Identity: Of the approximately seven billion people on the planet, only 2.4 billion are online. But the rest will be. That may explain why some parents are snapping up websites and e-mail addresses for their toddlers, or even picking unique names so that their child will have a unique Internet “handle.”
“In the past, there was no such thing as a name being ‘taken,’” says Laura Wattenberg, whose website Baby Name Wizard tracks the popularity of names like Jonathan and Elvis over the last century. But today, owning one’s name online is both a status symbol and a way to guard one’s reputation.
One man, Jason Frumkin of Chicago, thinks it’s a business. At digitaltrustfund.com, Frumkin plans to charge parents around $295 to snap up and manage e-mail and social-media accounts for their children, even those yet to be born. (Domain names may cost more. According to Sedo, a broker of website names, the average price for “.coms” was $595 in 2011.) Says Frumkin: “Eight or 10 years from now, when their child becomes aware of this stuff, who knows how many more people will have been born with the same name?”