Culture

Inside the Dark and Scary World of Mommy Tech

“I don’t know how your father and I managed to raise perfectly healthy children without all this stuff.”

That was my mother’s reaction to Buy Buy Baby, the suburban megastore modeled after its sister location, Bed Bath & Beyond. We got a kick out of the baby monitors that allow you to speak to your child when you aren’t even in the room. But by the time we got to the food processors I could see signs of overload furrowing my mother’s brow. “Don’t you already have at least three gadgets that can do that for you?” Then came the Big Brother of all baby tech items: the sleeper that monitors your baby’s biometrics 24/7 and reports them via app to your smartphone.

Creepy.

The goal of all of these gadgets and their corresponding apps, books and blogs is simple: Make life easier for mom and dad. The question is, when does all this tech add more stress, not less, to a parent’s already overwhelmed psyche? The same goes for technology geared towards babies and toddlers. Science says kids shouldn’t be exposed to screen media before the age of 2. Yet, thanks to the prevalence of parent tech, babies are grabbing for mommy’s smartphone as soon as they are mobile. Children are acculturated to technology before they are biologically equipped to handle the consequences. As a parent, where do you draw the line?

In the weeks leading up to my own delivery, I began to seriously de-tech. I closed out my Facebook account for starters. (Elbow-deep in poo is not the way I want to catch up with friends.) I also turned off all noise-related notifications on my phone. (The last thing I want is all my hard work soothing my baby to be thrown out the window by one untimely chirp.) My husband and I have already laid down one ground rule: No touching mommy and daddy’s phones. Ever. Sure, parents of angsty toddlers riding in shopping carts might roll their eyes at us now, but the reality is that even we’d much prefer playing with Ellie the Elephant than checking our work email on the weekend anyway.

Bottom line: the whole point of parent tech is to give you more time with your child. If the app or item winds up taking more time to research and use than it actually saves, you’re better off doing it the old fashioned way. After all, sometimes it really is easier to avoid Google and just give mom a quick call.