little Asher Zuckerberg apparently learned to say “phone” before he learned to say his own name. And when his mother showed him a framed photograph recently, he started swiping at it with his index finger, as if it were an iPad. Clearly, the apple does not fall far from the tree.

It set Zuckerberg thinking – aloud and in public, naturally. These days she is something of a social media sceptic. The conversion may be connected to the fact that she has a couple of books and a website – called, in the manner of a lame Silicon Valley romcom, Dot Complicated – to promote. Might we be a bit too plugged-in? Have we forgotten how not to overshare? Whatever happened to privacy? Coming from the person who helped to bring Facebook to 1.11 billion, these questions are on a par with Simon Cowell wondering if there isn’t a bit too much manufactured pop in the charts or Ronald McDonald querying the ingredients of a Big Mac. It’s dot-complicated, I guess.

The most striking observation to emerge from Zuckerberg’s fretting is not all the stuff about us being tethered to our mobile devices like a baby to a placenta. She told Woman’s Hour this week that 30 per cent of women questioned would give up sex for a year before parting company with their phone for a weekend; 50 per cent would rather spend a night in prison than deactivate their social media accounts. All of this we already know, deep down. This is 2013: “selfie” is the word of the year.

No, the thing that really sent a shiver down my spine when I heard it on the radio was this: “For the rest of your children’s lives, the first thing anyone is going to do when they meet your child is search for them on the internet,” said Zuckerberg. “It’s just the way that things are.” And thanks to Facebook and the like, that search could bring up every detail of their lives from the minute they were born.

Even before, sonograms of them floating in the womb will likely have been posted by their proud parents-to-be. The average time between a baby being born and being shared on social media is 57.9 minutes. And so it goes on. The digital record is there and unlike the faded photos in your parents’ attic, anyone with an internet connection can access them at any time should they really want to.

It is for that reason, says Zuckerberg, that parents should be savvy and start curating their offspring’s digital identity at the first possible opportunity, until they are old enough to do it for themselves. How? Make sure if you put a potty training picture up, it’s taken from a flattering angle. Invest in some “prime online real estate” for your kids – domain name, email address, Twitter handle and so on. Oh, and don’t even think about naming your child until you have googled your choice to check that it doesn’t bring up any unsavoury hits. “We can’t often buy a house for our children but you can buy them a domain name and an email address,” reasons Zuckerberg. They take up less room than teddy bears, too.

Even Zuckerberg acknowledges that this sounds ridiculous. It is also potentially damaging to developing minds. It is not yet clear what effect growing up in a social media age will have on the next generation but yesterday the headteacher of Uppingham School spoke out about growing instances of mental illnesses among pupils. He partly ascribed the increase in eating and exercise disorders and self-harm to a life lived online and in pursuit of the perfect selfie.

Zuckerberg is right that we should pay heed to the online lives of children. But rather than buying them online real estate or ensuring their timeline paints them in a good light from conception on, parents would do better to remind them that it is the world that exists off the computer screen, that counts.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

year 4/5/6

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you looking for a full...

MFL TEACHER, SUPPLY VACANCY, LOVELY SITTINGBOURNE SCHOOL

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: The Job We are currently recruit...

NQT Teachers

Negotiable: Randstad Education Crawley: Randstad Education can provide you wit...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

iOS 8 is full of shiny new features - but it's terrible news for app developers

Ed Rex
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week