New Site Marketed as Facebook for Babies

September 15, 2008 08:56 AM
by Rachel Balik
On Totspot, a new social networking site, parents can create profiles for their babies, update relatives and make friends.

Parents Create Internet Identity Early

The babies posting profiles on Totspot probably won’t be logging on to the site to procrastinate the way most Facebook users do. Instead, they, or more accurately, their parents, will be using the site to keep in touch with friends and family, and even meet other babies and their parents.

The New York Times profiled some of beta site Totspot’s embryonic usership, and found that most parents feel that the site provides a good way to spread news about their child’s development to relatives. But they’re also using the social networking aspect of the site and finding new playmates for their children.

Some Internet experts feel this is a natural evolution of Internet usage, but others worry about consequences.

Opinion & Analysis: Complications of social networking

John Palfrey, a Harvard Law professor, is one person who expresses concern about the ramifications of Totspot. “Whether or not they realize it as such,” he told the Times, “parents are contributing to their child’s digital dossier. And, who sees that dossier later on may be of concern.” For older people, social networking can potentially damage lives and careers when profiles display unflattering, immature or inappropriate behavior. Although it’s unlikely that babies will partake in the kind of activities that get college students into trouble, there is some concern about the ethics—and embarrassment—associated with your employer learning about the first time you burped.

In a response to the Times article, the Totspot Blog emphasized their “Your Kid, Your Content” policy, which assures parents that they own the photos of their children. Theoretically, parents will have close watch on who can see photos they post now, and in the future. They also emphasized their privacy policy, promising parents that the site poses no safety threats.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult for social networking sites to completely enforce the policies intended to protect children from harm. When Lori Drew’s daughter had a falling out with classmate Meghan Meier, she invented a MySpace profile of a boy who flirted with Meier, then rejected her, allegedly driving her to suicide. Drew was ultimately indicted on “federal counts of conspiracy and accessing protected computers without authorization.” In this case, Drew’s use of MySpace to pretend she was someone else was considered a violation of the terms of the site.

Reference: Baby networking sites and Internet safety


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