When Facebook was conceived in 2004, the idea was to create an online community where people could get to know their peers a little bit better and allow us to keep in touch with people we barely knew. Over the years it evolved into a digital projection of our lives, the place where we share everything including our relationships, adventures, what we ate for dinner, our daily prayers, political rants, and how we feel about rush-hour traffic. In short, it has transformed from a place to brag about how awesome our lives were as young adults to the ultimate source for over-sharing the mundane details of our exceedingly boring grown up lives.
Through Facebook we have celebrated each other’s weddings, birth announcements, promotions and other personal achievements as they are posted on our Timelines, but now one of these trends has taken an interesting turn. Recently, some parents have decided that it is not enough to simply post pictures of their new baby for all the world to see. Instead, they have decided to create a Facebook account for their baby. That’s right – the baby has his/her own account.
We’ve seen this with pets before. I am even guilty of signing my two dogs up on Dogbook, a Facebook app that gives your dogs their own profile and allows them to connect with other dogs through their owners or even by joining a breed group. I was surprised to find that there were five other chiweenies (that’s a chihuahua/weenie dog hybrid) other than my own, but what did they really have to say? It was funny for about five minutes and then I was done with it.
But Facebook for babies? Really? Don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen the Tumblr and Twitter accounts for babies and pets and some of them are pretty funny. One of my favorites is @HollyBasset, a basset hound with a pretty snarky sense of humor and a higher Klout score than me, which I find kinda depressing. But even Holly Basset doesn’t have a Facebook account.
According to an article on The Next Web, a recent study by AVG, the Internet security firm, 5 percent of babies under the age of two have their own Facebook account, 7 percent have an email address and 23 percent of fetuses had a sonogram picture posted online. And according to CNN, 92 percent of babies in the U.S. have an online presence through a variety of sites.
When I was pregnant last year, I gave this a lot of thought and I could see why someone might do this. On one hand, it could be considered quite practical for someone who doesn’t want to pollute the news feed with daily pictures and risk annoying everyone they know who doesn’t care about their baby. There are even apps like Unbaby.me that can remove the unwanted baby pictures from your news feed. (If one of your friends is so annoyed with pictures of your child that they feel the need to replace it with pictures of bacon and kittens, then perhaps you should reconsider why they are your friend.)
On the other hand, it has potential to be even more annoying and encourage over-sharing of things that could be potentially mortifying to the child as they grow up. At what age do you stop posting? When they are 3, 7, 15? And what do you do with it at that point? Do you sign it over to your kid and let them manage it or do you delete the account and the years of recorded history you built along the way?
Even more importantly, could any of those pictures be damaging later on to the child? I was one who proudly showcased my sonogram pictures and nursery decorations, but I had my limits. One of my hard limits was that I refused to post sonogram pictures that proved I was having a boy. Even though he was in utero and the pictures looked more like a doppler weather radar from the 1970s, I had a big issue with posting pictures that potentially showed my baby boy’s junk before he was even in this world. I know some people who have gone so far as to post adorable naked baby pictures and disgusting dirty diaper pictures, but how will that affect them down the road.
We have already learned our lessons the hard way that what we put on Facebook can come back to bite us in the butt and can even adversely affect our careers. So why would we risk doing this to our children before they even have a say in the matter? Maybe I’m over-thinking the issue but I’m not the only one.
Tell me what you think: Do you think that creating a Facebook account for a baby is okay or not?
Facebook for Babies: A Generation Growing Up Online
NYTimes: Making Facebook Less Infantile