Academic journal article Education Next

Baby, Think It Over: Technology Meets Abstinence Education

Academic journal article Education Next

Baby, Think It Over: Technology Meets Abstinence Education

Article excerpt

The baby is screaming. My wife is tapping its back. It keeps screaming. She shakes it.

More high-pitched baby screams.

Finally, I shout, "Throw it in the freezer!"

My wife laughs. She turns the little black doll over and fiddles with, yes, the key.

I was first introduced to Baby Think It Over[R] several years ago, when the 13-year-old babysitter arrived carrying--my God!--a baby and promptly tripped on the steps, flinging the little bundle onto the bluestone sidewalk. I gasped. The babysitter screamed. The bundle went Waaah!

My son's school paid $300 apiece for a dozen or so of these computer-assisted dolls. According to his teacher, Ms. Ferraro, they are meant to teach prepubescent kids how difficult it is to take care of a baby and thus make them "think it over." And for the past few years it has been a ritual of fall to see 8th graders in the supermarket, in church, at football games, carrying their "little babies," which Waaah! at the appropriately inappropriate times and embarrass the kid.

But this is serious business. On the Baby Think It Over web site (, you'd think you were shopping for a new car:


"As of July 1, 2007 Realityworks will discontinue support for older models ... Standard Baby (Generation 4) released in 1996, Realistic Head Support Baby (Generation 5) released in 1998, Original RealCare Baby released in 1999.... Please consider the Trade-In Program.... We'll give you a $50 discount toward the purchase of the latest Realityworks infant simulator."

You can't make this stuff up.

The students must take the "babies" for a weekend, everywhere they go. They fill out a chart, noting when it cried, what the student was doing, how long it cried, how the student felt, and how others were affected. My son was reading a book (good for him) at 3:46 p.m. when the baby started crying. "I felt fine," he wrote.

The next entry is in my wife's handwriting. Crying started at 4:55 and ended at 4:55. And what was she doing at the time? …

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