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Internet of Things (IoT) 24 December 2018

The Wired Nursery

This month, we’ve asked parents to share their experiences of raising kids in the tech age. Today’s guest author is Kimberly Rae Miller, author of Beautiful Bodies and the bestselling memoir Coming Clean.

Being a parent means living with constant, underlying anxiety over just about everything from how to slice hot dogs, to the age old winter jacket vs. car seat conundrum, to whether all the tech used to keep kids alive/make life with them easier is actually going to screw them up/destroy your life.

The latter takes a fair bit of cognizant dissonance. Most of us know at least some of the pitfalls of our wired life. After all, the digital assistant in my living room knew that I was pregnant again about five seconds after I did (and yes, there are Bluetooth-enabled home pregnancy tests), and voila, almost immediately targeted ads for diapers and nursery furniture started showing up when I shopped online. Most of the time I brush aside how uncomfortable it all makes me, because the gizmos and gadgets that make momming slightly easier are maybe worth the invasion of privacy.

When I was pregnant with my now two-year-old son, I knew that I didn’t know much and was willing to shell out a good portion of my savings for anything that promised to keep my baby safe. I obsessed over every baby-related social-media ad, spent hours debating whether to buy a glorified bottle warmer that would auto ship formula based on my child’s age and recorded food intake, and made spreadsheets to compare and contrast the virtues of various baby monitors. Sure, our friends had given us an old school audio monitor, but the fancy camera that I kept coming back to meant my baby’s every move would be broadcast on a 24-hour feed…as long as I kept paying the monthly subscription fee. Would some creep on the Internet watch me as I nursed or try and figure out my first pet’s name—maybe, but I cared about my baby more than I cared about my privacy.

I spent $300 for a magic sock that would monitor my baby’s heart rate and breathing while he slept. A “must have” that I promptly sold for about half of what I paid when I realized my son never slept long enough for it to be an issue. Now that we’re in full-blown toddler territory, I find myself constantly trying to manage the online life of a tech-savvy two year old who can navigate my tablet better than I can and who can summon “Baby Shark” marathons from any room in our house thanks to those ever-present digital doohickeys that I mostly use to check the weather.

Perhaps it’s second child syndrome, but now that I’m pregnant again I’m not as tempted to invest in the latest baby tech. I’ll probably buy another camera for this kid’s room – eventually – but this time my priorities are more focused on the security basics. Then maybe, just maybe, I’ll spring for the changing pad/scale combo that can graph my baby’s growth on my phone. Because why not add one more thing to obsess over? I am a mom, after all.

The connected future is here. Imagine the possibilities. #GetIoTSmart

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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