No Electronics for You!

As a parent of a 15-year-old and a 12-year-old, I can attest to the validity of an article in The Washington Post yesterday about new punishment techniques.

Donna St. George’s article is headlined “A new-age twist on the age-old parenting technique of grounding.”  She talks about a range of punishments from no cell phone, to no Facebook, to no Xbox.  She cites a study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project that says 62% of parents have taken away their child’s cell phone as punishment.  Mrs. Spidey and I are part of the 62%.

In our household, we have an escalating scale of punishments related to electronics.  Typically, these are doled out due to lack of focus on schoolwork.  Sometimes, however, as St. George reveals in one anecdote in the article, we punish for “lapse in good judgment.”  The scale is roughly as follows:

The Ultimate Punishment

  • No computer for the rest of the day
  • No computer or television for the rest of the day
  • No electronics for the rest of the day
  • No electronics for an extended period
  • Changing the password log-in on the computer
  • Removal and hiding of the power cords to the computer, Xbox, television
  • Taking away the iPod and/or phone

Note the progression.  When banning isn’t enough, parents have to prevent children from accessing electronics, whether by changing passwords or taking the power cords.

The worst, however, is taking away a child’s music and telephone.  This means no texting, no walking around with headphones in, and no mobile Facebook.  In sum, this means social isolation, which is really the intent of grounding.

Unfortunately, taking away a child’s phone is also a punishment to the parents.  When children don’t have a phone, they can’t call to be picked up, and they generally can’t be found.

As the article describes, old-fashioned grounding just doesn’t work any more.  To make children feel the impact of their educational failures or “lapses in good judgment,” parents have to hit children where it hurts – smack in the middle of their electronics.


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