If you look around one of your classrooms, I’m sure you’ll see the sea of Apple laptop computers. Sure, there may be the occasional Sony or HP, but for the most part there is a common theme.
Why is Apple so popular? Well for starters, they have a killer ad campaign. You remember those commercials, don’t you? Who wants to hang out with the fuddy-duddy in tweed?
Perhaps most importantly, Apple allows users to have multiple, ubiquitous computing systems all communicating with each other either via plug in, or on the cloud, from speakers that play music right when we get home, to iPhones that sync with our laptops. And now many of us seem to be catching onto the Apple Watch, or knock-offs like it.
What’s wrong with wearable tech, you may ask?
Nothing, yet. Maybe.
Believe it or not, this post isn’t about Big Data, Big Brother, or anything else that’s Big for that matter. What I want to address are small. Kid-sized. Okay, it’s actual kids.
Recently I scrolled past an advertisement on Facebook for a simplified version of this wearable tech for kids called “Octopus”.
Don’t let the Fisher-Price-style interface fool you; this watch is just as sophisticated a piece of technology as any of them. Through a one-way synchronization with the “parent”’s watch, the child is given a systematic stream of colour-coded commands and chores that they can “tick off” after completion, which sends an alert directly to the parent. This technology, the ad claims, will help parents’ relationships with their kids by teaching the kid responsibility without putting it upon parents to be “naggy”.
Have parents become afraid of their children? Are parents today so afraid of coming across as “naggy” that they are willing to shirk the responsibilities of parenting onto a machine that will command and discipline their children for them?
If parents can’t (or willfully refuse to) face their own children long enough to wake them up in the morning, let alone and teach them life lessons such as the importance of brushing their teeth and eating breakfast, what made them want to have children in the first place?
Although I can almost see the value of such a device for the working parent who can’t always be there for all of these moments in their child’s day, there is still value in at least initially explaining the value of these values to one’s child face to face.
Everywhere in the news and in magazines, we are constantly bombarded by stereotypes about “millennials” and all the self-absorption and disrespect that allegedly comes with it. What kind of disservice are we doing to our children–by failing to pass onto them whatever sense of duty that managed to trickle down to us–out of fear that our kids “won’t like us”?
Sure, a cheery, automated reminder might seem like the idyllic way to avoid nagging your kids to do their homework, but it’s important to remember that these devices and actors are strategically (and expensively) portrayed by companies; Companies that are doing everything in their power to show you only the best of what their product might do. Switch out the happy-go-lucky soundtrack for some screechy violins and you’ve got the makings of a horror film trailer: “Children in Chains: Apple Watch is Watching You”.
No, I’m not technophobic, but I do encourage us all to be skeptical of technological solutions that seem just a little too good to be true. Before you snap one of those things onto your future-kid’s wrist, you might want to make sure you also know how to take it off.
Just in case.
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