Millennials are using social media to name their kids
Young parents have a handle on naming their kids.
“I have two kids — daughters — and social media played a role in both of their names,” Sara Mauskopf, a 33-year-old San Francisco mom and the founder of parenting app Winnie tells Marketwatch.
While Mauskopf knew she wanted her now 3-year-old daughter’s first name to be Bryn, her requirements for a middle name were that it started with “A” and that the Twitter handle was available. “I was really gung-ho about getting the Twitter handle, so in choosing a middle name I was checking Twitter,” she explains, eventually axing Ava, Anne and others because those Twitter user names were taken.
And when she had her second child earlier this year, she once again turned to a social media forum on her app Winnie — this time to get feedback on a name she loved, Isla. But users told her that it was “impossible for people to see the name spelled and pronounce it correctly … they were very convincing,” she says. So her youngest daughter is now named Aubrey.
She’s not alone in considering social media when naming her child, says Ari Lightman, a professor of digital media and marketing at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College in Pittsburgh. “Millennials really understand the importance of creating a digital identity,” he says.
And relationship expert April Masini says that the internet is the “new stomping ground” for naming your kids as “parents in the know are wanting their kids’ names to be relevant, and they are wanting to reserve Twitter and Insta handles, as well as buy up domain names.” Indeed, about half of millennial parents say that it’s crucial that their children have an online presence early on, versus just one in four Gen Xers, according to a survey released this year by domain provider GoDaddy.com.
Even those slightly older than millennials are using social media to figure out baby names. Stephen Seidel, 41, the founder of consultancy firm The Seidel Agency, is one of them. He used Facebook to narrow down names for his 4-year-old daughter (he and his wife liked Samantha, but when a Facebook friend named her daughter that, they axed the name), and got her a YouTube channel, domain name and Gmail address shortly after she was born.
The goal, he says, was to “give her the opportunity to create her own business” in the future, and to allow her to easily replay memories and experiences (they “periodically email her and let her know about all the wonderful things she does and the milestones she’s accomplished,” he says, so she can read them in the future.).
And experts say consulting social media when naming your child — be it asking others about a name on Facebook, or using social media handles to inform a name — can be smart. “With the goal of not having your child get lost in the social shuffle and losing opportunities, it may be best to take a proactive social branding strategy or ‘self-insurance’ from the very start of their life,” says Robb Hecht, an adjunct professor of marketing at Baruch College in New York City . “Just like a kid graduating with top grades or obtaining scholarships, a kid today could have a distinct advantage if her or his parents were setting them up for their future virtual self.” And Masini notes that it’s smart and “especially important for people wanting to create a special identity for themselves and their children and families.”
Others disagree: Lots of people have a social media handle that’s different from their name, so that shouldn’t be a factor in naming your child, says Kim Randall, the owner of KiMedia Strategies. Adds Kent Lewis, the president and founder of marketing firm Anvil: “A [social media] handle can be changed or modified over time, and typically isn’t as important as the content and visibility of the profile.”
But both Randall and Lewis still believe that securing social media handles and domain names very early — even before they’re born — is smart. That’s what Elizabeth Piper, 30, a social media strategist at Sparkloft Media, did. “My husband and I claimed the handle for my soon-to-be-born baby girl after we made the announcement on our social accounts, because we have a good number of people tagging a great potential handle for our baby in our posts’ comments,” she says. “I didn’t want someone to take advantage of that and snag it, so I did it first.”
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