Smile – Your Parents are Watching

Sometimes, the connection between my childhood and that of my children and their children seems as if it should span hundreds of years rather than decades. That is certainly how I felt reading an article guiding parents who are considering allowing  the use of facial recognition technology by their children’s camps. After all, who wants to scroll through dozens of pictures of other people’s children in order to find pictures of one’s own offspring? The technology would allow parents to immediately zoom in on their child as the counselors and administrators document activities throughout the day.

To be sure, as the article mentions, there are privacy concerns. Will others have access to the pictures, what if they are stolen, etc., etc. I want to raise a different concern. Do our children really need us looking in at every moment of their lives? Maybe, any pictures at all beyond the official bunk shot are actually an intrusion that we should reject.

In the quaint, ancient times in which I went to camp, our lives there were separate from our lives at home. Once or twice a week, camps demanded postcards or letters to our parents as the price of admission to dinner. Some kids wrote one sentence, others wrote missives. We did not have to worry that our disappointment at being the last one picked for softball or our elation at winning color war would belong to anyone other than ourselves. Camp was a place where we could break out of molds, explore new interests and flex our personalities. It was a medium of growth partially because only we chose what to share with our parents. Did a “non-sports” kid spend extra time shooting baskets? Did a quiet dreamer try out for the play? Maybe the picky eater devoured everything in sight when no other options were available and fresh air and exercise stimulated her appetite. No one was going to ask us about inconsistencies with year-round behavior.

We read of parents calling college professors and even bosses to advocate for their children. We read of twenty-somethings unable to transition to adulthood. We see how many people live their lives with an eye to how they look on social media rather than on who they are. There are all sorts of technical concerns with using face-recognition technology, especially as it relates to children. Yet, it might still be damaging even if it is 100% secure.


4 thoughts on “Smile – Your Parents are Watching”

  1. I really appreciate your wisdom, Susan.

    I raised my 20 year old son in an affluent community in southern California and I was amazed at the degree of control so many parents exercised over their kids or tried to. I grew up in the Midwest (thank you, God!) and we would play for hours outside after school without a parent hovering nearby. At school it was understood that we were to respect our teachers and parents would support teachers.

    After high school I put off college for a year and became a soldier in the Army Reserve and became an adult very quickly while my friends went off to college and continued their childhood. (Hooray for Israel and mandatory military service)

    God bless you! Keep sharing your insight with us.

    1. Changes evolve slowly, Don, so that I find that only by watching a TV show or movie from the Fifties or Sixties do I even realize how much things have changed.

  2. Great musing Susan!
    Acquiring its own space, its own activities and most importantly, its own responsibilities should be crucial for all kids.
    If this does not happen soon enough, it will be super hurful later.

    Thanks for being a source of sane parrenting advice.


    1. I very much appreciate your commenting, especially on a Practical Parenting post. I sometimes wonder if these are being read because they get so many fewer comments than Musings do. I get the feeling it’s growing and I hope people will start sharing them. So, thanks.

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