Prince Harry and Meghan Markle among parents starting their 'child's digital footprint.' Experts say it comes with pros, cons

·5 min read
Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex(R) and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex(L) stand on the stage at the British High Commissioner residency in Johannesburg where they  will meet with Graca Machel, widow of former South African president Nelson Mandela, in Johannesburg, on October 2, 2019. - Prince Harry recalled the hounding of his late mother Diana to denounce media treatment of his wife Meghan Markle, as the couple launched legal action against a British tabloid for invasion of privacy. (Photo by Michele Spatari / AFP) (Photo by MICHELE SPATARI/AFP via Getty Images)
A spokesperson for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle said that the new parents purchased the domain names for their daughter, Lilibet Diana, before she was born. (Photo by Michele Spatari / AFP) (Photo by MICHELE SPATARI/AFP via Getty Images)

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle welcomed their second child, Lilibet Diana, on June 4, and the baby girl already has her own online presence.

A spokesperson for the couple confirmed to The Telegraph and People that the new parents purchased the domain names for their daughter before she was born. "As is often customary with public figures, a significant number of domains of any potential names that were considered were purchased by their team to protect against the exploitation of the name once it was later chosen and publicly shared," the spokesperson said. 

Those domains include LiliDiana.com and LilibetDiana.com, according to The Telegraph. The domains aren't active yet.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex aren't the only people to do this. A 2018 study of 1,000 millennial parents by OnePoll on behalf of GoDaddy found that 48 percent of millennials believe it’s important for their child to have an online presence early in life. Of those surveyed, 38 percent said they have created or are considering creating a website for their kids.

Marissa Levy Lerer and her husband secured domain names for her twins, now 7, "as soon as we settled on their names after they were born," she tells Yahoo Life. The couple also set up Gmail accounts for their son and daughter, she says. For Lerer, it was a no-brainer. "I'm a technologist and I was a computer programmer when my kids were born — that's what I do," she says. "It was more about securing that space for them should they decide they wanted it." Lerer says she pays just $12 a year to keep the domains.

Lerer says that "there's nothing on them" right now, but she has used her son and daughter's email addresses only to communicate on their behalf — emails that get forwarded to her own email address. "It's more of an organizational thing at this point," she says. 

At some point, though, Lerer says she plans to "hand off" the domains and email accounts to her children. "I haven't thought yet about when that would be appropriate," she adds. 

Tech and cybersecurity expert Chuck Brooks, president of Brooks Consulting International, tells Yahoo Life that he expects even more parents will secure domain names for their children after learning that the Sussexes did it. He's also in favor of the idea.

"Anything that may protect your children's digital security in the future is a good thing to consider," he says. But, Brooks points out, "domain names can get hijacked," and parents may want to consider domain privacy protection to monitor and keep the domain name secure while it's sitting there. 

Ultimately, though, Brooks says that securing your child's domain name "is a harmless practice at the moment."

Melissa Santos, division chief of pediatric psychology at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, tells Yahoo Life that plenty of parents are doing this, and also securing social media accounts for their kids. Most recently, Bachelor stars Lauren Burnham and Arie Luyendyk Jr. created the Instagram account @luyendyktwins for their newborn babies, where they shared photos from Burnham's pregnancy. It has 317,000 followers and features a sonogram image of the babies in the womb as the profile photo. The twins were born earlier this month, and posts now feature the babies. Burnham and Luyedyk Jr. also created an Instagram account for their first child, Alessi, who was born in 2019, and share pictures and updates on her behalf. 

Former Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson East also launched an Instagram account for her daughter, Drew Hazel, before the baby was born. It has 511,000 followers.

"It really does give a new meaning to the family photo album and I oftentimes wonder what the reaction of some kids are going to be like when they get older," Santos says. "It's one thing to ooh and ahh at baby photos when you are with your family but now we have 'How many likes did that photo get?' or 'How come this photo didn’t get a lot of likes?' Children haven’t given consent to have a social media presence but they will have one and I wonder what that may be like for kids as they grow up."

Dr. Danelle Fisher, pediatrician and chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., urges parents to be cautious about what they post for their children online. "You are starting your child's digital footprint, which means that everything that's posted online that's connected to your child is out there," she tells Yahoo Life. Securing a domain name is one thing, she says, but actually posting on it is another. "I would be cautious about that," she says. "Kids don't approve those photos and can later be upset that you put certain things out there."

As for securing domain names for children and sitting on them, Lerer urges other parents to consider it. "It's just setting your children up for success in the current environment," she says. "It costs almost nothing to do, and Gmail literally costs me nothing. Why wouldn't I do that?"

Read more from Yahoo Life

Want lifestyle and wellness news delivered to your inbox? Sign up here for Yahoo Life’s newsletter.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting