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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Syndicated Column Consults Us!

A representative of a syndicated column (details kept undercover until column runs) writes:
I'm just wondering if you might have a minute (or about 10) to chat with me about baby naming in the 21st century (the "baby background check")


1. How much online research do you think parents do about baby names nowadays?

2. Do you advise expectant parents to google the names they're considering before they actually decide?

3. In the pre-internet days, it was hard to tell if someone had the same name (especially someone of ill repute) but it seems that can be accomplished fairly easily, with a few google searches. Do parents think about this when they are considering possible names? Have you heard of any parents who changed their minds about a name after googling it? (maybe they found out that their baby name was a porn star or a reality star or just someone with a ton of google results?)

4. Do you advise parents (or hear about parents) reserving their future baby names URLs, signing them up for a Facebook account, getting them a Twitter handle or a blog?

5. Have you ever heard of parents ditching a name because the URL was taken already? ("Oh, I can't get - we'll have to name the baby James!")

6. Any other thoughts on the subject of babies and social media?

Thank you so much!

1. The huge number of online baby-naming resources/forums makes me think parents must be doing a lot of research online. I used baby name books to make lists, and then looked up the finalists online to check for "name interactions" (i.e., characters from TV shows). I also looked up names on the Social Security Administration website to check popularity of names.

2. I do think it's a good idea to search online. It saves a lot of "Oh, like from _____?" surprises. A friend of mine named her son Sawyer after finding it in the surnames section of a baby name book, and was displeased afterward at how many people thought she'd gotten it from the show Lost---which she'd never seen. I think it's also a good idea for people with a child or children already to search for combinations of sibling names: sometimes two names sound so good together, and you realize only later that there was a reason for it (such as a celebrity couple or two characters in a popular book). These things might not be dealbreakers, but it's nice to know beforehand rather than to get it as an unpleasant surprise after the baby is born.

3. Sure, we've had some baby-name questions where the parents say they were going to use a certain name and then discovered someone famous (or a famous character) had that name, or even the same first/last-name combination. We've also had questions where the parent was planning on a name (Kate, for example), and then the sudden publicity of someone else with that name (Kate Middleton, for example) causes them to rethink it.

4. I don't see any reason for parents to rush to sign their infant's name up for Facebook and Twitter and blog URLs. I wonder if this happened more in the earlier days of the internet, when it seemed like such a thing would be more important? I remember various lawsuits over people trying to get money out of celebrities and business by buying up those URLs, but that seems to have died down. Also, I think the focus is turning away from "grabbing dibs" and toward protecting our children online and keeping their actual identities separate and safe from their online identities.

5. Ha ha! No, I've never heard of parents choosing a different name because that name's URL was already taken.


If you have time, perhaps you could give the columnist more answers to work with. If you can, include the number of each question you want to work on, to help her organize the information.


Suzanne said...

I have a thought on #3 - When I was a kid, my parents had a baby naming book (no idea which one) that actually included famous/notorious people so you could avoid those names and name combinations if you wanted to. I remember reading the name "Belle Starr" and thinking it was the most beautiful name EVER...but unfortunately I found it in the "notorious criminals" section. So it was possible to get that kind of info pre-Google although I'm sure the internet makes it easier.

Also, similar to your friend in #2 with Sawyer, I know both a toddler named Spencer who almost wasn't named Spencer because of the sudden rise in...uh...popularity of a certain Spencer Pratt and a toddler named Piper who would have gotten a different name had Sarah Palin become vice president (one of her children is Piper). Google is important!

Michelle said...

4. I have to confess, I have already signed up for Gmail accounts under firstnamelastname for my three kids (8, 2, and gestating.) I just wanted to be sure!!! Other things (twitter, facebook) I'm less concerned with, as a lot of people choose handles and not their real names for those.

Nowheymama said...

You're famous!! Let us know when the article comes out.

M.Amanda said...

Searching online sounds so sensible that I would encourage people to do that for the reasons already mentioned. However, that did not even occur to me while naming my daughter. Now she is 2 years old and I only recently noticed that her name is only a syllable off from the prince's longtime girlfriend. I'm not sure knowing that then would have changed my mind about it, but it would have been nice to know. I just got lucky that my little girl has a similar name to a respectable woman and not some trashy reality tv star.

I absolutely would not worry about claiming URLs or online names. The culture of the internet is constantly evolving. What has impact now - Twitter, Facebook, etc. - may be obsolete by the time today's infants and toddlers are concerned with their public profiles.

Anonymous said...

I'd also search Wikipedia, not just google. It's not as accurate, but might tell you about extra notable people.

Mrs. Haid said...

This is really interesting. I teach ESL at a local college, and most of my students are Korean. Right now (and for the last decade or so), parents who decide not for their fathers to name the baby often choose a naming service. As in, they pay a name consultant to consider language meaning (both chinese character and korean characters), time of year and astrology charts, and a parents' vision for their child. Do we do anything like this in the US? I am very into making sure my as yet unnamed daughter has a perfectly lovely name by April, so I read your blog and all the posts, as well as do research on my own.

