Drone Parents: The Next Evolution Of Helicopter Parents

DRONE PARENTS: THE NEXT EVOLUTION OF HELICOPTER PARENTS

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.

Drone Parents: The Next Evolution Of Helicopter Parents

83% of new moms are Millennials and if they have learned anything from their helicopter parents, it was how to be overly involved in their children’s life. Helicopter parents differ from drone parents because they actually had to be present. They had to be hovering inside the classroom, on the soccer sideline, or in the parent-teacher association to keep an eye on their child. Today, drone parents track their child’s every move from afar.

A drone is an aircraft without a human pilot aboard. (Coming to a doorstep near you thanks to Amazon.) So it’s a fitting description for the next generation of tech-dependent Millennial parents who are able to collect data and monitor their children remotely with a mobile device. 

Related Read: If You Hate Technology Than You Must Hate Puppies Too

Today’s tech acts like a second set of eyes tracking their children’s every move, mood, tweet, and heartbeat. The youngest generation (Generation Z) is growing up tech-supervised at every turn of their life thanks to wireless baby monitors, baby wearables, parenting apps, smart home cameras, and cell phone trackers.

Slate recently surveyed 6,000 of it’s readers and found that although many parents were nostalgic about the things they were allowed to do compared to what they will allow their own children to do, “most people…don’t want to return to the 1970s era of parenting.” 

Shifting Parenting Trends

    • 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. 

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. As in many things, practice moderation.

Question: What are the perceived benefits (if any) that you see in drone parenting?

About the Author

Ryan Jenkins

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Internationally recognized speaker and trainer who helps organizations better lead, engage, and market to Millennials and Generation Z. He also shares his top-ranked generational and future of work insights as an Inc.com columnist.

Comments 3

  1. Kind of freaky stuff here. Very good post.
    I think it’s interesting that people are afraid of the government tracking their daily lives, but they seem to think it’s ok to follow someone’s every move when they are the power figure (over their kids, in this case).

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  2. This is the next great parenting debate. When you think the government is doing it to you, spouses are doing it to each other parents doing it to their kids the issue sets the stage for an ethical quandry, caring or creepy?

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