Mom: “Go to your room!”
Kid: “Yes, please!”
“Go to your room” was a phrase that used to instill in a child a sense of dread, upset and, most importantly, regret over their misbehavior. However, with the advent of cell phones, iPads, Game Boys, laptops, Kindles and other portable technological devices, going to your room can sound like a really fun idea for many kids.
These days, parents are now having a crisis of discipline, because the old consequences don’t always work anymore. Being grounded all weekend is no longer such a bad idea for many kids, who actually welcome this punishment because they can be moresocial at home on Facebook and chat, than if they go out with a few friends. As a result, time honored ways of grounding don’t actually discourage bad behavior, but rather encourage social isolation and screen obsession for some young people.
How can parents address this problem? I think we have to begin conversations about digital grounding.
What is Digital Grounding?
Digital Grounding is when parents take away access to electronic devices, either completely or partially, from their children. This can range from banning Facebook for a week to taking away a cell phone for social use.
How Can Parents Digitally Ground?
I am not a proponent of digital grounding, for which there is no one way to do, for all families. I think it can be useful when the “crime” has to do with technology. For example, if a teenager visits prohibited websites or sneaks online after hours, then taking away Internet access is a fitting consequence. The point of digital grounding is to teach kids to feel remorse about bad behavior, not to make them miserable.
What is Good About Digitally Grounding?
Typically “You’re grounded!” means a child has to stay home and not see friends socially for a few days or even weeks. As a result, parents can unknowingly push their kids to be more connected to their devices, which can make them more socially illiterate by devaluing in-person relationships. But digital grounding forces kids to build offline relationships while they take a break from their technology.
We have to think about how consequences for teenagers needs to change and how parents should make sure their disciplinary methods not only discourages kids to misbehave or break rules again, but also encourages general life behavior we support.
Vanessa Van Petten is the teen author of the parenting book “You’re Grounded!” She writes a parenting blog along with 12 other teen writers from the kid’s perspective to help parents understand what is actually going on in the mind of kid’s today. Her parenting tips have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Daily News, Fox 5 New York, CBS 4 Miami and much more. Visit her web site at RadicalParenting.com