Grounding is an age-old punishment that parents have been turning to for as long as we can remember. We all have memories of ourselves sitting in our rooms alone, after mom or dad scolded us, or sitting in the corner during recess after a tiff with a teacher. Grounding is not new, but digital grounding offers a new perspective to an old problem.
What is Digital Grounding?
Digital grounding is when parents or caregivers limit or completely take away access to technology from children. Generally, digital grounding is for a specified amount of time and includes television, smartphone use, Internet use, gaming, and other technologies. According to a study conducted by Pew Research, 65% of parents have digitally grounded their teen by taking away their teen’s cellphone or internet access as punishment.
Because children are so entwined with their technologies, digital grounding may seem like a logical step for parents. Take away a child’s most cherished item and they will quickly learn from their behavior. But the idea of digital grounding isn’t as clear-cut as that. Instead, it may be a lose-lose situation for parents and kids, alike.
Digital Grounding is Punishment, Not Discipline
For most parents, the goal of grounding isn’t to make their children unhappy or sad. It is to teach a lesson in the hopes that they won’t engage in whatever behavior got them in trouble in the first place. Unfortunately, though, digital grounding is often just punishment, not discipline. But what is the difference between the two?
Many parenting resources differentiate punishment and discipline as this: punishment makes a child suffer or feel pain for their behavior, and discipline seeks to correct bad behavior and teach good habits. For example, if a child stays out past curfew, a punishment would be hitting or yelling at them. Discipline would be not letting them go out the next weekend because they failed to follow rules.
Unless it is directly associated with the behavior, digital grounding is usually a punishment instead of a disciplinary activity. Parents may be tempted to take away their children’s technology because they enjoy it, not because it directly relates to the infraction.
It Doesn’t Change the Behavior
We’ve all been there — we’ve caught our child doing something wrong and in the heat of the moment laid out a strict punishment. We may have been feeling hot-headed, embarrassed, or dismayed. Often, though, these punishments don’t align with the bad behavior.
At Forcefield, we often speak about digital mentorship rather than censorship. While digitally grounding may solve the problem temporarily, it won’t provide children with the guidance they need to act appropriately in the future. Instead of grounding, show your child what they did wrong and give them the chance to act differently. This way, they will learn from their mistakes in a practical manner and figure out ways to be safe and smart with technology.
It Doesn’t Focus on the End Goal
There’s no denying it: technology is here for the long-haul. This is why some parenting experts don’t recommend digitally grounding your children. It doesn’t focus on the end goal of safe behavior. Rather than taking away their technology, they recommend teaching them good habits as soon as possible.
According to The New York Times, children spend about 10 hours and 45 minutes online a day. This number is only increasing, which makes it even more important to teach children good tech habits rather than punish them with limited usage. By digitally grounding them, you are putting a bandage over the wound, rather than treating it.
Now, when we say that digital grounding is a lose-lose situation, we’re not saying that disciplining your children in general is a lose-lose situation. Discipline is a great way to teach children lessons, when used appropriately. There are plenty of alternatives to digitally grounding, such as:
- Sitting down with your child and teaching them different ways to approach the behavior
- Only grounding them from the applicable technology
- Implement technology that limits their behavior, such as app-blockers or time restrictions
At Forcefield, we offer parents and caregivers multiple options to oversee their child’s technology behavior. These strategic limitations are better than completely grounding your child because it helps them learn from the behavior and gives parents more peace of mind.
Our wireless solutions include an App Sleeper, an Activity Report, and a Photo Report. These tools allow your child to learn how to use their smartphones safely and intelligently, but still keeps the control in the parents’ hands.