Kid Spyware Brings Helicopter Parenting to a Whole New Level

By Eliza Strickland | October 27, 2010 1:39 pm

kidsFor those hyper parents who must know exactly what their kindergartner is doing at every moment–including how she’s interacting with her peers, and how that will ultimately affect her chances of being accepted to an Ivy League school–here’s a nifty bit of technology. Researchers in Japan are testing out a device for kids to wear that gives parents the ability to see everything that passes before their kid’s eyes.

New Scientist reports:

The technology builds on existing devices that can track the location of a child, but this gadget also monitors what the child is seeing, and even their pulse. If a child’s heart rate is faster than usual, it snaps a photo of their point-of-view and alerts parents via email…. A password-protected website allows parents to access an activity log and photos taken during the day.

Seung-Hee Lee of the University of Tsukuba, who led the team that built the device, says it could help parents find out about bullying or could be used to track down a missing child, but we can think of lots of other handy uses. Parents can find out if their kid’s eyes waver from the blackboard, and punish them accordingly. They can find out who their kid has a raging crush on by keeping a close watch on that heart rate.

The gadget is currently being tested on 10 children aged 2 to 6, and further trials are planned for slightly older school children. The device’s makers also hope to add a microphone and software that will store the child’s conversations. As for privacy concerns, Lee scoffs at them. She’s a mother, she told New Scientist, and she’d choose safety over privacy for her child any day.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!
  • Louise

    Wow. It’s hard to believe this is for real! I wish you had a picture of the “gadget”, as I am trying to imagine how it is worn. Can the kids take it off? Does it get “locked” on? Or is it implanted somehow so the kids don’t know they’re wearing it? I can’t imagine this being good for self-esteem. In fact, I would bet any child wearing this kind of device – even if it is discreet – would be more susceptible to bullying. Yes, you can track down a lost or delinquent kid, but I don’t see how you could foster confidence or independence with this. It seems like it has more cons than pros.

  • David Yates

    “She’s a mother, she told New Scientist, and she’d choose safety over privacy for her child any day.”
    “We’re an intelligence agency and we’d choose ‘safety’ over privacy for our citizens any day.”
    Dick Cheney is foaming at the mouth over this as we speak.

  • Elle

    I can see applications for this product with autistic and non-verbal children. I imagine that if you have an elementary aged child who has limited communication skills, this could be a way for parents to know what they did at school that day.

  • Eliza Strickland

    @ Louise: The New Scientist article has a picture of a kid wearing this device. It consists of a small heart rate monitor that’s worn next to the skin, and a larger gizmo with the camera, GPS receiver, etc that’s strapped on outside the clothes.

    @Elle: Along those lines, here’s a sensor that has been specifically designed to help caregivers understand autistic children’s emotional states.

    — Eliza, DISCOVER online news editor

  • Les Argen

    I think this device will need a microphone too, so that the parent can butt in where necessary.

    “Oh, come on teacher. Don’t swallow that excuse. My kid’s been to the toilet 3 times today already. Get him to sit still and do some work or I’ll be talking to the Principal.”

    “Get off my kid, you brute!”. Now, this one could bring in the child of the brute as well.
    “Hey, numbnuts. Your kid started it. And now he’s picking his nose. That’s disgusting”.

    This device could be a godsend for parents who don’t want to have their own life.

  • DIY

    Absolutely amazing technology. It will be VERY interesting how this will be marketed.

  • Linda

    This would be a horrible ordeal for children.

  • Joe Cannuck

    Worst idea ever. Don’t even want to see where that’s going to take society a few generations later….


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