Dispatch from the future:
From: Carter Kohl, 34 inches, 30 pounds, 17 months.
To: Friends and family.
Message: Feel free to contact me. Even though I cannot read just yet, you can still send me e-mail. My parents will read it to me and will help me respond to all your messages. In advance, thanks for getting in touch. I’ll be reading and replying back to you before you know it!
Young Carter may not know it, but along with a galloping number of tiny citizens, he is already wired. Despite his limited lexicon, featuring the words fish and light (pronounced “ish” and “ite”), Carter possesses his own e-mail address and an inbox filling up with messages from family and fans.
Luke Seeley, 22 months, has two Web sites of his own, including lukeseeley.com, a domain his father purchased soon after an ultrasound showed that his first child was a boy, four months before the baby was born.
Given his more advanced age, Luke, who like Carter also has an e-mail address ([email protected]), possesses a slightly larger vocabulary, which includes computer, mouse and Google, said Gordon Seeley, his father.
Luke “knows his animals,” Seeley added, and understands that mouse has two different meanings: something small that moves things on a bright computer screen and something small that devours cheese and lives in terror of cats.
Carter and Luke are pioneers in the latest technobaby twist to hit the Web, as parents snap up websites and e-mail addresses in the names of the next generation, long before their children can read, eat solid food or, in some cases, have even left the womb.
“It’s like owning a piece of real estate online for him,” said Seeley, 34, who lives in Vancouver, Washington, and specialises in Internet sales for an advertising firm. “By the time he’s a teenager and he’s really into the Internet, who knows what’s going to be left in terms of domains'”
The motivation, parents and other experts say, is akin to securing a good street address in a fast-developing city a decade early, so the children do not have to live on virtual Main Street, stuck when they eventually develop the motor skills to log on, with an obscure domain name like lukeseely.ce, or a pedestrian e-mail address like [email protected]
With many free e-mail providers like Hotmail and Yahoo, the user typically has to sign on regularly to keep the accounts active. And, really, who has time when you are teething'
It is impossible to say exactly how many preliterate children possess their own e-mail accounts and websites, but companies that sell domain names and e-mail accounts say the trend is increasingly common.
It is the latest expression of baby obsession in cyberspace, following the explosion over the last few years of Web logs documenting a child’s every milestone and similar family Web sites filled with photographs.