School change: did Facebook create helicopter moms?

by Steve Wyckoff on September 17, 2010

While I normally talk about school change, I just finished the book, The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick and it prompted several thoughts. The idea of a “helicopter mom” being one of those thoughts. “Helicopter mom” is a relatively new idea. It describes the mom that hovers over her children with much greater knowledge and participation in their kids lives than ever before.

A friend of mine who is a professor at a major university has told me several times how mothers of his students actually call him. The first time he told me I was flabbergasted! I barely told my mom where I was going to college let alone give her enough information to call a professor.

But Facebook has changed all that. In it’s inception it was strictly for college students, but as it grew Facebook began to allow anybody to join. The phenomenon of helicopter moms was born. Mothers started demanding that their kids friend them. And since the penetration of Facebook among college students was so great it instantly made mothers aware or of their child’s inner most thoughts and activities at college.

But it’s just not a phenomenon for college students. Most high school kids have a Facebook account also and many parents allow them to have a Facebook account under the condition that they friend the parents. So as with the college students, parents of high school students are learning more about their students, what they think, and what they do, then ever before.

It created an interesting and new dynamic for educators. I think the jury is still out whether or not the effects are positive or negative, but I suspect that more transparency in the long term will be a very good thing. I’m not sure yet either if it will cause real school change or simply impact the current system. – Steve Wyckoff

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