Parenting

5 Insane Devices for Monitoring Your Kids

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We're in the midst of a tech revolution that's changing childhood for the worse. It's the constant digital surveillance of our kids. Here are five devices that are turning moms and dads into the NSA.

(1) Today there are literally hundreds of baby monitors on the market that stream live video, and many are infrared so you can peer in the dark as your baby snoozes under his Mozart mobile. Some models pivot and tilt, which seems like the sort of tool that might appeal to Seal Team 6. But parents?

(2) Then there are all the gadgets you can attach to your baby, like the Owlet monitor. Do you know your blood oxygen level? Why are we treating healthy babies like they need neonatal intensive care? 

(3) Making parents afraid for their kids is a goldmine for companies, which explains the coming arrival of Smart Diapers that help parents analyze the chemical content of their babies' output. Because how dare you toss such a vital diagnostic specimen just into the Diaper Genie?

(4) Once the kids venture out, there's a tsunami of tracking devices that allow parents to strap the equivalent of an FBI ankle bracelet onto their offspring. One of these is V. ALRT, which can detect if your kid falls down. Can you imagine how anxiety inducing—and yet completely useless—this will be? "Warning your child has fallen. Commence feeling bad."

(5) The new Apple Watch is a revolutionary device, but I worry it could turn into the Swiss Army Knife of tracking tools—video feeds, GPS locators, biometric sensors.

These gadgets promise they'll give parents peace of mind, but they do the exact opposite. They create constant fear—fear so great that you believe you must buy these things or your child is in grave danger. Once you've become convinced that your happy, healthy baby in her crib needs blood oxygen monitoring—or that you need to track your teen's heart rate and GPS on a date, which is too disgusting to think about, you'll be a total wreck. Meantime, your kids feel all the joy of a prisoner under house arrest.

Saying, "these devices provide peace of mind," is like saying, "this box of mosquitoes will provide a good night's sleep." Do not open the box.

About 3 minutes and 22 seconds.

Written by Lenore Skenazy and Jim Epstein. Produced, shot, and edited by Jim Epstein, with help from Anthony L. Fisher and Dan Rogenstein.

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