The story appears on

Page B6

September 20, 2011

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature

Some monitoring tactics and products:

BABY monitors:

These devices, some with audio and others with video as well, seem to be a mixed blessing. They can provide parents with peace of mind, freeing them to be elsewhere in the house while the baby naps, but sometimes they accentuate anxiety.

Skenazy likens night-vision baby monitors to the surveillance cameras used by convenience stores and prisons. "It's treating your child's bedroom as if it's the streets of Kandahar, the battle-scarred Afghan city," she says.

Tracking devices:

Of the 800,000 children reported missing in the US each year, the vast majority are runaways or were abducted by a parent. But there are enough kidnappings by strangers, including a few making national news, to fuel a large, evolving market for products catering to apprehensive parents.

The devices range from clip-on alarms to GPS locators that can be put in a backpack or stuffed in a doll, but they have limited range and can raise safety concerns of their own. Some parents inquire about implanting traceable microchips - but removal by a runaway or kidnaper could be grisly.

Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, says the devices can be helpful in some circumstances but worries about overreliance.

He cited the case of a little girl who activated her wristband alarm when she was abducted. The abductor cut off the device, left it behind and later killed the girl. He said the child might have been better off yelling for help.


For many parents, one of the toughest decisions is whether to spy on a child's computer and cell phone activity. It is common for some children to send more than 100 text messages a day, and a recent Associated Press-MTV poll found that about one-quarter of teens had shared sexually explicit photos, videos and chat by cell phone or online.

Walsh, the Minneapolis psychologist, says the best initial step for concerned parents is a heart-to-heart talk with the child, with monitoring used as a contingency measure only if there is clear justification.

Dr Henry Gault, who practices child and adolescent psychiatry in Deerfield, Illinois State, says parents who spy on their children "are walking down a slippery slope" and may end up causing worse problems than the ones that prompted the surveillance. He suggested it is normal for a child to try to keep some secrets from parents.

Home drugs tests:

Compared to tracking and spyware gadgets, home drugs testing kits are relatively low-tech and inexpensive. But they raise tricky issues for parents, who may be torn between alienating their child on the one hand and living with unresolved doubts about possible drug abuse on the other.

David Walsh directed an adolescent treatment program earlier in his career and says the at-home tests can be appropriate when parents have solid reason for suspicion.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend