A few days ago we had an interesting conversation on Facebook discussing what you should do (digitally-wise) once your baby is born. It started from this meme:
… and developed into us sharing what we (might) do to make our kid’s future career easier. The Internet has changed our personal careers paths dramatically: Most employees look for prospective interviewees’ web records even before setting up the actual meeting.
So can we help our kids with their personal reputation management?
One of the most obvious things to do once your spouse and you agree on the baby’s name is to register the exact-match domain (if possible) for your kid not to have to worry about it when he/she grows up.
But really how crazy should you go about securing your kid’s digital future?
Well, personal reputation management is huge nowadays, and conversely so is identity hijacking. If we can in any way help our children to own their online identities, why not?
After all, you have two obvious choices:
- Make sure your kid has a very wide-spread common first and last name (In this case, you don’t have to worry about your kid’s online reputation: There are hundreds of people sharing the same search results page) OR
- Make sure your kid’s name is more or less unique and when he / she grows up, they will be easy to get found in whatever search engine we are going to use then.
In the latter case, securing important domains and usernames may be a good idea actually.
Helping your kids control their web identities may be crucial for their future. Dan Gillmor has put it very well:
[We] are partly who others say we are. That’s a key reason why each of us needs to be one of the voices (preferably the most prominent) defining us. To the extent that they live public lives in any way – and like it or not, it’s getting harder not to be public in some way – tomorrow’s adults will need an online home that they control. They need an online home, a place where they tell the world who they are and what they’ve done, where they post their own work, or at least some of it.
What to Register
A domain is an investment and when you deal with kids, this investment is for at least 10-15 years to come.
Domains are not expensive nowadays but seriously, there’s no way you can register ALL of the variations. There are lots of them! And the list is going to be growing.
So which one to secure?
I suggest going with .com
I have no idea what the Internet is going to be in 15 years but I think .com domains will remain as common and popular as they are now or were 5 years ago.
If there is any other top level domains that fit particularly well, why not consider them as well. I’d register ann.smarty once .smarty becomes a top level domain, for example.
What to Do with That Domain
Keeping it registered is already very thoughtful of you but we know that sites are more valuable than domains.
There’s no reason to keep your kid’s domain stagnant. Installing WordPress and keeping it hosted is easy and cheap. Here’s one of the easiest guides on starting a simple blog: Your kid’s blog is just a couple of steps away.
Updating a blog is easy, you can even do it via email: So you can simply use it to collect photos and memories (Like that email address idea we started from. The difference is that hosting everything on your own sites means you actually own the collection).
What Else to Secure?
Owning your domain name is only one step. Today’s digital identity is spread across multiple social media platforms – owning all of those is also essential to better control your child’s identity.
Do we know which ones are there to stay in 10 or more years?
Will there be Twitter? – Hopefully yes!
Will there be Facebook? – It seems so…
Will there be Google Plus? – I wouldn’t count on that…
Will there be new ones? – Absolutely yes…
How to keep track of emerging social media platforms to register your kid’s name there?
Knowem has a cool service that lets you register your name on all imaginable social media platforms to secure them for your child. They also offer a subscription service that will continue to secure your name on 20 new and emerging social networks every month, so you never miss out on any new ones:
Have you ever thought about securing your children’s digital future? Please share your thoughts in the comments!