If you’re a millennial mom, there’s a pretty good chance you have a social media account for your baby. No, we’re not talking about posting a ton of baby pics on your personal Facebook or Instagram page—but on a dedicated account with your baby’s own name on it.
According to a new survey conducted by Gerber.com, close to 40 percent of moms aged 18 to 34 created social media accounts for their baby before the child’s first birthday — and another 7 percent made one before their kid’s second birthday.
Lily Silva says she has an Instagram feed for her son as a way to maintain her personal 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,” says the 29-year old marketing coordinator. “I'm still me—I’m a mom, but I'm also a daughter, girlfriend, employee. Although Mateo is the most important thing in my life, it’s a step I took to make sure I remained me.”
Silva says she made an account for her son as a way to have an opt-in baby picture option for loved ones. “You get to decide whether you see pictures of Mateo all day or not by clicking follow on his Instagram page," she says. "I try not to drown people in Mateo pictures on my own page.”
Likewise, 30-year-old stay-at-home mom Cristina Carmona says the social media account for her daughter is “the easiest way for me to share photos of her with my friends and family. From her soccer practices, to Disneyland and everyday events, she’s always on the go—and I love sharing her daily life with others.”
Of course, it’s not just millennial moms who are on board with the social media trend. Nicole Doyle, a 40-year-old mom to 3-year-old twins, created an account for her boys as a way to update loved ones on her babies’ progress. “I did it because my boys were micro-preemies, born at 25 weeks, and it was a way to keep friends and family informed on how they were doing,” she says. “Once they got out of the NICU, I [switched to using] it as an update to what the two twin tornados are doing, which is usually destruction.”
Even while many moms maintain feeds for their babies, plenty of others say they abstain—for reasons relating to privacy, modesty, boundaries, and other concerns.
Christine Kirk is a 33-year-old new mom who makes her living in social media marketing for other brands as the C.E.O. of Social Muse Communications in Los Angeles. But she says setting up an account for her own son was a definite no-go.
”I have centered my career and my life on social media, and obviously see tremendous value in it from both a personal and professional point of view,” she says. “But I knew right from the get-go that I would never create any social media profile in my child's name and update it as if I were him. My son should have the choice as a young adult about if he wants a social media presence, and what that presence will look like. I don't think it's a parent's place to make that decision on behalf of their child.”
That said, she posts tons of pictures of the little guy from her own account—and even had a dedicated hashtag for him during her pregnancy. “I tweeted about my pregnancy, but it was always from my perspective — me sharing my own personal experiences about becoming a mother. 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.”
Other moms like the idea of creating social media accounts for their babies—but just find the upkeep too unmanageable in the midst of work and parenting duties.
“It wasn't that I ultimately decided against having an account for him,” says one New York-based entertainment industry vice president and mom to an 18-month-old son. “I was posting so many photos of him on my own Facebook and Instagram that it just took too much time to keep logging in and out between our accounts. [Nevertheless,] he still has 79 followers and his last post was 65 weeks ago!”
Among other concerns, security and privacy issues worry parents, too. “The privacy implications come from posting stuff, not setting up accounts,” says privacy specialist Bruce Schneier—so if you’re posting your kids’ photos online, it doesn’t matter what account they live on. (And you shouldn’t feel a false sense of protection if you only post photos of your children to your personal account.)
Schneier says that identity theft isn’t a particular concern either. The biggest risk of setting up an account for your babies?“ Your children might be embarrassed later,” he says.
Gerber’s nationwide poll included more than 1,000 moms with kids under two. The findings are being released in association with the fifth annual Gerber Photo Search.