Study shows the detrimental long-term effects of helicopter parenting

Let kids be kids. Watching over your children's every move is a bad idea, and the long-term effects of helicopter parenting are far worse than thought.

"Helicopter parenting"—or, the practice of hovering over your kids and watching everything they do, constantly worrying about whether they'll make a slight misstep in life—is everywhere. I'm writing this at a coffee shop and if I so much as raise my head I can see an easy half-dozen examples of parents perhaps too invested in every move their child makes. 


On one hand: sure, yeah, parenting involves keeping your child out of trouble. For every"Quentin, don't try to use the espresso machine, that's the barista's job" (actual quote by actual parent said in this actual coffee shop) there's some real parenting advice like, "maybe don't play directly in traffic" and "don't get in a stranger's car." On the other hand: parents are overdoing it. 

A new study released by the American Psychology Association, available here, proves that if you make it so your child never makes a mistake, this will not adequately prepare them for the outside world. The study followed 422 children of different racial and socio-economic backgrounds over eight years with assessments at ages 2, 5, and 10. Data were collected in a variety of ways: from the children themselves at age 10, through clinical observation, and through teacher reports. At all times—especially during the clinical observations—participants were asked to play with their children the same way they would at home. 

The researchers found that being an over-controlling parent created a knock-on effect, wherein the younger a child was "helicoptered" (if you will) the more it impacted their development. From the APA press release

Overcontrolling parenting when a child was 2 was associated with poorer emotional and behavioral regulation at age 5, the researchers found. Conversely, the greater a child’s emotional regulation at age 5, the less likely he or she was to have emotional problems and the more likely he or she was to have better social skills and be more productive in school at age 10. Similarly, by age 10, children with better impulse control were less likely to experience emotional and social problems and were more likely to do better in school. 

The author of the study, Nicole B. Perry, PhD, of the University of Minnesota, had this to say:

“Our research showed that children with helicopter parents may be less able to deal with the challenging demands of growing up, especially with navigating the complex school environment. Children who cannot regulate their emotions and behavior effectively are more likely to act out in the classroom, to have a harder time making friends and to struggle in school.” 

And if you're wondering if helicopter parenting is a new thing: it isn't. The term originally appeared in 1969, in the book Between Parent & Teenager by Dr. Haim Ginott, but gained a lot of popularity in the early 2000s when colleges saw a dramatic increase in calls from (baby-boomer age) parents. In 2016, for the first time in 130 years, more young adults live with their parents than partners. And the U.S. isn't the only culture to have this: in China, the term "Little Emperor Syndrome" is used to describe how the children of helicopter parents act. 

Perhaps buoyed by a social-media culture where pretty much anyone can Google enough questionable information to justify whatever they want to believe, helicopter parenting isn't slowing down. 

Drill, Baby, Drill: What will we look for when we mine on Mars?

It's unlikely that there's anything on the planet that is worth the cost of shipping it back

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  • In the second season of National Geographic Channel's MARS (premiering tonight, 11/12/18,) privatized miners on the red planet clash with a colony of international scientists
  • Privatized mining on both Mars and the Moon is likely to occur in the next century
  • The cost of returning mined materials from Space to the Earth will probably be too high to create a self-sustaining industry, but the resources may have other uses at their origin points

Want to go to Mars? It will cost you. In 2016, SpaceX founder Elon Musk estimated that manned missions to the planet may cost approximately $10 billion per person. As with any expensive endeavor, it is inevitable that sufficient returns on investment will be needed in order to sustain human presence on Mars. So, what's underneath all that red dust?

Mining Technology reported in 2017 that "there are areas [on Mars], especially large igneous provinces, volcanoes and impact craters that hold significant potential for nickel, copper, iron, titanium, platinum group elements and more."

Were a SpaceX-like company to establish a commercial mining presence on the planet, digging up these materials will be sure to provoke a fraught debate over environmental preservation in space, Martian land rights, and the slew of microbial unknowns which Martian soil may bring.

In National Geographic Channel's genre-bending narrative-docuseries, MARS, (the second season premieres tonight, November 12th, 9 pm ET / 8 pm CT) this dynamic is explored as astronauts from an international scientific coalition go head-to-head with industrial miners looking to exploit the planet's resources.

Given the rate of consumption of minerals on Earth, there is plenty of reason to believe that there will be demand for such an operation.

"Almost all of the easily mined gold, silver, copper, tin, zinc, antimony, and phosphorus we can mine on Earth may be gone within one hundred years" writes Stephen Petranek, author of How We'll Live on Mars, which Nat Geo's MARS is based on. That grim scenario will require either a massive rethinking of how we consume metals on earth, or supplementation from another source.

Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, told Petranek that it's unlikely that even if all of Earth's metals were exhausted, it is unlikely that Martian materials could become an economically feasible supplement due to the high cost of fuel required to return the materials to Earth. "Anything transported with atoms would have to be incredibly valuable on a weight basis."

Actually, we've already done some of this kind of resource extraction. During NASA's Apollo missions to the Moon, astronauts used simple steel tools to collect about 842 pounds of moon rocks over six missions. Due to the high cost of those missions, the Moon rocks are now highly valuable on Earth.


Moon rock on display at US Space and Rocket Center, Huntsville, AL (Big Think/Matt Carlstrom)

In 1973, NASA valuated moon rocks at $50,800 per gram –– or over $300,000 today when adjusted for inflation. That figure doesn't reflect the value of the natural resources within the rock, but rather the cost of their extraction.

Assuming that Martian mining would be done with the purpose of bringing materials back to Earth, the cost of any materials mined from Mars would need to include both the cost of the extraction and the value of the materials themselves. Factoring in the price of fuel and the difficulties of returning a Martian lander to Earth, this figure may be entirely cost prohibitive.

What seems more likely, says Musk, is for the Martian resources to stay on the Red Planet to be used for construction and manufacturing within manned colonies, or to be used to support further mining missions of the mineral-rich asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

At the very least, mining on Mars has already produced great entertainment value on Earth: tune into Season 2 of MARS on National Geographic Channel.

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