Parenting tech is booming, watch out

Thinking with their OWN brain has never been more important for parents.

Nesta just announced a new report about “what’s next for parenting tech”.

In and by itself, just considering “parenting” as “tech” would deserve a whole book, but let’s stick to the report, because its conclusions are as obvious, as impossible to disagree with:

“As new technology emerges, we want to see greater oversight over data collection and more investment geared toward helping parents from low-income families benefit from the potential of new technologies."

Here are some extremely synthetic comments to the main areas of the report, as invitation for reading the full thing:

Parenting tech is booming, watch out /img/parenting-datafication.jpg

Toys that teach specialist skills

Computer skills are high on the agenda, with lots of products for teaching coding robotics as soon as possible: great. Just don’t make that happen at expenses of reading, outdoor activities

Speech-tech for language development

[Certain products] listen to conversations at home and give personalised tips to improve speech development. Some services… take note of mispronounced words [or teach] children languages. Translation: dear modern parents, aren’t you happy to have so many more ways than YOUR parents to have your children monitored and profiled, since before they can even speak, or grow up to be tracked by their schools?

Continuous monitoring and on-demand parental expertise

New gadgets are monitoring children’s health, tracking vital signs or monitoring sleep. [Other] apps… track child development through hundreds of milestones.

Parenting support is available at the touch of a button, with apps providing personalised parenting tips and platforms connecting childminders to families.

There are too many situations in which health monitoring or online support may make sense to say “no, this is all bad, always”. Just remember that:

  • let any software monitor your kids, and you will almost surely NOT be the only one looking at the results, nor the one remembering them longer
  • if the idea of raising your kids with “apps” as primary or anyway regular support starts making any kind of sense into your brain, the first thing you need to do is close the smartphone into a drawer and go playing with your kids in some park, at least half a day every week.

This said, do read the report, it’s worth it.