SALT LAKE CITY — A good portion of the more than 1 billion active Facebook accounts bear the name of a person who can’t even walk yet.
A survey by Gerber.com revealed 40 percent of millennial moms — ages 18 to 34 — created a social media account for their child before his or her first birthday. An additional 7 percent opened one before their child turned 2.
Gerber spoke to about 1,000 moms with children under the age of 2.
Motivations were varied. Some parents decided to dedicate an account to their child so they could maintain their own sense of identity.
“I think everything my son does is cute and I would love to post pictures all day long of what he does, but I didn’t want him to hijack my page,” one 29-year-old mother told Today Parents. “I’m still me, I’m a mom, but I’m also a daughter, girlfriend, employee. … It’s a step I took to make sure I remained me.”
Utah mother Brittany Bartholomew said it’s about protecting her children’s privacy and having control over who can view photos of them.
“It’s a way to post pictures of just my children to family and friends who we trust and who want to see how our kids are growing and developing,” she said. “Also, it’s a way to journal and log the cute, fun things they do.”
But when it comes to the privacy issue, posting pictures of your children in any forum could lead to issues. Some parents take the direct opposite approach and impose a complete media blackout when it comes to their kids.
“If I don’t want somebody to know about my child, to take an active interest in them, to recognize them in a city street or as they are leaving the schoolyard, the easiest way to do that is to not have any identifying information out about them,” St. Louis dad Scott Steinberg told the New York Daily News.
Privacy specialists argue it doesn’t matter what account you’re posting to, once a photo of your child makes it onto the World Wide Web, it’s possible you’ll lose control of it.
And then there’s the issue of posting under your child’s name without their permission. While they may be too little to understand now, they may feel embarrassed about it when they’re old enough to see what their parents have been up to.
“I tweeted about my pregnancy, but it was always from my perspective — me sharing my own personal experiences about becoming a mother,” California mom Christine Kirk told Today. “I know I would have been horrified if at 13, I found out my mom had been tweeting as me for the past 13 years.”
Many parents advocate for letting the child decide if pictures should be shared with the world.
“No social media accounts for my kids,” said Camille Wheatley, a Salt Lake City mother of three girls. “I’ll wait for them to decide whether or not that’s their cup of tea.”
Facebook is taking a stand against these “baby” accounts. The social network closed nearly 83 million accounts in 2012 that were managed by someone other than the person — or many cases, pet — associated with the account.
“On Facebook we have a really large commitment in general to finding and disabling false accounts,” CSO Joe Sullivan told CNN at the time. “Our entire platform is based on people using their real identities.”
Facebook has a page for parents who have questions about account security. The company requires children to be at least 13 years old before they can open an account.
Now back to the source. Perhaps the driving factor behind the baby media madness lies in the habits of millennial moms themselves.
Parenting website Baby Center polled 2,000 moms born in the 1980s or later and found that three-quarters of those surveyed admitted to devoting more than eight hours a day to their iPhones, tablets and laptops.
When it comes to social media, 86 percent of moms said they used Facebook regularly, 56 percent surfed YouTube, 46 percent logged onto Pinterest, and 30 percent posted often to Instagram.
Jessica Ivins is a content manager for KSL.com and contributor to the Motherhood Matters section.