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December 12, 2010

This is the fourth installment in a 20-part series entitled, "Harmful Christmas Gift of the Day." I worked as a Picker of items at an Amazon.com processing warehouse for a good chunk of the holiday season, and the only thing I got out of it was a list of disturbing, harmful items parents are buying for their children (or each other) this Holiday. This article and many more at my site http://www.YeahHeDid.com! Today's item: The "Spy Gear" Security Scanner for kids. This one is shocking.

Life is all about managing expectations. If you can learn to do it, barring any major catastrophes, you’ll do just fine in this life. If you’re unmarried and single, it’s pretty easy. You just need to make sure people don’t expect too much out of you (or too little).

For example, making sure your undereducated retail manager knows that the part-time position you regrettably took to start paying off student loans is extremely temporary… that, chances are, he’s spending a whole lot of time and money to train you to do something you’ll probably only do for two weeks until you get a job that doesn’t make you feel terrible about yourself and the direction the human race is moving in… a job you could have taught your golden retriever in half the time it takes the retail environment to crank out competently trained employees.

If you’re a parent, however, managing expectations becomes exponentially more difficult. You’re obviously still managing others’ expectations of you, but you now run into the problem of trying to make sure you help manage the expectations of your children. Today’s item of the day is the first of a series of items I’m going to profile made by one particular company that make this job nearly impossible, and will ultimately result in you failing as a caregiver if purchased. I’m here to stop you from buying them before you ruin your children. The company is Spy Gear.

When I was a little kid, “granny” (who was not my grandma, but lived with her… and by “lived with her” I mean she sat on a chair in my grandma’s living room for years and years doing over-sized crossword puzzles and sometimes yelling at us for watching Ahh! Real Monsters and not muting the TV during commercial breaks) would sometimes break from her role as “mean lady” in my life and give my siblings and I five dollars each to take to the dollar store to go nuts with.

I may not have been the smartest shopper back then (I bought several “golden” astronaut money banks one year… instead of buying one and putting the rest of the money in the bank, like a smart person would have), but I was just savvy enough not to be taken by spy toys.

What do I mean by spy toys? Things like “night vision goggles” and “spy watches,” items we all, in theory, would love to have, but most of us never buy because we’re smart enough to know they aren’t going to do any of the things we want them to, and are going to be so disappointing in every way that our imaginations won’t even be able to convince us they’re real.

I was one of these smart kids. I remember the exclamatory remarks pasted all over the cheap packaging spy toys came in… “Invade the enemy fortress in the dark of night with night vision goggles!” or “Take your spy mission to the next level with the spy watch! Record secret transmissions and send them back to home base!” I didn’t know this until I went to college, but it’s very illegal to lie about the capabilities of your product, especially right on the packaging. For some reason, these companies are still getting away with it. Spy Gear leads the way. Let’s explore the first of the many troubling items Spy Gear is peddling.

1. The Spy Gear Security Scanner

This item one of the most troubling things I’ve ever seen that is specifically geared towards a child. While most of the items Spy Gear sells are disappointing because they don’t do any of the things they say they’re going to do, this item’s most redeeming trait might be the fact that it does not work as it’s supposed to… for the sake of our children. None of us are unaware of the recent changes to TSA pat-down regulations.

A trip to the airport can very quickly and very easily become one of the most graphic and traumatizing “touch sessions” of our lives. Spy Gear decided to take the horrific experience and offer it to children, who can become make-believe TSA security guards and violate their closest friends with the enhanced pat-down techniques that plague our airports and ruin our vacations.

So what are parents thinking? Why would they give their children the opportunity to emotionally damage themselves and their friends with a cheap piece of plastic? The only scenario I can think of is an imminent vacation for the “Gray” family. Little Billy Gray has never been on a plane before, and his parents are very worried that Billy will not be emotionally able to handle an enhanced pat-down from a creepy stranger.

Billy’s chances of getting flagged are high because he collects strange little metal “monster” creatures (he’s a bit different), and often has them all over his person. Mom’s worried but thinks she knows the best way to get him ready… teach Billy how to do it. Give him the means to learn all about TSA enhanced pat-down techniques. All of the neighborkids that think they’re just coming over for cake and a screening of Transformers 2 are in for a very unpleasant surprise.

Most of the kids will end up leaving the party early, their parents threatening imminent lawsuits on the Gray family. But hey… at least Billy will be so familiar with the pat-down process that he’ll probably just treat it like a game at the airport… crisis averted, right? No. The problem? You’ve just traded the innocence of your child for a “safe,” “no surprises” airport experience and subsequent plane ride to Fort Lauderdale. Fair trade? I don’t think so.

Parents: If you’re so afraid of exposing your child to the horrors of airport security that you’re willing to desensitize your child to make the experience more manageable, you might as well just cancel the flight. If John Madden can get around the country without ever having to fly, so can your family.

Read this article and others like it at http://www.YeahHeDid.com