Move over helicopter parents, there is a new breed of hovering, hyper-involved parent…the drone parents. They are leveraging today’s tech to optimize their children with cameras, apps, chips, and tracking it all from the comfort of their own smartphone.
That’s right. The newest of parents among us—Millennials—are combining their love for technology and their hatred for missing out (FOMO!) into a brand new style of parenting we like to call drone parenting. Just as a mechanical drone monitors activity without a human aboard, millennial parents are now able to have the same involvement in their children’s lives as their helicopter parents, but they don’t have to be physically present to do so.
They have mobile devices and tablets to do that for them.
Today’s technology can do everything short of read your baby’s mind. There are applications and devices to monitor everything from your child’s heartbeat and mood to his or her very whereabouts in physical space. While we might lament the end of days spent “out getting dirty” or “getting into trouble,” it seems that many of today’s parents have no desire to return a time of less surveillance.
The following parenting trends speak directly to this shift in though:
- 83% of new moms are Millennials. (Slate)
- In 1971, 80% of 3rd graders walked to school alone, but by 1990, only 9% did. (John Adams)
- Our sense of community has shifted due to more mothers working, neighbors talking less, inundation of information, and the divorce rate increasing since the 1970s. (Slate)
- Kids’ freedom has steadily decreased across generations, and the trend continues. (Slate)
- 63% of Millennial moms describe their parent’s parenting style as “protective.” (Baby Center)
- The most important priority for Millennials is to be a good parent. (Pew Research Center)
- Millennial moms spend more time on a smartphone and tablet than on a PC/laptop. (Baby Center)
- Three-quarters of Millennial moms report searching for parenting advice on their mobile devices. (Baby Center)
- 37% of Millennial moms have started a business and promoted it through social media. (Baby Center)
Parenting has gone mobile and gotten hyper-monitored over the years. This begs the question: Will the high tech monitoring be helpful or harmful?
As Millennials continue to be eager to pursue their career and/or start a business, they will turn to technology to strike the necessary balance they desire as new parents. Generation Z (post-Millennials) will likely be even more over-protected than Millennials were.
Here are a few drone parenting examples:
- A Vermont dad built a drone to following his kid to the bus stop.
- Ignore No More is a new app invented by a frustrated mother. According to a recent Ypulse study, 51% of Millennials say they do not answer the phone when their parents call. The app allows parents to shut down everything but parent-approved contacts on their children’s phone. To receive the unlock passcode, the child has to call home.
- Sproutling, the San Francisco startup launched by two new dads, is the first predictive wearable for babies. Sproutling allows parents to quantify all of their baby’s actions and track the info on a mobile app that shows data like heart rate, sleep position, alerts when the baby is about to wake up, and predicts what mood they’ll be in. The app also tracks light, noise, and temperature in the nursery.
- Mimo, a onesie equipped with a chip that monitors vitals and movement.
- Owlet, a smart sock that sends your baby’s vital signs to your smartphone.
- Toyota 2015 Sienna comes with “Driver Easy Speak” which is a system that amplifies driving parents’ voices into the backseat so they can be “heard over their kids’ screaming.”
- Smart home cameras that allow parents to view live video remotely to ensure children are home safe and have started their homework.
Drone parents be cautious of the over-reliance of technology that could ultimately dull your parenting instincts. Be wary of technology replacing your human instinct, loving touch, and supportive physical presence.
We do know one age old piece of wisdom that might be necessary in this situation—everything in moderation. There are very clear benefits to having an even keener eye on our children, but they should be practiced with as much care and caution as any other trend or fad.