Home' Greymouth Star : November 6th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
of the New Zealand Herald
s I write this, I can see my baby next
to my computer screen. He is asleep
at the other end of the house but a
camera and microphone connected
to our wi-fi network is broadcasting a
live stream to my office.
A movement sensor attached to his nappy will beep if
he stops breathing. An app on my phone will give me
a daily notification of the milestones he should have
reached, and some suggested activities to make sure he
It might sound like a case of new-parent paranoia but
we are using just a fraction of the technology available
and, compared to some, we are luddites.
The arsenal of technology available to parents is
increasing daily and covers everything from bowel
movement trackers to devices that report back on the
whereabouts of your teenagers.
But is it really helping parents, or just creating an
extra set of worries and a generation of stifled children?
Was life easier when it was a little less high-tech? And,
as some contend, have we become spies on our own
children, monitoring them from birth to adulthood?
It is not that long ago that baby monitors were
uncommon. Now, they come fitted with movement
sensors and video screens and the monitoring does
not stop when children are out of nappies. There are
devices for backpacks to ensure the littlies make it
to school on time and apps that can track teenagers’
whereabouts, driving ability and internet use.
A US woman made headlines last month with her
app that would lock her children’s cellphones until they
returned her calls or texts.
But experts say if the gadgetry is not carefully
incorporated into a family’s life, parents risk stressing
themselves out unnecessarily, jeopardising relationships
with their children and producing a generation that
sees danger at every turn.
Psychologist David Stebbing says it is surprising how
quickly things become the norm.
“I hear often that if children don’t have access to
their mobiles, their parents think the child is unsafe.
That seems strange because 15 years ago, no kids had
Apps such as Find My Friends, or Life 360, which
gives the location of a person’s phone, allow 24/7
monitoring. But it is not an easy fit for all.
One father wrote on a parenting forum: “ We’re about
to give our daughter my old iPhone. I now realise I
have the ability to track my daughter wherever she is
but I’m not sure how I feel about this power. She’s a
good kid and as yet has not done anything to cause us
concern over what she might be up to, but being able
to know where she is actually gives me a feeling of
comfort, but at the same time I feel a little dirty.”
Auckland mum Kiri Last can understand the
motivation. Her four children, aged three to 13, use a
Google calendar to co-ordinate their activities from
their iPads and log in to see what each other is doing.
The apps she uses most are for things like keeping
track of pocket money. But she can see the potential
for more once Zak, 13, starts driving.
Parents of young drivers can see their speed, braking
and mileage, with the Trip Angel app, for example.
“For teenagers, it’s not a silly idea,” Last says. “Parents
have so little control. When he starts driving, we could
activate the GPS on his iPhone to see where he is. But
I don’t think it should replace everyday conversations
and communication. You need to use it as a helping
Psychologist Jackie Riach, of Auckland ’s Triple P
Centre, says if parents are going to try a tracking app or
an internet monitoring system, they should talk to their
children about it, so it can be negotiated and agreed.
Some parents intrude on their children.
“It’s not wrong to want to know where your kids
are, what they ’re doing and who they ’re with. But it
used to be if you read your kid’s diary, you had to be
careful about the reaction you got. Now it’s Facebook
.. . They have to be clear what they ’re going to do with
that information because the minute you say, ‘I know
who you’re going out with’, the child won’t put stuff
on Facebook any more and the trust relationship is
Rochelle Gribble, editor of parenting website Kiwi
Families, says parents need to let their children learn to
take risks as a crucial part of their development.
“ We all want to keep our precious babies safe but
I feel strongly as a parent that kids need to take
and manage risks. If children aren’t learning to take
risks, that can lead to them not understanding the
consequences of risk when they ’re older.”
Parents should think carefully about whether the risks
they are trying to mitigate are real, she says.
“I’d rather my child was brave and adventurous than
always fearful. I’m not saying they have no value, but
parents want to think carefully about each thing they
use, whether it’s helping to manage a real risk or just
helping make themselves feel better.”
What most worries some parents is the web. The
most common form of monitoring is of young people’s
use of the internet.
Netsafe director Martin Cocker estimates about a
quarter of parents use some sort of software to filter
their children’s internet use.
“Monitoring software on kids isn’t going to make
them significantly safer or parenting significantly
easier. It’s most effective to use the information you
glean to have a conversation with children.”
Applications like Safety Web monitor children’s
internet use and send alerts to parents if they detect
anything explicit or signs of cyber-bullying. McGruff
Safeguard lets parents remotely monitor their children’s
on-line conversations, what they have been Googling
and sites they have visited. It even translates acronyms.
