Chris Early is a video and production specialist, so when his 8-year-old daughter wanted to walk to school on her own, he put his camera equipment to good use. Chris watched Katie walk from the comforts of his home office, and made sure she checked before she crossed the street.
The tech-obsessed dad has been getting a lot of flak for the drone approach to parenting, but I think the criticism may be unwarranted. We are so quick to jump all over helicopter parents for their controlling parenting techniques, and yet—how many parents are allowing their 8-year-olds to walk to school unaccompanied?
Early says that he wasn’t using the drone as a surveillance technique—he just thought it would be a fun thing to do. On his company’s Facebook page, he wrote: “The drone flight following my daughter home from school was a one-time thing done in fun. It was never meant to set off a debate on how to parent in the 21st century.”
The idea of kids walking alone has become a flashpoint in the emotional debate of helicopter parenting versus free-range parenting (or as Bill Maher puts it in the video below, just parenting). The parents in Maryland who are being investigated by Social Services for letting their kids walk alone probably didn’t want to be in the news either. But now, thanks to the media, they are heroes or villains depending on which side of the free-range fence you live on. The crux of the issue is: how much do we let our own fears limit our kids’ freedom and independence?
And while the fearful part of me thinks following my kids around with a drone is a perfect idea (they get freedom, I get to see everything that happens), I know that letting them out of my sight is the only way they are going to grow into adults who can make good decisions on their own.
But I don’t have to like it. Maybe I should invest in a drone, just in case?