Several years ago in the UK a fast food company ran a series of commercials about changing your name to match the license plate on your car. They promoted it as a cost saving measure and then related it to the good value of their food. The commercial was funny as it suggested changing your name to T510 XPR might be the most practical and normal thing in the world.
And why not? Celebrities have long been choosing names for their children that, to most of us, sound a little strange. Those who are famous enough to have a name that has become a household brand are aware of the issues that can arise when someone attempts to assume and misuse their identities online. When they name their children, they are also likely to register their domain name, and the availability of the domain probably had a bearing on what name they chose for their child.
But there are lessons here for the non-famous among us , too. I regularly recommend to my friends that they register their child’s domain as we don’t know what lies ahead for them—whether it is stardom in Hollywood or being the next President. Owning the domain now means that you have secured an important element of your child’s identity from the starting point, and it costs very little to do this. What format the domain takes or how many different ones you own comes down to choice. I have my sons registered as [firstname]anscombe.com, but I may also think about registering [firstname]anscom.be if I want to lock all the options.
Just registering the domain is a good start. Ownership gives you some options going forward and will certainly be appreciated by your child as they grow up.
There is another benefit to owning the domain. You can use it as an email address. This may sound complicated but is very simple to do. The company you register the domain with will have a number of services that are most likely included as part of the registration. One of these will be email forwarding, which allows you to route emails addressed to the domain to another email address. For example, firstname.lastname@example.org can route to email@example.com.
This way, my email address is simple for my friends and family to remember and for me to explain to new people I meet. Then all I need to do is set up my email “reply to” so that it has my domain email address rather than my webmail address. This is all easily done in the settings of email services.
What is the benefit of doing this for a child? When you configure the forwarding you can opt to send the email to more than one email account, so using the example above, I could also route email to a second account so that as a parent I can, if I chose to, see all the email being received by my son. (My son and I actually have an agreement that while I do not intend to invade his privacy, I would check up on things if ever I suspected something was wrong. This would allow me to step in and guide him if needed, and also deal with anything that may not be appropriate.)
There is another benefit as well. If the email address on the webmail service you use becomes compromised in some way, then it’s easy to change account. I can quickly set up a new account and just change the email forwarding to the new address.
We do not know what’s in store for our children, whether it is fame and fortune, or just the need to own their real estate on the Internet to protect their identity in the years ahead. A few dollars a year will make sure they have at least the basics taken care of, and if needed, give you the option of keeping them safe and watched over.
But it’s just a start. Who knows. Perhaps we will start naming our children by domain availability. Perhaps being named T510 XPR isn’t such a far-fetched idea after all.
What do you think?