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Parents use 'digital' grounding as a 21st century disciplinary tool

They talked, and her view was: "You're not entitled to Facebook, you're not entitled to a cellphone. You need to find a way to make these things fit into your life - not become your life."

Carley changed her son's Facebook password, so he could not sign on to the site for his period of banishment.

Suddenly Ian, then a sophomore at Northwood High School, found himself out of the social loop. He began using e-mail more than he ever had. "I had to call people on the phone and stuff, which was weird because I wasn't used to doing it," he says.

Worse, the ban extended over last winter break, when social connections were even more important because school was out.

His mother did not relent. "I'm hardcore," she says.

Only after the teen's report card arrived, showing a 3.25 average for the quarter, did Carley return her son's cellphone and restore his Facebook privileges. "It was amazing how much better he did in school because he didn't have the distraction," she says.

Ian, now 16, acknowledges as much.

"I definitely did a lot better when that stuff was taken away," he says.

Now, he is more moderate in his Facebook and texting habits. "I don't want to have it happen to me again," he says.

Still, Carley says, her choice of discipline led to a few raised eyebrows among other parents. "Really?" she recalls being asked. "I said, 'It's not as hard as you think.' "

She amends: "Well, maybe for the first couple of days."

Expanding the toolbox

The way Chelsea Welsh, 17, sees the phenomenon, parents have not necessarily switched tactics for her generation, so much as expanded them.


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