Never too young for social media: Parents setting up Facebook and Instagram accounts for kids

Parents are setting up Facebook and Instagram accounts to chart and share the growing-up years of their children, some as young as a few months old

One-year-old Kallista Choo has several social media accounts, including Instagram, Facebook and Tumblr.

When she is old enough to access those accounts herself, she will see herself growing up via the photographs her parents have uploaded over the years.

They set up an Instagram account for her when she was two months old, and then a Facebook page and Tumblr blog.

Her dad, Mr Kelly Choo, 35, says they even bought a domain name for her. "It could be her own blog or website. In future, she can have it in her own name too,"says Mr Choo, chief marketing officer of a start-up specialising in mind wellness.

Her mother, housewife Jessie Tong, 31, says social media is a way for them to "document and share" their daughter's childhood with friends and family.

On Instagram, Kallista has more than 1,300 followers. Mr Choo says: "We wanted to give her a voice before she could even talk."

He likes to get creative with her Instagram account. One photo shows her, when she was just a few months old, with carefully combed hair and a speech bubble that says: "Not sure if this hairstyle suits me. Any comments?"

He values Facebook as a way for older relatives to view her photos. Her Tumblr "diary" is part of this social media stash that he will hand over to her when she grows up.

Parents who set up social media accounts for their young children appreciate having a platform focused on sharing posts of them.

Real estate agent Andrew Phee, 32, says he has not deleted any of his digital photos since 2003, when he got his first digital camera.

He backs up all the pictures, as well as those taken on his smartphone, on an external hard drive.

But he says his daughter Allison's curated Facebook and Instagram accounts are "more meaningful" when it comes to storing memories.

He and his wife, Leslie Goh, who works in digital advertising, set up Facebook for their daughter, now three, the week she was born, and Instagram more than a year ago. Their posts include holiday photos and milestones such as a video of the girl telling a story.

"If there's dedicated social media, it's easier to track her development. It helps to store the nicer photos in chronological order," he says.

Compared to Allison's accounts, which make it easier for her parents to look at photos of her, he says his own Facebook and Instagram accounts can get "clogged" with personal and business posts, such as those relating to new property projects and launches.

Graphic designer Nadia Amin, 30, uses her social media account and her child's for different purposes.

The Instagram account she set up for her 19-month-old daughter Laila has posts such as a video of her first steps, photos of her outfits, and "things babies do that their parents find funny".

Laila's photos are stored in her own account, which was started when she was six months old. But Ms Nadia tries not to post too many of Laila's photos on her own Instagram account in case it "irritates" people who are not keen on baby photos.

However, she posts less sunny parenting moments on her own Instagram, which she avoids posting on Laila's account.

Around her daughter's first birthday, her husband, aircraft technician Faizal Fadil, 31, was unexpectedly called away for a work trip. And Laila caught a bad flu bug.

During that time when her daughter was ill and she was changing sheets at 3am every day, she shared on her own account how she missed her husband and how Laila had vomited on her six times in a day. "It was like having someone to talk to," says Ms Nadia, adding that she was encouraged by messages of support from the mummy friends on her Instagram account.

She does not think Laila will be embarrassed when the girl looks back at her mum's Instagram posts when she grows up. She hopes her daughter will remember these difficult parenting moments when she is older and if she happens to be in a rebellious, anti-mum phase.

Another parent, Ms Cleo Tay, 36, feels that having a social media account for her two children means more privacy when it comes to sharing photos.

She and her husband, Mr Choong Chyi Kei, who work together in his event management firm, set up a Facebook account for their son JunRong at his first-month birthday celebration in a restaurant, inviting guests to scroll though his photos and add him as a Facebook friend.

JunRong, now three, and his sister, WenXin, who is 21 months old, share this account, which has photographs of both of them.

Ms Tay says: "It's a good record of their journey. We don't meet all the relatives very often; it's a way for them to keep an eye on our children's progress. After I post the photos, I get Facebook comments or WhatsApp messages about how he's grown, for instance, and relatives asking to meet up. It's heartwarming."

She likes that the 88 friends on her children's Facebook account are people whom they know well.

She does not post photos of her kids on her own Facebook account because she has more than 4,000 Facebook friends, some of whom she does not know. "I regret accepting so many friends. I don't want too many people to know about my life," she adds.

Like other parents interviewed, she will eventually hand over the social media account she is administering to her children.

While she has not posted inappropriate photos, she is not sure her son would appreciate having this account when he wants to be active on social media. "I hope one day, he will tell me, 'I want to have a Facebook account' and I'll tell him, 'Oh, you already have one,'" she says. "But maybe he won't want it. Everyone on the account is an uncle or auntie. It's not so cool."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 01, 2016, with the headline 'Never too young for social media'. Print Edition | Subscribe