Hi tech babies
Does good technology make us bad parents?
One of my hobbies, bordering on a guilty pleasure, is watching first-time-parents-to-be shopping. When I saw a dad-to-be get excited about a baby cry analyzer, an electronic device used to identify why a baby is crying, the techno-geek in me could not help getting excited. Surely this would have meant a lot less stress for me and my baby?
Man vs. machine
Would it have meant less stress? The readings it provides are: hungry, bored, annoyed, sleepy or stressed. Sleepy and hungry are relatively easy to handle, but what to do if the little handheld device announces your baby is bored, annoyed or stressed? The kid is screaming, I think it’s clear he is stressed. What is this little machine going to do about it?
It is still up to me as his parent to understand the cause and to provide calm. However, if I relied on a machine to do my job to determine why my child is unhappy, how much attention would I be paying to the signs that the machine cannot pick up on? Would I just blindly follow what the icon said? Relying on this technology could hinder developing a skill that all parents need: truly listening to your child.
Technology is not bad
Technology is, in itself, not evil. I rejoice for lock-in wetness nappies that provide happy, dry bottoms all over the world. I rejoice even more that there are people working to create methods to use dirty diapers as a fuel source. I think having ear protectors available for kids so that they can be exposed to music concerts and car races from a younger age is a wonderful way of enriching their lives, while allowing parents to still enjoy activities once seen as taboo for parents of young children.
Baby sunglasses, drowning alert bracelets, distance monitors, teddy bear cameras and squeaky shoes (to hear where your child is) all are great inventions. But – and this is a big but – can waiting for a beep or a buzz until we investigate our children’s whereabouts prevent us from being there when they truly need us?
People are bad
‘You killed my baby!’
Bewildered I looked up at the accusing mom and then down to her little baby gurgling in my arms. My shocked expression sent her into hysterical laughter.
‘I’m just joking. You triggered the breathing monitor when you picked him up,’ she giggled while switching the insistent beeping off. I do understand that this was all in jest, but I did not find it funny. She continued smugly, ‘Remember how you checked on your baby a hundred times a night when he first moved into his own room? I never have to do that, because of this monitor.’ I prayed silently that she was right, that the power never fails; that the batteries never run out.
I am not sure I am willing to put all my trust in technology, or even that we should. Does having the latest technology really benefit our children – or is it for our convenience? We run the risk of simply becoming too lazy to do the jobs that had been entrusted to us when we became parents.
Is technology just a crutch for lazy parents?