Stop Making Instagram Accounts for Babies
To celebrate the birth of her second child, actress and entrepreneur Daniella Monet shared a picture on Instagram with her 4.3 million followers— and tagged her newborn in the post.
The comments section immediately flooded with concern over the newborn’s Instagram account, not because anyone found the idea of setting up a social media presence for a baby completely absurd, but because Monet initially tagged the wrong person in her post.
This trend of normalizing the creation of Instagram accounts for babies isn’t just something in the world of celebrities. It’s an emerging practice that I’ve noticed in my social circles, and according to researchers, 80% of children have an online presence by the time they’re two.
The “Insta-Baby” accounts my friends make are usually created for three reasons: to document pregnancy, to serve as a virtual baby-book, or to commercialize parenthood. The expecting parents start an Instagram account using the name they’ve picked out for their unborn child and post from the baby’s perspective throughout the pregnancy. Once the baby joins us earth-side, the parents share slideshow post after slideshow post on Instagram of adorable but intimate moments from the child’s life as it grows up. The account keeps everyone who wants to know in the know— dangerously well.
Despite these seemingly valid explanations behind the accounts, making Instagram profiles for babies needs to stop. Social media handles aren’t birth certificates, even though people like to use them to show proof that their kid exists.
How and if someone wants to share photos of their kid online is entirely their prerogative. But, there is a big difference between sharing photos of your baby on your social media account versus sharing photos on an account you make specifically for your baby using their name.
Not only is representing a baby on a social media account they don’t need incredibly creepy, but it’s invading someone’s public identity when they’re not even of age to use the platform it’s being built on.
Yes, a legal parent or guardian can share non-explicit pictures of their kid on the internet if they want to. And yes, according to Instagram’s policy, parents and “managers” are allowed to make accounts for children:
“Instagram requires everyone to be at least 13 years old before they can create an account (in some jurisdictions, this age limit may be higher. Accounts that represent someone under the age of 13 must clearly state in the account’s bio that the account is managed by a parent or manager.”
However, people forget that just because they can post whatever they want to, it doesn’t mean they should. While social media culture is ephemeral, the internet is forever. What a person shares in association with a name creates a trail for people to follow every time that name is searched for online.
Think for a second about the implications of setting up a social media account under the name of someone who isn’t even old enough to use it. When making an account for a baby and tagging them in photos, it’s creating a digital footprint for someone before they can stand up and take steps in real life.
All the ultrasounds, bath time pics, potty training memories, and whatever other photo op a parent decides is worthy of sharing on the internet will stay attached to that baby’s digital identity—even when they’re not a baby anymore.
While that might seem cute to the family (or like gold to family bloggers), not just family members will look up a person online. A future friend, classmate, or employer will all come across the same search engine results. Social media accounts for children are extremely invasive to their future identities. Every post, every picture, and every comment made online connected with the kid’s name is going to have a long-term impact on their life as they get older.
For those who use Instagram as a digital scrapbook to share private updates with friends and family, I raise you this parting thought: As you got older, did you want your parental figures to give your baby photos to other people?
I certainly didn’t. What kid has ever asked their parent to share their baby pictures without it being a requirement for some asinine school family tree project?
Creating a baby Instagram account, even a private one, publicizes intimate moments from someone else’s life and gives any follower access to do whatever they want with it at any time.