Parents can take it to extremes. One United States
college student won a protective order against her
parents in 2012. Aubrey Ireland, 21, told a judge her
parents often drove 965km from their Kansas home
to her university, unannounced, to meet officials and
falsely accused her of promiscuity, drug use, and mental
Her parents, Julie and David Ireland, admitted
installing monitoring software on her laptop and
cellphone. But they said they had her best interests at
Whangarei mum-of-five Rachel Beckham uses K9
Parental Filter to monitor her childrens’ internet use.
“ You can choose the level of filtering, enforce a
password and check the sites they try to get to when
they get blocked. You can also allow them access for a
certain time to a site that is blocked, like Facebook.”
She makes filtering decisions on a case-by-case basis.
“I trust my girl, who’s 13, more than the boys, who are
15.” She started monitoring as another way to keep an
eye on them but has not talked to them about it. “I’m
aware of bullying and just teenagers making dumb
But how well does monitoring work?
Stebbing says: “Some teenagers would be diligent
about making sure they were able to be monitored but
they ’re typically not the ones who get into much strife
anyway. Those who are higher risk are more likely to
disable the monitoring or take their phone and leave it
Sarah Taylor, a psychology doctoral candidate at the
University of Auckland, says research has not proved
the benefits of monitoring kids.
“GPS-type systems do not inform parents of the
exact activity of the child. Nor do they promote
disclosure from the child, meaning they will not lead to
better relationships between parent and child. Parents
must still develop a relationship open to successful
Japanese studies looked at the use of GPS and radio
frequency child monitoring systems — popular in that
country’s primary schools. A school bag tag relays the
time of a child’s arrival and departure from school to a
parent ’s cellphone.
The children who were more likely to use the system
properly were those who thought their parents related
well to them and enjoyed spending time with them,
not those who felt their parents were controlling.
Taylor says international research into parents
who keep in touch with their kids via cellphone had
shown it was associated with less risk of cigarette and
substance use, lower rates of problem behaviour and
decreased early sexual behaviour. It had also been
shown to curb lying, skipping school and involvement
in criminal activity.
It depended on the young person’s attitudes — those
with better relationships dealt with monitoring better.
Those who used cellphones to initiate contact with
their parents were more truthful. Parents who peppered
their children with texts and calls reported greater
The research suggested parents might do best if they
encourage their children to talk about daily activities
when very young.
“As these children grow older, this disclosure may
therefore become a habit independent of the parent
needing to ask.”
It is clear technology in parenting is increasing.
Rebecca Stewart, sales and marketing director of North
Port Events, which puts on the Baby Show that ran
over three days in Auckland last month, has noticed a
change in what is marketed.
“It used to be all books and puzzles but even Buzzy
Bee now has an app.”
Safety products have been taken to a new level, she
says. Parents use security cameras to check up on the
nanny or keep an eye on their children, and attach
them to their mobile phone or tablet.
“ You didn’t see that in the show five or 10 years ago. “
A video of a stroller at the show that packs itself up
with a push of a button, went viral with 10,000 views
in a couple of days, Stewart said.
“It’s a definite trend. It used to be core products like
nappies, wipes, cots. Now they ’re adding technology to
Not only are there apps to help women through a
pregnancy, and to time contractions, other programmes
can turn your smartphone into a one-stop baby
Burnham mum Melanie Bromwich gave birth to her
first child, Patrick, in May, and has been tracking his
movements in her app Baby Connect since.
“It has a timer for sleeping and you can enter nappy
changes, what ’s in the nappy, whether it’s wet, dirty and
the consistency and colour.
“It also lets you record which breast you fed on last
and provides graphs so you can see how much he’s
slept in a day and how many times he’s fed. Every time
I do something, it goes into the app.”
It has helped her through the first few months of
motherhood. “Especially with sleep. It has helped to
see that things have got better and there is light at the
end of the tunnel.
“The first couple of weeks I was going insane but
I can see he’s slowly sleeping longer and it is getting
better. It also helps with ‘baby brain’, I can easily tell
which side I’ve fed on.”
At this year’s Baby Show, parents could trial a Buddy
Tag — a device that uses Bluetooth to connect a
parent ’s phone to a wristband worn by their child, and
warns them if he or she gets too far away from them.
Oratia mother-of-two Tracy Morgan runs Squoodles,
which sells the Buddy Tag in New Zealand. She says
demand is growing.
One pregnant woman who bought a Buddy Tag at
the Baby Show planned to attach the device to her
baby as soon as it was born, to keep track of the child
in the maternity ward if she had to leave the room.
Morgan lives in a semi-rural area and uses the Buddy
Tag on her two-year-old. “If he’s outside playing
and I’m inside, I can set the range to the start of my
driveway so he can’t go up the driveway without me
The device has a maximum range of 50m. Morgan
says it is not designed to take over from parents, but
offers a bit of reassurance.
“If you’re out with friends and sitting talking, then
look up and can’t find them, your stomach just drops.
It won’t stop them running away but it helps find them
when they do.”
