TechCrunch 50: Digital Bedtime Stories Are Icky

I am all for kids using computers, and toys that are integrated with the web. However, there were a few systems displayed yesterday that irked me.

Story Something is digital storybook system that allows parents to create personalized versions of kids stories, substituting characters names, locations, and so on with those of kids, parents, hometowns, and so on. The CEO, Jim Rose, started his presentation by pointing out that parents spend an infinitesimal fraction of times with their children everyday. This apparently has motivated him to start a company to make it possible for parents to receive personalized bedtime stories for their children directly to their iPhone, without any active work.

As a friend of mine, Miko, said today when I described it to him, “Guilt-free bad parenting.”

Wouldn’t it be better to actually spend an additional 10 minutes with your kid, maybe reading “Good Night Moon”?

Then there was Toybots and their animatronic Woozee, that looked like Spike from Gremlins. One of the features of this 21st doll is the ability to read bedtime stories, even using Mom or Dad’s voices. I confess I had an image of Mom and Dad downstairs, watching Dancing With The Stars on TV while the spooky Woozee is reading Good Night Moon to Bopsy for the hundredth time.

There’s just something icky about this. Ersatz caring, robotic toys rocking our children to sleep, and an increased distance within families.

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