Watch this before reading further…
“Download the MamaBear app to give your children the freedom they need & get the peace of mind you deserve.”
“Never have to worry about her wandering off with her friends”
“Spend less time checking his Facebook page and get alerted when he makes a new friend.. you can be notified of inappropriate language (you can set what this is so you could make it even more intrusive..) protecting your kids just got a whole lot easier.”
I don’t even know where to start.. seriously.. this is simply the most intrusive, controlling, inappropriate, boundary crossing and down right disrespectful piece of tech I can think of.
This advertises ‘don’t trust your child’ ‘your child doesn’t deserve any privacy’ - have you also got the closed circuit camera in their bedroom? With the infra-red heat-seeking night-vision lens? Please tell me you haven’t neglected to download the ‘tell my child his/her dinner is ready so I don’t have to bother talking to them’, on a 2 for one this week, along with the ‘read my child’s emotions for me’ app for just 99p!
Is this app supposed to be a collaborative thing? Are parents encouraged to share what this app is actually doing with their children to foster a loving and trusting relationship? Or is it spying? Surveillance? To foster feelings of resentment, paranoia, suspicion, deceitfulness..? And rest assured, kids are clever enough to out-smart the suspicious parents.. uninstall the app, turn off whatever data roaming settings are necessary to make the thing work, I sincerely hope so anyway. I eagerly await the YouTube tutorial made by a clever kid showing in three easy steps how to send all the right messages to MamaBear whilst he or she is off roaming in restricted places, speeding and - god forbid! - writing whatever they want to write on their facebook pages.
The child’s bit of the app just has three deceptive buttons… hurrah for a simple user interface (in this case however, it’s insulting),.. the kid gets to choose between ‘call mama’ (that’s what it actually says), ‘come get me’ (inexcusably bad grammar) or ‘call for help’ (presumably this catapults ‘mama’ out of her armchair and aims her at the child’s exact location complete with martial arts training to deal with the emergency.)
The kid may have no idea what ‘mama’ can see.. and what young person in their right mind would consent to that level of parental invasion?
I may be naive. I have kids, two of them.. they’re boys and they’re small at the moment. However, I am thinking about these things indirectly already. I am thinking about the kind of people I hope my sons will be and the kind of relationship I hope to have with them along the way. I recognise that it will shift and change as they pass through their developmental stages, but most importantly I recognise that it is my responsibility to help them become those people. I was a teenager once, it wasn’t THAT long ago. My parents trusted me and, for the most part, that trust was rewarded with decent behaviour. When my behaviour wasn’t ‘decent’ I learned from it and it was talked about.
I have an approach to parenting my kids where I often ask them if they feel safe or worried, this can be in relation to physical things as well as emotional. If they do feel safe, they can pretty much carry on doing what they’re doing (climbing on that wall, or hanging off those monkey bars), if they’re not worried (if the place isn’t too scary or dark or noisy), it’s probably ok. I hope this will help them to be able to assess situations, trust their feelings, and make decisions accordingly. It also gives them permission to feel worried and unsafe and have strategies for dealing with those situations. This is simply what they will need as young people and adults to make choices that they can manage. I would like to take a leap and say that I will trust my boys to do boy things and get up to teenage stuff and have the freedom THEY deserve, and, though I may sit up waiting for them to get home and worry, that I will not spy on or deceive my kids.