Don’t Let That Kid Out Of Your Sight: Taking Helicopter Parenting To A New Level
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Don’t Let That Kid Out Of Your Sight: Taking Helicopter Parenting To A New Level

I am not now nor have I ever been a helicopter parent. With five kids, I often depended on them to keep an eye on each other. They had the usual share of bumps, bruises, stitches and lowered grades because of forgotten homework that I refused to bring to school (failure is a good teacher.) Since they’ve all reached adulthood or near adulthood, I believe my husband and I followed the right path.

But helicopter parenting (you know, those moms and dads who “hover” endlessly over their child’s every move) is taking a grave turn. And it’s not good.

Blogger Lenore Skenazy, at Quartz, fills us in on some new products that she says are going to “doom” childhood. I’m inclined to agree. First up: MiniBrake, which allows a parent to remotely access their kid’s bike, and hit the brakes if they sense danger. Next: FiLIP, a tracking device you attach to your kid, that

…doubles as a phone they can pre-program with five trusted contacts. It also triples as an emergency device—the kid can push a red button that immediately calls all five numbers till someone picks up. (Naturally, the call is then recorded.) And it quadruples as a sort of invisible fence, letting parents know anytime their kid wanders beyond whatever “safe zone” they have set up.

Japan’s version of this little gadgetry will also monitor your kiddo’s heart rate, under the assumption that if his heart starts racing, something bad is happening. (I guess joining the track team is out. Might throw off the readings.)

Still feeling a little queasy about letting Noah or Stella out of your sight? Afraid to allow even the occasional cookie pass through their carefully-straightened teeth? We’ve got you covered. Ingestible sensors will allow you to monitor fat, sugar, gluten, etc. And of course, every caring parent has already done their due diligence by having DNA testing done so as to tailor their offspring’s diet:

Once DNA analysis upon birth becomes routine, children’s diets and lifestyles will change, says Will Palley, trends strategist at the ad agency JWT. The genomic read-out will allow parents to identify health problems or proclivities from Day One. “Armed with that information, expect parents to customize their child’s diet from a very early age, considering very carefully what they give their child to ensure longevity,” Palley says.

Oh, we can laugh. But it really isn’t very funny. These things set kids up for perpetual childhood – no ability to make mistakes, fall down and dust one’s self off, steal a sweet before dinner. No sneaking a flashlight under the covers to read way too late, no “secret” tree fort with “No Girls Allowed” sign, no skinned knees and scraped chins. Nope; it’s all carefully padded bumpers and strictly monitored “play” with the appropriate people at the appropriate time and place.

This all makes sense. We’ve handed off so much of our lives to government oversight, why not our kid’s? The nanny state is now the nanny.

Elise Hilton

Communications Specialist at Acton Institute. M.A. in World Religions.