A high-tech baby monitor has had so much pushback from children’s health groups and privacy experts its release has been cancelled.
Mattel was planning to release Aristotle to the marketplace and up until Wednesday was trumpeting what this $US299 device could do. The artificial intelligence (AI) unit sits in the corner of a baby’s room and watches absolutely everything. It collects data 24/7 and can respond to the baby’s needs.
If your baby is unsettled at 3am, Aristotle can turn on a night light to soothe them or play them a lullaby.
The part surveillance unit, part AI computer will even grow with your child. By the time your child reaches school Aristotle can help them with homework. After all, who knows your child better than the object who sits in the corner of their bedroom 24 hours a day?
Children’s health and privacy advocates petitioned Mattel not to release the device because of privacy issues, the devices ability to store and collect data and the fact we still don’t know enough about the effects of technology on developing children. Mattel responded by saying it will not “move forward” with the release.
Which brings me to the big questions: Do we really think technology can do a better job than us when raising children? Is a smarter baby monitor progress? Or does the very thing that is meant to calm your nerves just exacerbate them?
I’m in the we-need-to-be-careful about our tech parenting helpers camp. Our uptake of devices that entertain, soothe, rock, “teach” and spy is occurring at a much greater rate than our understanding of their impact on children – and on us as parents.
And when it comes to baby monitors, maybe we are further complicating the already complicated parenting system.
Hear me out. I understand the very first priority of parents is to keep their baby safe, but when safety becomes big business pretty soon parents can be made to feel they need things that actually don’t help.