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Don Tapscott

Helicopter parents and Web 2.0 – a potent combination

In Grown Up Digital I discussed the phenomenon of “helicopter parents” — parents who are involved closely with all aspects of their grownup children’s lives., one of the world’s funniest web sites, has a great takeoff on a digitally savvy mom showing how she uses Facebook and Twitter to keep a close eye on her son at university. Watch the video here.

Wikipedia now tells us there are specialized kinds of helicopter parents:

Helicopter parent is a colloquial, early 21st-century term for a parent who pays extremely close attention to his or her child’s or children’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. These parents rush to prevent any harm or failure from befalling them and will not let them learn from their own mistakes, sometimes even contrary to the children’s wishes. They are so named because, like helicopters, they hover closely overhead, rarely out of reach, whether their children need them or not. In Scandinavia, this phenomenon is known as curling parenthood and describes parents who attempt to sweep all obstacles out of the paths of their children.

An extension of the term, “Black Hawk parents,” has been coined for those who cross the line from a mere excess of zeal to unethical behavior, such as writing their children’s college admission essays. (The reference is to the military helicopter of the same name.) Some college professors and administrators … are now referring to “Lawnmower parents” to describe mothers and fathers who attempt to smooth out and mow down all obstacles, to the extent that they may even attempt to interfere at their children’s workplaces, regarding salaries and promotions, after they have graduated from college and are supposedly living on their own.

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