Before you hit the “Proceed to Checkout” button, here are some tips parents should know before you buy a drone for your kids.
1. What will the neighbors think?
Unless you live on a farm or deep in the woods, chances are you have close neighbors. Before buying a UAV for your precocious youngster, think about what kind of boundaries you will set before the inaugural flight. It’s a good idea to set a flight schedule (no drone flying after 8 pm or before 8 am, for example).
If your neighbors are older and maybe don’t yet understand these new-fangled automatons, a brief heads-up would be a nice courtesy. Above all, make sure you understand how UAVs work – their specs and their limitations — lest your family’s drone use become the next item on the Homeowners Association’s agenda or even the target of your neighbor’s shotgun.
2. Know the law
Speaking of HOAs, it’s probably a great idea to make sure your community’s governing body is OK with drone use. Could drone flight violate your neighborhood’s covenants and restrictions? And while you’re thumbing through the legalities, check local and state laws. While most drone laws across the 50 states deal with government use, hunting and police searches, it’s always a good idea to monitor UAV news outlets (like DRONELIFE) regularly for updates.
For example, California recently toughened its privacy laws to restrict certain forms of drone photography. Again, you need to establish boundaries with your child with regards to when, where and how he or she may fly a new UAV. Be especially cautious with regards to ever-changing FAA regulations as the federal agency continues to tighten up rules for drone pilots.
3. A drone is NOT a toy
Although many beginner drones have toy-like qualities, models like DJI’s Phantoms or 3D Robotics’ IRIS+ should be considered anything but toys. Educating yourself and your child about UAVs (perhaps with an eBook) should be the first step before the drone leaves the box.
Controlling a UAV involves learning to think and talk like a pilot. Terms such as gyroscope, telemetry, accelerometer, pitch, roll and yaw will need to become a part of your lexicon. Fortunately, DRONELIFE has already made it easy with this handy Drone Definitions Guide.
4. Practice, Practice, Daniel-san
Did we already mention that drones ARE NOT TOYS? Ok, good. So it stands to reason drone flight takes time to master. As a parent this means a healthy dose of patience. It means taking your child to an unused sports field or park for practice (again, check local regulations). It means expecting a lot of crashes and missteps. Your child may be an ace at Call of Duty but flying a drone requires a much better understanding of environmental conditions and spatial relationships – no cheat codes. If possible, practice with the drone indoors before heading to the park. UAVs like the Parrot AR 2.0 are excellent for indoor flights and are recommended for beginners.
5. Keeping up with the Droneses
Unlike the latest Transformers playset, UAVs require regular maintenance. Drones are aircraft, flying in all kinds of weather and through all kinds of wind shears. Eventually, an accident will happen – a “mayday!” moment when your drone is going to kiss terra firma hard. Make sure your child understands that his or her drone will need new parts and that, yes, parts cost money. In other words, dear child, be prudent in flight — watch out for hazards and pay attention to your surroundings, especially if a hawk happens to be your neighbor.
Final Quiz: What are drones not? Answer: Toys. How do you know? With drones, batteries ARE included.