Maybe this is a niche for you, Swistle! You could make some dough!

Anonymouse said...

#4 - When my husband and I were engaged, he nabbed me myfirstnamehislastname@gmail. He is a geek, so it was a total thoughtful sweet thing for him to do (and my old email address was firstnamemaidenname).

When we chose each of our daughters's names, he did the same thing with them. Then, when they were born, the email announcement was sent from their email announcing their own birth.

It's a little cheesy, but that's kind of how we roll.

The Wonder Worrier said...

#4 & #5:

I think that's craziness! I'm 25 years old, we didn't have Internet until I was 15 in my home... the Internet has changed DRASTICALLY in 10 years time... by the time kids are old enough to use it, who knows what it will be? Also, who knows if they even WANT a URL or *that* email address?

I say parents should leave well enough alone on that front... let their kids make their own choices about social media (informed choices, I mean) during the time when it's relevent for them to make those choices. Kids don't even need to be a part of social media until they're getting a little older anyway. Let's keep childhood what it should be!

/end rant, LOL.

#1-- I don't have children, but I bet I will exclusively search through websites for advice on naming my babies when the time comes... especially with it being a free option!

Adey said...

#2 - I definitely googled the first name and last name of our future children during my pregnancies to see if anything came up! I figured why not!?

Megz said...

3. I definitely Googled the names of my daughters before they were born, and the name they would have had if they were boys (turned out to be a Presidents name so decided it was a good thing).

4. I signed my first daughter up for a blog when she was six months old, and the second a few days after she was born. I blog on their behalf regularly to keep family up to date on what they're doing. I also chose them unique handles for their blogs which they may or may not choose to keep when they're older (i.e. did not use firstnamelastname).

kimma said...

1) Just speaking for myself - a lot.
2) I have never googled firstname-lastname. I use sites like baby names wizard and think baby names for meanings, origins and popularity, as well as the local version of the SSA site (I'm Australian).
3) I did change my mind on the name Imogen first time around because there was a bikini model getting a lot of publicity for the wrong reasons at the time. Now expecting second child and Imogen is back on the list as said model has never been heard from again.
4) I do have friends who've created facebook pages for their toddlers. I think it's unnecessary personally. I can update friends and family on my child's activities through my own facebook and blog when I feel the need.
5) you have got to be kidding me!
6) I worry about the total erosion of privacy some kids are experiencing from birth with parents who do blog about their daily activities for strangers to read, complete with pictures and using real names and suburbs in which they live. I think the trend for teenagers to reveal TMI on social media will only get worse as a result of this and put future generations at greater harm from bullies, stalkers and paedophiles.

Anonymous said...

I'd be wary of speaking to a syndicated columnist unless you could verify where their writing will appear.

Also, keep your answers for future reference unless you are plagiarized in this "columnist's" future articles.

Just saying.....

Christina said...

@Anon above- her answers are HERE, posted on the Internets for future reference. And I'm sure Swistle received information about the columnist (not sure your need for quotes?) and is smart enough to know if they are accredited/trustworthy. Also, you sound bitter. Just saying.....

Now, onto the answers!

1) I'm not even pregnant yet and I love looking online for names, hence why I'm a fan of this blog.

2) I definitely plan on googling considered names to make sure there aren't "surprises" or to see where it stands in the popularity list, alternate spellings, etc.

4) My fiance is a web developer and owns so he sets up email accounts for all family members, and has already happily told me I will get when too when we're married. I can only assume he'll do the same for our children. He also sets up sites for any family members that want to host their own site. I could see him doing that in the future if one of our children wanted to blog or something.

4 still) My God-daughter's mom got for my God-daughter when she was pregnant with her. She encourages friends and family to occasionally send her emails (she's 4 now) for her to have when she's older. I sent her a few early on about how excited we were for her birth, etc. and now usually just for her birthday a special message.

4 still) I have seen people sign their babies up for Facebook (and their pets) and I generally think they are odd and have way too much time on their hands.

Swistle said...

Anonymous- Thanks for the common-sense tips! You'll notice I handled one of those tips already by publishing my answers here on this blog rather than sending them directly to the columnist in an email. And as to the other tip, I meant the details are undercover to you the readers.

Anonymous said...

I did google possible baby name combinations and the popularity of one did add to my "cons" list for one particular combo. I didn't "reserve" anything, but post-birth was disappointed to discover that my first daughter's firstname.lastname was taken on gmail. I haven't signed up her younger sister for an account yet.

Frazzled Mom said...

Thought about #2: I think Googling name candidates - first and last name - is a good idea but I didn't do it with my kids, mostly because our last name is very uncommon.

I found a cool site, and I can include the URL if anyone is interested, that will tell you how common your last name is in the US. My last name doesn't appear in the list of over 88,000 last names!

The currently fashionable name I picked for my daughter has never been paired with my very uncommon last name. My son's name is very common among adults to the point where there would be enough of his same first and last name to cancel out any bad associations.