I’ll Be Watching You: Plurals’ Hyper-Monitored Childhoods

Plurals, often the children of Millennials, are being watched at almost all times from the day they are born, with tech acting as a second set of eyes for vigilant parents. We’ve spoken in the past about the ways that Millennial parents could change families, from bringing the baby to the biergarten to relying on lifehacks and tech to help them navigate parenthood. Now we’re seeing a new implication to this tech/parenting integration. Hyper-monitored childhoods are becoming the norm, moving beyond the generically over-protected upbringings of many Millennials, and making growing up a tech-supervised, increasingly quantified experience.

 

Baby monitors have been around for years in audio form. But today, video monitoring systems have become the norm on baby shower registries, and cameras have become as common a fixture above cribs as mobiles. Nightvision has moved from spy ware to parenting tool, with cameras that can see in the dark to make sure all is well in the nursery after children have been put to bed. Systems like iBaby Moniter send a video feed of baby straight to mom and dads’ smartphone—letting them not just watch, but also talk to their child from wherever they are. iBaby offers multiple monitors, and a two finger swipe on the accompanying app allows users to quickly change views between cameras throughout the house. Once children have graduated from the crib, whole house monitors are available, streaming feeds of every room to laptops and mobile devices. Though currently less common, it is not too hard to imagine that Millennial parents used to seeing their child’s every move might want to continue to watch as they grow up, even outside the house. Systems like WatchMeGrow put cameras into the classroom, equipping childcare centers with video monitoring systems…

 
 

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“As a graphic designer, without the arts being available to me in school I would have been lost as a child and where to take my career path. The fact that schools are cutting art programs is heartbreaking.”—Female, 24, NJ

Applebee’s is putting down the sriracha and giving up on trying to appeal to Millennials. The brand has decided their newer menu items—like a “triple pork bonanza” sandwich—and attempt at a “modern bar and grill” reinvention has “alienate[d]” Boomers and Gen Xers. They’re shutting down more than 130 restaurants and bringing back initiatives from before their attempted “pendulum swing towards millennials,” all-you-can-eat specials and 2-for-$20 deals. Other brands are creating new spin off chains to appeal to fast-casual lovingMillennials, that “[lack] the associated baggage of the old.” (Inc, NPR)

Adults-only ball pits, bouncy houses, and giant slides are sweeping the U.K. Millennials seeking a break from adulthood are flocking to places like Wacky World’s “massive bouncy-castle obstacle course,” which started out as a children’s event. The founder received so many requests that now every event has an 18-and-over slot, and has expanded to 19 cities. This “trend for arrested development activities” is caused by nostalgia, but the influx of marketing and branding leveraging the emotion could be popularizing these playgrounds for adults. (The Guardian)

Facebook is responding to the trend of asking for birthday charitable donations by integrating it right into the platform. Users in the U.S. can now trade in all the “HBD”s they get on Facebook for donations to the cause of their choice: well-wishers will be notified of the birthday along with the selected non-profit, and get the chance to donate. Facebook will ask users which charity they wish to dedicate their day to two weeks in advance, allowing them to choose from 750,000 organizations. (TNW)

Appear Here is the Airbnb of pop-up shops, giving brands their perfect temporary store for the new era of retail. The company finds short term retail space, and has worked with big-name brands like Nike and Net-a-Porter to open “experimental activations” or “test new products.” As brick-and-mortar continues to suffer and long-term stores close, Appear Here says physical retail is still needed, but to “tell a story.” The pop-up industry was valued at $50 billion in 2015, and provides a more low-risk, flexible option to avoid the retail wasteland. (Glossy)

Millennials & Gen Z are turning a profit online and on mobile by re-selling their retail. Thredup, Poshmark, and Depop are just a few of the most popular brands cashing in on the resale economy’s $18 billion market, and some shoppers say they are making $300 a week on the platforms. Some are also using social to sell, often in conjunction with apps or sites, including Snapchat, Facebook Groups, and Instagram. College students on a budget are reportedly especially drawn to resale, thanks to convenience, value, and access to luxury at a lower price. (FN)

“Adult means being entirely independent. I pay my own bills, make all decisions in my life, and feel very in control.”—Male, 20, NY

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