I’ve Become The Embarrassing Parent With The Camcorder

Everyone had a dad, mom or uncle who was addicted to the VHS camcorder. Large and hoisted on a shoulder, it captured every birthday party and canoe trip on its massive tape. Our family’s official cameraman was Uncle Brian. Some 15 years and several rolls of duct tape later, he finally let the old machine rest and enlisted his BlackBerry to enshrine memories.

For two decades, the VHS camcorder was the only way to record video. Then it fairly rapidly became a relic thanks to smartphones – for a while. But now, thanks to the birth of wearable and action cameras, we’re creating a new generation of overbearing and annoying parents hell-bent on capturing everything their child does, with hardware specifically dedicated to the task.

I’m one of those parents now. I’m the new Uncle Brian – Uncle Matt, if you will. I strap a GoPro Chesty Junior on my kids and make them wear the camera while they’re at a dance or running around the neighborhood or swimming in the pool. Then I make embarrassing videos for them on YouTube. For you know, posterity.

They love wearing the camera. They really do. Or they’re lying to me.

The captured images are vivid. They bring tears to my eyes. To see the world through their eyes is a gift not available just a few short years ago. Before, parents had to look down at a child’s world through an LCD viewfinder, missing a lot of details and emotions in the process.

A point-of-view angle lets me, as their loving and obsessive parent, record their memories of an event and not mine. It’s the world captured from three feet up, something that my Uncle Brian could never record.

Wearables are leading to a rebirth of the camcorder. Suddenly, with all the different mounts and use cases, events and happenings can be saved and relived from different vantage points. It just takes a touch of planning. Going to the beach? Grab a Chesty. Hitting the trail? Mount the camera on your bike. Kids racing a Pinewood Derby car? Mount a camera at the bottom of the track.

GoPro CEO Nick Woodman told me last year at Disrupt SF that GoPro doesn’t view smartphones as a threat to their growth. GoPro and the countless other action cameras are for events intended to be recorded. It takes foresight to use an action camera. And it’s not always available. Yet when used properly, the results are fantastic.

This trend is only in its infancy too. More overbearing parents like myself will strap them on to their children as the cams shrink in size and drop in price. Our kids will thank us later. At least that’s what I tell myself.