Robot Babies: Do They Work?
Infant simulators, aka, robot babies, have long been used in teen pregnancy prevention. The goal is to teach teens the challenges of parenthood. What once started as an egg or a flour sack has evolved with modern technology into the RealCare Baby 3. Robot babies are usually assigned to high school students overnight when wireless trackers will measure their actions. Some, however, state that this approach doesn’t offer a healthy discussion about the complexities of relationships, sex, and parenthood – making it unsuccessful for many students.
While some teens report that the challenges felt real, other’s stated that the exercise was “disappointing” and “doesn’t really benefit anyone.” Evidence seems to agree with the latter. After a recent investigation, the Lancet found that robot babies increased the chances of pregnancy by 36 percent. These results offer an important lesson: robot babies may be easier to adapt to school settings, but they do not work as a long-term educational tool.
The Guttmacher Institute recommends that pregnancy prevention programs “provide appropriate educational and counseling messages that are responsive to the young persons’ stage of sexual activity.” Effective programs provide a comfortable space to actively practice decision making. Finding the best approach to incorporate pregnancy prevention and sexual health education into schools continues to be a controversial topic, however, the conversation about sexual behavior is much more complex than a robot baby. It requires intentional effort to provide comprehensive educational materials that empower young people to make long-lasting healthy choices.