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Automated parenting: Google patents tech to help parents spy on their kids, but an expert says it’s a bad idea

Google has obtained a patent for technology which will enable parents to monitor their children when they’re not home.

The patent covers the use of audio and infrared censors and cameras in the home to watch family members and alert parents when they fail to conform with behavioural rules set by parents.

Using the technology, parents would be able to place limits on water use, control children’s television time, and see how long their kids spend brushing their teeth.

But child psychologist and leading parenting expert, Justin Coulson, said the technology is bad news.

“We have really strong research evidence from the past several decades that highlights the more children feel controlled, the more they get sneaky,” he told 3AW’s Tom Elliott.

“The more we impinge and infringe on their sense of autonomy and volition, the more they feel like they don’t have freedom, the more likely it is that they’re going to get up to mischief.

“The best parenting advice is that our children need to have strong connections with us. The more they feel like we’re controlling them, the more we weaken that connection.”

Mr Coulson said monitoring children’s eating habits using the technology has the potential to be particularly harmful.

“When we look at what we know about those kinds of controlling approaches around children and eating, the evidence is even more frightening,” he said.

“The research shows that the more we try and control our kids eating, the less capable they are of understanding their body’s satiation signals.”

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