Skip to content

Health & Pregnancy

Spying on Your kids

The technology to spy on your kids is out there. But should you?
Font Size
A
A
A
By
WebMD Feature

June 18, 2001 -- Parents today can use technological marvels to monitor their children -- devices no one even heard of just a few years ago. Nannycams. Programs that keep a list of every web site your child visits. Dime-sized devices attached to a backpack or watchband that tell you where your child is, all the time.

Promoters of these devices promise peace of mind to overstressed parents. But are these devices improving -- or damaging -- our relationships with our children?

Brian Cury has a front-row view of the phenomenon as CEO and founder of EarthCam Inc., a webcam sales company. He says webcams for personal use are the fastest-growing segment of the market, quadrupling in the past year.

"All you need is a dial-up connection, and you can log in from anywhere in the world to see how your child is doing," says Cury. "Daycare centers now promote this service to attract parents who want to share special moments in their child's life, even while they're at work."

Sometimes electronic monitoring can be very useful, says Alan Hilfer, PhD, a pediatric psychologist at Maimonides Medical Center in New York City. "I recall parents who felt unsure and suspicious about the woman caring for their infants. They used a babycam to monitor the situation and learned their child was left alone crying all day while the caretaker visited with her boyfriend in the next room."

Invasion of the Privacy Snatchers

Despite such stories, other parents have considered these devices and voted against them.

"I decided against even using one of those walkie-talkie style baby monitors," says Mary Mazzocco, the mother of a 3-year-old and a journalism instructor at Solano Community College in Suisun, Calif.

"It seems to me they just make parents who use them more anxious and smothering," she says. "Things like global positioning systems or programs that list web sites your child has visited -- they strike me as creepy. I would have seriously considered running away from home if my parents had used that stuff on me. When you have a teenager who hasn't been in trouble and you use methods like that, you're just asking them to get in trouble."

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

Today on WebMD

hand circling date on calendar
Track your most fertile days.
woman looking at ultrasound
Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
 
Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
The signs to watch out for.
pregnant woman in hospital
Are there ways to do it naturally?
 
slideshow fetal development
Slideshow
pregnancy first trimester warning signs
Article
 
What Causes Bipolar
Video
Woman trying on dress in store
Slideshow
 
pregnant woman
Article
Close up on eyes of baby breastfeeding
Video
 
healthtool pregnancy calendar
Tool
eddleman prepare your body pregnancy
Video