She also says it suits parents who want to keep an eye
on the nanny. The Buddy Tag can be set up to e-mail a
parent at work if it goes off during the day.
“ You can then ring and ask what ’s going on, or you
could question them later — how was the day? If they
say, ‘perfectly fine’, you can say, ‘didn’t you actually lose
Back in my office, I can see my boy start to stir. I’ll go
to his room and scoop him up before he gets upset.
I think he and I would agree our monitors and
devices are making life easier. He does not have to
shout to be heard when he wakes and I do not have to
worry he has got stuck in the side of the cot or pulled
the blankets over his face.
But as he gets older I will have to make an effort to
cut this technological cord. A camera in his bedroom
at 14 weeks is acceptable. But if I am still watching his
every move at 14 years, we will both suffer.
6 - Thursday, November 6, 2014
Big mother is
New technology means we can monitor children from birth until they fly the nest, but is spying good parenting?
Apple has posted a new security
warning for users of its iCloud on-
line storage service amid reports of a
concerted effort to steal passwords and
other data from people who use the
popular ser vice in China.
organised network attacks using
insecure certificates to obtain user
information, and we take this very
seriously,” the computer-maker said in
a post yesterday on its support website.
The post said Apple’s own ser vers
have not been compromised.
Apple’s post did not mention China
or provide any details on the attacks.
Several news outlets reported this
week that some Chinese internet
users have begun seeing warnings
that indicate they had been diverted
to an unauthorised website when they
attempted to sign into their iCloud
That kind of diversion, known to
computer security experts as a “man in
the middle” attack, could allow a third
party to copy and steal the passwords
that users enter when they think
they are signing into Apple’s ser vice.
Hackers could then use the passwords
to collect other data from the users’
Chinese activists blamed the
attacks on that country ’s government,
according to news reports and the
Chinese activist website Great Fire.
org, which suggested the campaign was
spurred by the fact that Apple recently
began selling its newest iPhone models,
the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, in China.
The new smartphones have software
with enhanced encryption features to
protect Apple users’ data.
Apple, which is based in Cupertino,
California, said in its post that the
attacks have not affected users who
sign into iCloud from their iPhones
or iPads, or on Mac computers while
using the latest Mac operating system
and Apple’s Safari browser.
should verify they are connecting to a
legitimate iCloud server by using the
security features built into Safari and
other browsers such as Firefox and
The browsers will show a message
that warns users when they are
connecting to a site that doesn’t have
a digital certificate verifying that it is
“If users get an invalid certificate
warning in their browser while visiting
www.icloud.com, they should pay
attention to the warning and not
proceed,” Apple said in the post.
The attacks appear unrelated to an
episode last month in which hackers
stole nude photos from the iCloud
accounts of several United States
In that case, Apple said its
investigation concluded the hackers
had obtained the users’ passwords
through so-called “phishing attacks” or
by guessing at the answers to security
questions that allowed access.
The company said its ser vers were not
breached in that case.
Taylor Swift has removed her
entire catalogue from the Spotify
streaming ser vice after arguing that
musicians should not “under value
their art ” by letting fans listen to
their songs for free.
Swift’s new album 1989 is on
course to sell more than 1.3 million
copies, breaking the record for the
biggest-ever album weekly sales by
a female artist.
Swift had withheld the album
from Spotify and other streaming
ser vices, a move which helped
maximise full-price CD and iTunes
The star has now pulled her
entire back catalogue off Spotify, a
move which has annoyed fans who
accused the country-pop singer of
Swift, 24, who announced a
headline British Summer Time
Hyde Park concert next June, had
previously withheld her 2012 album
Red from Spotify in the weeks
after its release. She criticised the
streaming model — Spotify pays
out an average of $0.007 per song
play — in a Wall Street Journal
article this year.
“It ’s my opinion that music should
not be free, and my prediction is that
individual artists and their labels will
some day decide what an album’s
price point is,” Swift wrote. “I hope
they don’t underestimate themselves
or undervalue their art.”
Spotify teased Swift, posting a
playlist especially for her, and urged
the singer to return.
“ We love Taylor Swift, and our
more than 40 million users love her
even more — nearly 16 million of
them have played her songs in the
last 30 days, and she’s on over 19
million playlists,” the post read.
“ We hope she’ ll change her mind
and join us in building a new music
economy that works for everyone.
We believe fans should be able
to listen to music wherever and
whenever they want, and that artists
have an absolute right to be paid
for their work and protected from
piracy. That ’s why we pay nearly 70%
of our revenue back to the music
Swift’s withdrawal is likely to help
her break Britney Spears’ record
1.3m sales of her 2000 album,
Oops! ... I Did It Again. 1989 is on
course for the largest United States
sales week for any album since 2002,
when Eminem sold 1.322 million
copies of The Eminem Show.
Apple issues security warning for iCloud Taylor Swift shuns Spotify
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