walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

What Vs How Confusion is Endemic: Chipping Kid Edition

I got a fair amount of training about this when I was in school, but it is clear to me now that that isn't typical of most people. So a lot of times when you ask if something can be done, an explanation is given about why it is impossible (like the attempted debunkery of Tim Cook's assertion the iPhone could be used to unlock cars) based on a particular implementation that is not only NOT the only possible implementation, but an implementation that ignores what's already out in the wild.

I ran into another one today over at Jez.

http://jezebel.com/parents-are-dying-for-the-option-to-microchip-their-kid-1692123084

I think the "dying" is hyperbole -- I see no indication that anyone is actually dying.

Obvs, anyone whose kid was mobile before they were verbal has at least _thought_ in passing about chipping their kid the way they maybe already have chipped a cat or a dog.

"The good news is that kids are safe, for the moment, from any surgery that involves a chip being placed under their skin. The Observer spoke to Todd Morris, president of Brickhouse Security, a Manhattan company that specializes in personal and home safety, who told them that it's currently impossible to place anything under a child's skin to track their movements. Not only would they need the chip under their ear, but the child would also need a cellular receiver and battery placed below the skin as well. "

That presumes a very active system! There's no obvious reason you couldn't slap a passive RFID transponder in the kid (just like we've been doing with cats and dogs for like a decade or more) and then setting up a system of readers to ping the passive transponders, the way that, apparently, dog doors do. (Did not know about that. I don't have a dog, but if I did, I'd think about getting one of those!)

Fortunately, the Jez article and the underlying discussion at The Observer does get into clothing and other wearables, so, yay, and there isn't total confusion about what vs. how. Just motivated confusion, which is annoying.

If you're thinking about Tile and similar Low E Bluetooth tags, those actually have batteries in them, just for reference purposes.

I have mixed feelings about the fear of kids wandering off. On the one hand, I know my family genetics. I know how many times my generation's kids disappeared (fortunately, to the best of my knowledge, we did all make it back). I also know how disconcertingly rapidly I've been separated from my son (with multiple adults watching) and my sister from her daughters. I thought this happened with all kids, but I found out after a while that parents who think about installing locks up at adult-only height on the in side of doors to the outside (a huge fire code violation) are parents whose kids are even more prone to wandering than mine. There's a continuum, and chipping some of these kids definitely would make sense.

ETA: The comments thread (and parts of the article) are just silly, getting into stuff like feelings of independence. Seriously? If you could really rely upon a chip or other technology to reassure you your kid was alive and happy and in a reasonable location, I'm fairly certain you'd be willing to ratchet down the other forms of surveillance by a lot. Similar to when you are sitting at the entrance to a playground with a fence with a single entry point. Assuming it's big and there's a bunch of stuff to climb on, a little kid gets to be _way_ more independent in that context than in a place where they could wander off entirely into, say, the road. _Lots_ of parents will let kids play with minimal surveillance in a fenced yard vs. and unfenced yard next to a busy road. 'Course, I don't think independence is really an issue, but that's a whole other thing.

ETA: National statistics on kids reported missing run in the high hundreds of thousands per year, altho a fair number of those are miscommunications, family abduction, kid ran off, etc. The numbers Shrayber quotes -- 20K and 8K are for NY state and NYC, respectively. So Ari Schwartz is dead wrong in the comments when he argues that these should be compared to the US population at 400 million (which that is also wrong -- for a single significant digit, it is 300 million, two puts us at 320 million). The population of NY state is roughly 20 million of which NYC is a little less than half. If you think that 1 kid per thousand population reported missing (often found quite quickly!) every year is "rare" or "really unlikely", well, you probably don't think car fatalities or cigarette smoking are that big of a deal, either.

Cell phones are believed to have been the major cause of a secular decline in missing people in general (adults and children) over recent decades. I believe we probably _will_ do better over time with increasing connectedness and surveillance (even things as simple as Find My Friends and Find My Phone really help a lot), and this may ultimately put an end to people lying somewhere unobserved and dying because they had a seizure or whatever and fell and hit their head and no one knew to go look in that corner until it was much too late.
Tags: parenting
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