Wednesday, December 06, 2000

Here's looking at you

A recent report on the intellihealth Web site has got me thinking. It concerns a new high-tech system for neonatal intensive-care units that allows parents of premature infants to visit their little ones via the internet when they can’t be at the hospital, check on the child’s status at any time, access information about any medical conditions their baby may be suffering or prone to, and videoconference with doctors, nurses, even the tiny patient.

I think this is just an awesome idea. And I think it should be expanded. Specifically, I think such systems should be installed in every school in the land. Now. Today. I’m waiting.

This is the sort of constant access to information on my children I’ve been craving. What does my daughter look like when she’s taking a test? Is she really resisting the urge to peek at the paper of the person across from her? Turn on the camera, and I’m there. What is my son doing to warrant those sad faces on his daily chart? How precisely is he torturing the music teacher? Let’s have a look. Six hours is a long time to be away from my kids (though don’t get me wrong, I NEED those six hours), and it’s not like I can count on them to give me anything more than a one-word answer to “What did you do today?”

Some day cares have been offering parents live internet views of their youngsters at play for years, so the technology does exist. But I do so like the extras that the NICU parents have had access to. No more hassles about scheduling meetings with the teacher; we’ll just videoconference. No more waiting for report cards; daily progress reports can be posted. No more wondering about third grade math; tutorials online, anyone? No more failing to bring home homework assignments; it’s all there on the Web site.

Now, I suppose this would probably raise my property taxes. Technology is cool, but it’s not cheap. And the schools would of course have to hire teams of techies to keep it all going. But I don’t care. I’m consumed with curiosity. And they do so discourage parents from hanging around outside the school and peeking in the windows. Give me the hidden cameras. Now. My daughter’s got a test today.

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