A growing industry has cropped up to take advantage of our parenting paranoia: parental spy gear. Whether it’s making sure your baby is still breathing or testing your teen for drugs, there are a number of high-tech devices on the market that can help you monitor your child’s every move.
The big question here, of course, is whether you should be spying on your kids in the first place. Some experts say it’s a slippery slope, and can erode the trust you’ve built with your child. Others say parents have a duty to protect their children no matter what it takes. Dr. Rosalind Dorlen, blogging on the American Psychological Association’s website, says nothing replaces a trusting and communicative relationship with your child. If you must spy, however, say because you are concerned that your teen is involved in dangerous activity, she recommends the following:
” … give your kids a heads-up and tell them what you are doing. Talk to them about why you are adding these [monitoring] programs. You could say something like: ‘We are very concerned about your safety and well being. From time-to-time, we will be monitoring the Internet with a goal of keeping you and the rest of our family safe. We are telling you this so there are no surprises …’ This is one of the ways a parent can monitor their children’s activities, but feel less sneaky ahout the process.”
The Associated Press took a look at some of the spy gadgets that are now available for parents. Would you consider using any of these?
Baby Monitors 1 of 5Today's baby monitors not only let you hear baby's cries, but show your child as he slumbers in full color thanks to high definition TV and alert you to every move thanks to motion detectors. Some even offer night vision.
Drug Testing Kits 2 of 5Sites like drugtestyourteen.com and homedrugtestingkit.com sell kits you can use to test your child for alcohol or drug use. Most require a urine sample or mouth swab, and, like a pregnancy test, you'll get the results in minutes. Photo credit: Fightingdrugabuse.com
GPS Location Tracking Devices 3 of 5It's possible to know where you child is every minute of the day. Tracking devices include everything from clip-on alarms to GPS locators that can be put in backpacks, wristwatches or shoes, or downloaded as cellphone apps on your teen's smartphone. Photo credit: GPS-trackingsytem.net
Online & Cellphone Monitoring 4 of 5There are many software options for watching your child's every move online. The company Software4Parents offers products that can block certain types of content, track your child's email or even silently record your child's text messages. Photo credit: At-risk.org
Old-Fashioned Eyeballing 5 of 5Don't forget that high-tech biological device called the eye. Just paying attention to how your children behave and what they are doing right in front of you can tell you a lot about what they're up to. Recent surveys show that half of all parents simply watch what their kids are saying on Facebook to keep tabs. Photo credit: StockXchng/hisks