Friday, January 20, 2012

The Extreme Side of Helicopter Parenting

Old man on laptop

Some parents are going to great lengths to keep a watchful eye on their teen drivers.

I recently came across an article online about the concept of parents staying aware of their teenage drivers by installing a GPS tracker on the teen's car. Since parents fear for their child's safety every time he or she pulls out of the driveway, they need a way to ensure that little Johnny or Cindy is safe! At least, that is the idea that was trying to be conveyed. However, my initial reaction was that this takes helicopter parenting a bit far.

For those who haven't heard the term before, helicopter parenting is the idea of keeping very close tabs on one's children, to the point where they are influencing decisions for the child whether or not he or she likes it (in a way, "hovering" over their child as a helicopter would). It was first coined in the 90's, but didn't start seeing wide usage until the 2000's, when cell phone usage started skyrocketing among children and teenagers.Those who support the idea of such an extreme method of parenting will often claim they are reducing the risk of their child encountering danger by deciding what's best for them, when in fact they're actually restricting the child from being able to make decisions that he or she can potentially learn from.

The GPS tracker being marketed to these parents in question has a ridiculous number of features, such as being able to track when the car is in use, when the brakes are slammed, sudden bursts of acceleration, and a real time speed display in miles per hour. Basically, it provides plenty of statistics that can be displayed via a report for a concerned parent to obsess over. In theory, this concept seems like it would provide peace of mind. After all, if your loved one was involved in an accident, you'd be immediately notified and could find out exactly where they are to get to them. However, the absurd number of minute details you can track is where I think this device goes from nifty to somewhat scary.

All of this has me wondering- should a product like this be used to track teen drivers? Because the GPS is a service, it's not a one time "set it and forget it" kind of deal. You have to pay a monthly fee to subscribe, and at around $20-30 a month, it's unlikely that every worried parent is going to want to shell out the money for it. However, with any product, there is a market for someone out there. When you can pull up a complete history of every location the vehicle has ever traveled, that just seems like a bit much, in my opinion. It's one thing to worry about your kids, and another to install a tracking device and monitor every action of theirs.

If you have kids, or are a teenage driver, how do you feel about this issue? Are over concerned parents just that...over concerned? Or are we at the point where rebellious teen drivers feel hassled just at the thought of having to send out a reminder text or phone call as to their whereabouts (thus justifying the possible purchase of a GPS tracking device?)

No comments:

Post a Comment