Ethical issues concerning the use of commercially available wearables in children: Informed consent, living in the spotlight, and the right to an open future

Ethical issues concerning the use of commercially available wearables in children: Informed consent, living in the spotlight, and the right to an open future
Andrie G. Panayiotou, Evangelos D. Protopapadakis
European Journal of Bioethics, 19 August 2022; 13(1)
Open Access
Summary
Wearable and mobile technology has advanced in leaps and bounds in the last decade with technological advances creating a role from enhancing healthy living to monitoring and treating disease. However, the discussion about the ethical use of such commercial technology in the community, especially in minors, is lagging behind. In this paper, we first summarize the major ethical concerns that arise from the usage of commercially available wearable technology in children, with a focus on smart watches, highlighting issues around the consent process, mitigation of risk and potential confidentiality and privacy issues, as well as the potential for therapeutic misconceptions when used without medical advice. Then through a relevant thought experiment we move on to outline some further ethical concerns that are connected to the use of wearables by minors, to wit the issue of informed consent in the case of minors, forcing them to live in the spotlight, and compromising their right to an open future. We conclude with the view that mitigating potential pitfalls and enhancing the benefits of wearable technology especially for minors requires brave and comprehensive moral debates.

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