BTIO Educational Products, Inc., formerly Baby Think It Over, Inc., is a Wisconsin based educational products company founded in 1994 (www.btio.com). They developed many different programs that are intended to teach youth and young adults the responsibilities of life, such as the Baby Think It Over program, The Empathy Belly Pregnancy Simulator, and the NICoteen program.
In the NICoteen program, teens are asked to carry a NICoteen Pack smoking simulators throughout a weekend. The Pack requires teens to simulate the estimated time an addicted smoker spends smoking each day. To simulate a puff on a cigarette, the teen must say one of the seven special NICline phrases into the microphone. The Pack uses voice recognition technology to ensure that only the approved phrases are used and uses a student ID to ensure only the assigned teen is participating in the smoking simulation. Throughout each smoking session, the teen hears informative and thought-provoking statements related to smoking. (www.btio.com)
On the other hand, with the Empathy Belly Pregnancy Simulator, teens are given the opportunities to experience "20 typical symptoms of pregnancy including:
· Weight gain of 30-33 pounds
· Pregnant profile of enlarged breasts and protruding abdominal belly
· Change in physical and personal self-image
· Continual pressure on the abdomen and internal organs
· Postural change in the back with an increase in lordosis or "pelvic tilt"
· Shift in one's center of gravity; low backache
· Mild fetal kicking and stroking movements
· Shallow breathing capacity and shortness of breath
· Increase in body temperature, pulse and blood pressure
· A flushing sensation and increased perspiration
· Awkwardness in all body movements
· Bladder pressure and increased sense of urgency and frequent urination
· Increased fatigue, slowed pace and restricted activity
· Changes in sexual self-image and abilities" (www.btio.com).
Finally, the most popular education product that has been used by many Canadian high school family studies program is the Baby Think It Over Program. This program is designed to give youths or young adults the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about parenting. The parenting simulation uses the Baby Think It Over infant simulator to offer an experience that simulates the parenting of an infant. By attaching an ID to a participant's wrist, the instructor may ensure that only the assigned teen can care for the electronic baby. Then, the baby cries for care according to schedules selected by the instructor. When the electronic baby cries, it is the teen's responsibility to determine and provide the type of care the baby needs: feeding, rocking, burping, or diapering. Sometimes the baby is just fussy and cannot be quieted by the teen. (www.btio.com)
The electronics in the baby back monitor the quality of care the baby receives. The electronic baby reports the number of times each type of care was provided, as well as wrong positioning, rough handling, Shaken Baby Syndrome, and more. (www.btio.com)
Unquestionably, these products have their educational values and seem to have prevented the participants from making impulsive decisions in the later years of their lives. However, it is questionable that whether these products depict the actual experiences of smoking, getting pregnant and having babies. There are probably more than 20 symptoms of pregnancy and there are perhaps more than a dozen financial and social problems associated with raising children. But such electronic simulators have acquired "more legitimacy, value and power than the originals themselves" (Taylor 183). These simulators look real and they are given out by health-care professionals or academic institutions.
After all, one could now share their pregnancy or parenting experiences without actually having to go through pregnancy. This is hyppereality.
See bibliography for photo credits.
Baby Think it Over Program:
Electronic Baby Simulators:
Young adults taking care of their simulated babies:
The Empathy Belly Pregnancy Simulator:
The NICoteen program:
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