Want to know what’s up with your kid? Just implant her with a GPS microchip that can track her every move.
That will be a real option for parents in 20 years, predicts Adrienne LaFrance in “Baby, Monitored,” in the December issue of the Atlantic. Her article charts how the tech industry has started to disrupt dirty diapers, naptime, tears and just about everything else that can be measured, charted and visualized about infants.
“Take the Starling, a device that clips onto a baby’s clothes and counts the number of words he or she hears (and, later on, says) each day,” LaFrance offers. “The technology is based on research suggesting that kids who hear more words have bigger vocabularies and perform better on IQ tests.”
But it might not be so smart to stuff cribs with the latest innovations. It’s nifty that a sleep-tracking bodysuit can send alerts to a parent’s cellphone with a baby’s temperature. It’s also a tad freaky that “scientists don’t know, for example, whether having a Bluetooth-enabled device pressed up against a tiny abdomen for hours at a time could cause health problems later on,” LaFrance writes.
Parents dutifully logging data about all of their babies’ behavior into apps may be too sleep-deprived to consider the possible privacy concerns down the road. There’s also a risk, of course, that it’s the parents themselves who will become the problem. LaFrance quotes a historian who believes that access to too much info may lead to more of what is often called helicoptering behavior.
None of these issues seem to be slowing the rate of infant-tech growth. So LaFrance writes that the “logical conclusion” of this trend is implantable microchips with GPS capabilities — “like the Find My iPhone app, but for people,” she explains.
And that may come in handy, because it’s easy to lose a kid when you’re spending too much time studying screens.