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How Babies Interact Online

baby

Brooke Holt's family set up their first computer when she was in middle school in the early 1990s. She registered her own Yahoo e-mail address while in high school, and later, she began blogging about her daily life. By the time her daughter, Beau, was born in 2009, it felt only natural that the baby should have her own blog too, and now Holt updates the Little Wakka blog for Beau a few times a week.

For many moms, it's no longer enough to post their baby's pics on their Facebook page. Before their kids have learned to type their name, parents are now scooping up online real estate for them in every way; babies have Twitter feeds, blogs, and their own domain names. More than 150,000 specific domain names were registered around the top ten boys and girls' names for 2010, as parents scrambled to secure their kids' place in the virtual world as soon as they entered the real one.

Loren Splawn bought his son's URL the day he was born and eventually turned the site into a blog. "At first, I just wanted to make sure that no one else could register it -- someone with the same name or someone trying sell it for a profit," he says.

People now view a domain name as an essential piece of online identity, says Warren Adelman, president and chief operating officer of the domain-registration and Web-hosting provider GoDaddy.com. They often sync it up with their Twitter handle, Facebook URL, and other social-media sites. "Parents know the Internet is increasingly important," says Adelman, "and they want to get that domain name so their baby has it for the rest of his life."

Social-media consultant Jason Falls's 6-year-old is learning what a blog is, while his 3-year-old stars in a series of videos posted as messages on Facebook. "We're raising these kids in a sharing society," he explains. The trend doesn't seem to be slowing anytime soon -- and that means we'll be seeing an online baby boom for years to come.

Baby Bloggers: Read on to meet a few tiny tots who are making a big splash in the blogosphere...

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Cole Ludwig

colesfirstblog.com

Cole Ludwig began blogging at 4 months (with a little help from his mom, Sarah) to keep his extended family up-to-date on his daily adventures. At 26 months, he now holds sweepstakes and contests for his many admirers, writes recurring columns, and tweets to 600 followers.

Follow him if You enjoy witty jokes from suburban babies.
Best Tweet @ColeEmett: Mommy keeps saying she's not a jungle gym. I disagree.

SAMPLE BLOG POST

It's Good to Be Cute
Mommy read an article about how physically attractive people have an easier time gaining employment and, once employed, typically earn higher wages than their less attractive counterparts. I don't know about all that, but being cute? It has certain advantages.

A smile for the lady at the bakery? Earns me a free cookie. Peek at the policeman in the deli before burying my head in Mommy's shoulder? A free sticker for me! Bat my eyelashes at the man in Dunkin' Donuts? Yes, please, I love Munchkins! Wave and chat with the receptionist at the X-ray place, while Mommy fills out forms? She gave me a toy car! So my advice to the toddlers out there? Practice your flirting skills and work 'em!

ACCORDING TO MOM

"I don't put anything on the blog that I think he'd find embarrassing someday," says Sarah Ludwig. "My barometer for posting is that if I wouldn't show or say it in the supermarket in my town, I don't show or say it online."

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Ana Ayala

travellingwithana.wordpress.com

Twenty-month-old Ana moved all the way from Brisbane, Australia, to a new home in Oregon. Now, she updates her followers on all of her fun adventures in America.

Follow her if Aussie accents and Down Under-style spelling tickle your fancy.
Best Cultural Observation An entire post dedicated to "massive" U.S. items like cars, ice-cream buckets, and home appliances.

SAMPLE BLOG POST

You Know I've Been There When...
The entire contents of Mum's wallet is on the floor. The TV remote control is in the recycling bin... again. Peter Rabbit has been stuffed in the temperature-control panel. There are little handprints on the glass, just at my height. Mum's bra is missing.

ACCORDING TO MOM

"I was quite surprised how quickly after Ana's birth I wanted to do something other than diaper changes and feeding," says Sarah Ayala. "It was important for me personally to have something of my own to work on."

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Marshall Ace Drummond

tinysartorialist.wordpress.com

At 15 months, Marshall Ace Drummond is probably the youngest-ever fashion blogger.

Follow him if You're a slave to (baby) style.
Best Outfit As hip as most of his looks are, the hands-down winner of this ongoing peek inside Marshall's cool-kid closet has to be his fuzzy-bear costume.

SAMPLE BLOG POST

Balancing Act
When you are wearing trousers that make you look this skinny [see pic, right], you need some horizontal stripes to even things out. Hoodie by Baby Gap. Skeleton pants by Budd. Socks by Tippy Toes.

ACCORDING TO MOM

"My husband and I were inspired by The Sartorialist, a famous fashion blogger," says Karla Courtney. "We found the idea of a baby boy commenting on clothes quite funny."

SAFE SHARING: Read on for tips on making sure you're protecting your child's privacy online...

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No matter what form your online baby book takes, protect your child's privacy with these tips from Donna Rice Hughes, CEO and president of the online safety group Enough is Enough.

  • There are no take-backs. Anything posted online can be archived forever on the host's server, and even things posted to your private Facebook account can be leaked unwittingly by friends or family, so think twice before you post.
  • Don't share where you live. Avoid writing about places that will show where you are, and use caution with photos; park names, house numbers, and license plates can give clues to your whereabouts.
  • Know your tech. Many phones, cameras, and tablets come equipped with a GPS feature, and posting a picture from them will automatically give your location to those who know how to find it. Ask about these features -- and especially how to disable them -- whenever you buy new gizmos.

Originally published in the November 2011 issue of Parents magazine.

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