Dad who monitors daughter with a drone takes 'helicopter parenting' to new heights

You can't put a price on having peace-of-mind when your kid is out in public alone — unless you factor in the cost of a quadcopter.

Literal helicopter parent watches over his daughter with a drone while she walks to school

Chris Early of Knoxville, Tennessee used a drone to monitor his 8-year-old daughter during her first solo walk to school. (WVLT Local 8 )

Since the dawn of the "drone age," unmanned flying robots have been helping humans with everything from farm work to police work to the work of grabbing a beer on a hot day.

Not until this week, however, did evidence surface of a drone being used to help out with childcare.

Chris Early of Knoxville, Tennessee got the idea to use his quadcopter as a mobile nanny-cam (of sorts) a few weeks ago when his 8-year-old daughter Katie asked if she could walk to school by herself for the first time.

Drones like this one can stream live, high-definition aerial images to users as they're flown. (Reuters)

Early, who owns a video production company and had easy access to a camera-equipped UAV, obliged — but decided to keep an eye on her from the sky, just to be safe.

"It was a way to keep an eye on her make to sure she was looking both ways," Early told Knoxville's WVLT Local 8. "I let her know that dad is always watching."

"I could see other people looking up and I'm sure Katie was just like aw it's my dad," he said.

While Katie herself found the experience "cool" according to WVLT, some around the web have been criticizing Early's decision as "paranoid," "overprotective," and even "creepy." 

Footage from Early's drone video of his daughter Katie walking to school. (WVLT Local 8 )

Early took to his company's Facebook page to set the record straight as his story spread around the world.

"The drone flight following my daughter home from school was a one-time thing done in fun," he wrote. "It was never meant to set off a debate on how to parent in the 21st century."

The dedicated dad explained that, because he works from home, he had been walking his daughter to and from school for over two years when she asked to go it alone.

"I trust her enough to give her that little bit of independence as she continues to grow into a smart, beautiful young lady," he wrote. "I'm a tech/video guy. That's my passion and my profession. The drone was purchased as a hobby and eventually a production tool once it is approved by the FAA. It was never meant to be a parenting or surveillance tool, nor will it."

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.