Get Started

Best Parental Control Solution for Your Family Devices

Start Free Trial

Lawnmower – The New Parent In The Digital Block

LAKSHMI on July 31, 2017

My 13 year old kid has been chosen at school to be a delegate at the Model United Nations held among a few schools in the neighborhood this week. She will represent Sri Lanka, and be part of a committee involved in networking for the Paris Climate Agreement Provisions. Having been informed of this event and the topic, I, being the data-sourcing expert in another avatar, scoured the internet and found useful and relevant sites from which my kid could frame her speech for the event. I sent the links to my kid, who responded with “I will do it myself, I am the delegate, not you”. While it felt like a wet towel just landed on my face, a social media forward by my colleague on the same day about “Lawnmower parenting” twisted the towel enough to sting. I thought I was a helicopter parent, but turns out I am a lawnmower parent now.

A lawnmower parent, also sometimes referred to as the snowplow parent, bulldozer parent and curling parent, I gather, is one who walks ahead of her/his children, removing obstacles from the path so that the kids don’t falter, fall or fail. Has lawnmower parenting always existed, or is it a fallout of networking opportunities and hyper information access of the digital era? It does seem likely that the availability of tools that tether the child to the parent 24x7 has resulted in the overindulgence of parents in their children’s lives.

A teacher in my daughter’s school complains that ever since the parent-teacher interaction went online, rather than face-to-face, there has been a multilevel increase in parental nagging about homework, exams, grades, and class activities. The dynamics of the teacher-student interaction is being increasingly altered by parental involvement, which, according to the teacher, cannot bode well for the child’s development and growth. A cursory web search shows that my child’s teacher is not the only one with this complaint. Summer camp organizers who insist on gadget-free camps for children are appalled at parents helping children circumvent the digital ban by sneaking communication devices to them. It seems that parents have more trouble “letting go” of their children, than children have of digital tools!

This is ironic, considering that studies have shown that family time has dropped dramatically by more than a third since the onset of the digital revolution despite staying relatively consistent for decades prior to this. The digital age has at least partially replaced personal contact with digital information. When I was a teenager, my parents knew the names of my best friends, but not everyone in my class. I, on the other hand, despite not spending enough time with my child, not only know the names of all 28 children in her class, but also their social backgrounds – thanks to social networking, which has all parents (and some step parents and grandparents as well) of all 28 children on board. This suddenly feels like stalking to me. Despite the discomfort at this realization, I cannot bring myself to exit the group for fear of missing out. Missing out what? I would miss out on the knowledge of the obstacles that may exist in my child’s path to success, which I need to remove before the kid arrives.

A possible reason for helicopter and lawnmower parenting is the unrealistic expectations of parenting itself. This is exacerbated by the Instagram-happy, Pinterest-perfect culture. Indeed, a study of 2,000 parents examining their top 20 worries lists “being seen as a cool mom or dad” as the seventh most important worry of digital-age-parenting; and showing the family as a picture perfect one on social media as the 20th. What is forgotten is that picture perfect is not only impossible in real life parenting but also subjective and affected by social, cultural and economic environments. The availability of too much information online is also a cause for hyperparenting.

Lawnmower parenting is detrimental to the overall growth of the child. Being shielded from failure leads to delusional outlook towards life, and fear of failure, which, as the adage goes, is but a stepping stone to achievement. Other essential life skills that take a beating by lawnmower parenting include communication, leadership, decision making, problem solving, personal motivation, primary recognition and self-esteem. Lawnmower parenting also leads to the obsessive parental need to keep the child occupied at all times in result-oriented endeavors.

While the above effects of helicopter and lawnmower parenting are qualitative, a more serious quantifiable effect is the psychological effects on children. It has been shown that while helicopter parenting increases the risk of student depression and anxiety, lawnmower parenting is likely to lead to traits of narcissism and entitlement.

Theories of family enmeshment, effective parenting, and personality development have shown that hyperparenting behavior is associated with negative traits in parents as well. Being an over-involved parent is a drain on energy and time, and in extreme cases, can result in the very existence of the parent revolving around the child’s life. The constant pressure of vigil and preemptive activities can in fact border on obsession and lead to anxiety among parents. Quantitative analysis has shown that parental anxiety, in turn is positively associated with overparenting, and that parental regret had an indirect effect on overparenting through greater anxiety. This becomes a vicious cycle with one feeding on the other. Competitive parenting (both helicopter and lawnmower) can also adversely affect the relationship of the parent with other parents, who are often viewed as competitors and rivals.

There is no such thing as “just right” parenting that falls in the geometric middle of insufficient parenting and hyper parenting. The balance is highly subjective, and depends on all parties involved. The concept of good enough parenting was proposed more than half a century ago by paediatrician and psychoanalyst Donald Woods Winnicott continues to be valid in the digital age. Such parents who were loving and provided a stimulating environment – but also set boundaries and didn’t stress about doing enough – would raise children with best outcomes. 


Writing credit: Authored by Lakshmi, a Mobicip researcher and parent with a keen interest on the impact of technology on parenting.
Keep in touch with the latest on parenting, technology and education. Subscribe to the Mobicip newsletter. Learn more at

Recent Blogs

What’s Up With WhatsApp? - Security Woes & More

NOTE: BEFORE READING THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE UPDATE WHATSAPP. WE’LL WAIT!Given WhatsApp’s much vaunted end-to-end encryption one might assume that it’s a reasonably safe platform to share private information on. Other than choosing the recipient of the communication carefully, it has always appeared th

Using Digital On-Ramps

Just a few weeks ago the World Health Organization announced that infants under 1 year old should not be exposed to electronic screens at all. They also say that children between the ages of 2 and 4 should not have more than one hour of “sedentary screen time” each day. In a world full of screens, a

Looking for the Perfect Thing to do this Mother’s Day? Fast from Technology!

The quintessential mother is expected to be grateful for any gift she receives from her children on Mother’s Day, and not hope for anything more. But Boss Moms know better! We’re not talking about material expectations here. We’re talking about the family being together in one place, both physically

Getting The Message Across: 21 Videos to Help You Discuss Bullying with Your Children

We believe that there are two components that determine how effectively a message is delivered. One - the relevance of the message itself. Two - the medium of communication used to get the message across. Anti-bullying has taken center stage across the world in the past few years, with a significant

Fight Fake News!

Did you know that the average life of a fake news site is 250 days? With enough traction, that fake news potentially has enough time to collapse economies and reduce a person’s hard-built reputation to shambles. In 2019, fake news is dominating our social media feeds and even our newspapers and tele