You Are Digitally Grounded, Mister!

Remember the good ol’ days when all parents did to punish us was yell “Go to your room!”?

Ah, sweet memories.

See, now that more and more young people are using the internet for God knows what, parents now have another avenue of punishment: a complete tech blackout.

Take this charming story from yesterday’s Washington Post:

Iantha Carley’s high-schooler got a midterm grade report that contained letters of the alphabet that were not A, B or C.

Carley decreed there would be no more Facebook until he delivered a report card with better grades. The result: six weeks offline. “He lived,” Carley reports, “with no lasting damage.”

Yes, this poor boy was forbidden from going on Facebook at home for six weeks. I do, however, see an ever-so-small flaw in this plan: you can access your Facebook account elsewhere. Let’s be realistic here. Does anyone honestly believe this kid was just going to stop using his Facebook account because his mom said so? Something tells me during those six weeks he was spending an awful lot of time out of the house, perhaps at friends’ houses or the library.

That’s the ultimate problem with “digital grounding” nowadays. Back in the days when parents made you stay in your room, there were clear limits. You could do anything, so long as you’re inside. Digital grounding works in the opposite way, where you can do anything so long as you’re outside.

Some parents opt to hide their kids’ video game systems (Hi, mom!), but all you need do is go to a friend’s house.

Confiscating cellphones is the least effective of these tactics, because as is painfully clear to Generation Y, cell phones are just one of many different ways we communicate with each other. If this was the 90s, taking away our cell phones might be a scary concept. How else will we let our group partners know that we finished that diorama for social studies?

Because most parents aren’t that tech-savvy, most likely they wouldn’t bother confiscating our iPods, because they think it’s just a way for us to listen to music. What they don’t realize is that those damn rebels at Apple have given people an opportunity to communicate, even video chat, with our friends on our iPod Touches.

Parents, maybe just go back to keeping us in our rooms. It limits us more. (And by us, I mean kids. Not college students who have outgrown home life. Hi, mom!)

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