The Helicopter Parenting Epidemic

New technology allows parents to keep a closer eye on their kids


Parent monitors student logging into SIS (Student Information System) to see their child's grades.

Kayla Maguire, Managing Editor of Design

Ding.  A phone sounds.  A notification alerting a parent that their child has left the house.  Ding.  Another phone.  This time letting a parent know that their child’s phone battery has dropped below 20%.  Ding.  A third phone goes off.  A child was driving their car above 50 mph.  With the technology that has been created in this day and age, parents have the ability to track every move their child makes, but should they? 

Recently, significant improvements have been made to technology which has, for the most part, benefitted society.  However, it has led to increased risk involved with everyday tasks.  For example, users of social media, self-broadcasting platforms, or chatting apps create vulnerability to be approached by predators online. 

Due to the new dangers present in society today, parents often feel the need to be more in control of their kid’s life.  The creation of apps such as Life360 and mSpy that can be downloaded on most smartphones allow parents to monitor their kids and keep them safe. 

Apps such as these can do almost anything from tracking a phone’s GPS location to storing transcripts of text messages for parents to view.  They are providing parents with platforms to monitor every decision their child makes and can be deleterious to the trust shared between them and their child. 

Getting a driver’s license is a step towards independence in any teen’s life but also creates stress for parents.  The loss of parental liberty that parents feel when their teens make the shift from being reliant on adults nearly everywhere they go to being independent in regard to transportation, causes adults to feel like they need to assert their control as much as possible. 

“[I downloaded Life360] when my daughter started driving and I wasn’t totally in control of where she was all the time,” Karen Billingslea, mom of Langley students Elsa and Morgan Billingslea, said.  Billingslea uses Life360 to ensure that her teens are where they are supposed to be and that they are being safe. 

Along with GPS location, apps including Life360 and Mamabear allow parents to see how fast their children are moving when in a vehicle.  Because of this feature, teens often think twice before speeding which results in a safer driving experience for all drivers. 

However, there needs to be a clear line as to what forms of monitoring are beneficial and which go too far.  Teenage years are designed to foster a healthy transition from child to adult.  It is in this time that teens learn life lessons that will build their character as an adult.  Most of these lessons are taught through mistakes they make and learn from.  However, if parents are constantly keeping tabs on their kids’ every movement, when will they have the chance to make mistakes and grow? 

Along with missing out on growth, teenagers who feel as though their parents are invading their privacy are more likely to have a tense relationship with their parents.  They are more likely to rebel against the tracking by acting out which could result in the teens being put in a more dangerous situation than they would have been otherwise. 

If parents attempt to use a tracking app without letting their teens know that they are being tracked, there is a new level of potential conflict between the parent and the teen.  A teen finding out that their parent has been tracking them will destroy the trust and confidence that they held in their relationship with their parent. 

For parents of teenagers, it is very comforting to know where their child is and that they are in a safe situation.  However, teenage years are the ideal time to make mistakes and grow as a functioning human in society.  Teens deserve the right to be trusted until proven to be unable to exercise their independence in a mature manner.