### Challenging Autonomy: The Impact of Drone Parenting on Children

Gary MartinThe West Australian

In the ever-evolving landscape of parenting, a novel flight plan is being charted beyond the more familiar hover of helicopter parenting.Camera IconIn the ever-evolving realm of parenting, a fresh approach is emerging beyond the traditional vigilance of helicopter parenting. Credit: neildodhia/Pixabay

A new trend in parenting, known as drone parenting, is reshaping the landscape by elevating parental supervision to unprecedented levels, creating challenges that impede children’s autonomy and problem-solving skills.

While helicopter parenting, characterized by parents closely monitoring and swiftly intervening in their children’s lives, is a familiar concept, the era of drone parenting is now taking flight. This modern approach involves overseeing children from a distance, ushering in a new era of remote yet vigilant child-rearing practices.

Drone parents utilize technology extensively to monitor and regulate their children’s activities discreetly, marking a shift towards heightened surveillance in parenting. By employing various apps and devices, they can track their children’s whereabouts, online behavior, and social interactions with precision and immediacy.

The use of GPS-equipped smartphones and smartwatches allows parents to keep tabs on their children’s locations, offering a sense of security while raising concerns about privacy. Monitoring apps scrutinize social interactions and online exposure, aiming to ensure safety but potentially restricting digital independence.

In-home surveillance extends parental oversight even in the absence of direct supervision, pushing the boundaries of child monitoring. Academic tracking tools enable remote monitoring of educational progress, while screen-time control tools help parents manage their children’s digital and real-world experiences effectively.

Drone parents heavily rely on smartphones, tablets, and other digital devices to maintain constant communication with their children, checking in regularly throughout the day. These practices collectively reflect a comprehensive parenting approach that emphasizes safety and development through technology, while balancing involvement with surveillance.

At the core of drone parenting lies a profound love for their children and a strong desire to protect them, often influenced by unresolved childhood traumas of the parents. Despite their well-meaning intentions, drone parents may lack self-awareness and overlook the negative impact of their actions on their children’s autonomy and growth.

Similar to helicopter parenting, drone parenting can hinder children’s independence and self-development, limiting their ability to navigate the challenges of growing up. Finding the right balance between ensuring safety and fostering independence is a crucial challenge for modern parents, as they strive to prepare their children for the journey ahead rather than paving the way for them.

Surveillance is undoubtedly important, and technological advancements offer valuable tools for enhancing child safety and parental peace of mind. The key for parents today is to chart a course that promotes safe navigation while nurturing independence and resilience in their children: the young pilots of tomorrow.

Professor Gary Martin is CEO of AIM WA and an expert in workplace and social affairs.

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