Drones are on the birthday and Christmas wish-lists of millions of children. Many will get their wish. But many parents will wonder whether or not to buy one. Few of them are familiar with drone technology, and understandably they hesitate to spend a lot of money on a strange device that looks like it could be dangerous.
Should You Buy A Drone for Your Child?
Twenty years ago, parents were agonizing about whether it was a bad thing to give children computer-related toys. Gameboys loaded with Super Mario games seemed like a dangerous and futuristic phenomenon. Now they seem simple and innocent. The world moves on, and yesterday’s moral panic is today’s quaint old-fashioned toy.
Drones may not take over the world the way that computers have, but the way they’ve steadily spread over recent years suggests that they’re not going away. They have a lot of potential for excitement, fun, and interest, and there’s no reason to veto them for your children, provided that you follow some sensible rules, and check that you’ve complied with any licensing requirements that apply.
As a general rule, a child should be at least 10 years old to enjoy a drone fully and safely, and for a child of that age, you should be looking at ‘toy drones’ rather than more powerful versions. Some manufacturers stipulate a minimum age of eight for their particular product, but you should be very sure that your eight-year-old is mature enough to operate a drone. It’s sensible to wait until they are at least ten before going ahead.
Toy drones are light-weight, pretty inexpensive, and can be flown indoors as well as outside. They are safer than full-size drones, not only because of their size but also because of their slower flying speed.
It’s a good idea to start playing with the new toy drone indoors, and if there isn’t enough clear space for that in your house, you should give consideration to how much flying time you are likely to actually get out of the new toy. It might be better, if space is restricted at home, to wait another couple of years until your child is better able to operate a drone outside. At that point, you might want to look into the best drone with a camera in your price range.
If you do buy a toy drone, make yourself familiar with its operation before you let your child try it. If there are younger children in the house, take special care around them. For babies and toddlers, it’s better to have them out of the way altogether when the drone’s being flown. Playing with the drone could be a good bonding activity between the older child and one of their parents while the other parent takes care of the baby.
If the toy drone turns out to be a success, the young teenager may want to upgrade to a larger, heavier and faster drone, maybe with a camera. At this point, ground rules have to be firmly and clearly laid down and you should investigate the legal position as well. Drones shouldn’t be flown near traffic or people and it’s definitely an activity for large outdoor spaces. Young teenagers shouldn’t be operating drones unsupervised.