Privacy & Security

Taking Away the Other Kind of Keys

By Ian Quillen — September 07, 2010 1 min read
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(Disclaimer: So I admit even this headline has a little bit of an age bias to it. While we adults might think of being grounded from the Internet as a ban from laptops and desktops, kids might be more ticked off about the inability to log on from their touch-screen iPhones. So really, the whole “keys” pun kind of goes down the drain. But bear with me).

A recent Washington Post story explores the relationship between parents, children, technology, and discipline, noting more parents than ever are revoking cyber privileges as a form of punishment also known as digital grounding. In contrast, their own parents might have locked the Oldsmobile in the garage. (Or am I guilty of projecting everyone’s father in the 1970s as Red Foreman?)

Anyway, the story notes how more parents are wising up to the reality that the computer or smartphone is their child’s most prized social tool, thus making revocation an effective measure. Reporter Donna St. George, who weaves vignettes of family examples with context about teens’ social reality, also noted that some experts warn revoking such privileges should only be done when it relates to the offense—such as misusing a device during school hours or accessing improper websites at home. And for the record, this isn’t an entirely new process—I can remember being grounded exclusively from the computer and video games during my childhood.

But my question would be how parents’ own technology use affects these decisions. St. George indicates parents understand the social importance students place on their cyber connectivity. But are parents with their own Facebook page or Twitter account more or less likely to use this form of punnishment? And as their tech savvy increases, would they be more or less willing to strip their children of a device whose benefits they are truly beginning to grasp?

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.