Do you take away internet, all ’screen time’ for punishments?

Parents are always searching for good ways to punish their children and for years have relied on taking away TV. But in the last decade, taking away the internet has become a powerful tool in a parent’s punishment arsenal!

From The Associated Press:

“No TV for a week, the time-honored punishment for misbehaving children, has been enhanced. Now, parents are also withholding Internet access to punish their kids, further sign that the Web has become as important to families as television.”

“As the two mediums converge, parents are quickly coming to see TV and the Internet in similar ways and are seeking to limit their kids’ access to both, according to a report out this week from researchers at the University of Southern California.”

“The survey from the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future found that two-thirds of parents say they restrict their kids’ access to TV as punishment, a number that has barely budged over the past 10 years. But the percentage of parents who limit Internet access as a form of punishment has nearly doubled in the last decade.”

“Among parents surveyed this spring, 57 percent said they withheld Web access to punish their kids. That is up from 32 percent in 2000.”

“Michael Gilbert, a senior fellow at the center, said parents are starting to not see a big distinction between TV watching and Internet use. Even so, parents are still more comfortable with the amount of time kids spend on the Internet — 71 percent said it was “just about right” compared with just 51 percent for TV.”

Our family is completely in line with this trend. Depending on the severity of the crime I can so “no TV,” or “no TV and Wii” or the big granddaddy of them all “No TV, no Wii and no computer!” We call that simply “No Screen time!” and boy do they freak out when that judgment is handed down.

The story also talks about parents’ concerns and comfort-level with their kids watching TV and being on the Internet. I’m not so worried about the time on screens (I don’t think they spend that much during the school year) but I do think taking that limited time away is very effective.

Do you use the all-encompassing “screen time” as a punishment? Do they respond to that more so than just TV or video games or computer individually? Do you worry about their total amount of time on the screens?

88 comments Add your comment


December 17th, 2010
4:14 pm

Wow…last I checked moral standards were intact back in 1946….I received whoopings as needed and am SURPRISINGLY a well-adjusted adult (go figure!). Note the sarcasm. I have a college degree, two well mannered children (they were well mannered as toddlers too!) all due to what? A swift tail cutting! Downfall of society is all to blame on lack-luster parents that let their children rule their homes! Stop being afraid of these kids and take your homes back. smh!


December 17th, 2010
4:25 pm

KBG, I agree, but everyone think that belts and whoopings are child abuse. Is it really surprising our people have no morals or standards?


December 17th, 2010
4:30 pm

@ Photius….glad to know I am loved LOL

I have been out and about and read the topic quickly BEFORE I left. This is kinda related:

TWG…get a ziploc and fill it with marshmallows…tuck in the following script:

“Is this what you want for Christmas?”

I remember eating brunch at the Wyndham in Phoenix one weekend after a meeting. A family came in with 3 kids that were running around like he** on wheels. Another family came in with a very well mannered 5 or 6 year old. I observed them eating and admired his behavior. After finishing, I walked over to the family with the well behaved child. I stopped and said,
“your son has wonderful manners…I am impressed with how nice he has been.”
The Dad replied, “oh we started that off young…after all, he will be 16 one day and want our car keys…he will need to know how to act.”


Yes mine had their TOOTY moments. Yes, they were sometimes spanked. Sorry if that offends anyone here. I did what I needed to with my own children. To me, spanking your child is not always the most intuitive or profound way to discipline and should certainly not be the first resort nor the **always** method. Sometimes, a swift pop is necessary. I mostly used other options but the main thing is that they know you mean business. If they can weasel you out of things when they are 4…you are in trouble IMHO.

I am with DB ( again) on this one:

I think it’s more a matter of consistency when they are young — my kids had no question in their mind that their actions had consequences and Mom and Dad wouldn’t hesitate to impose those consequences. Either that, or they got very clever at hiding the evidence . . . :-)

College Freshman

December 17th, 2010
4:32 pm

While I believe taking away ’screen time’ can be an effective punishment in many situations, I think spanking is still the most effective punishment for kids during their younger years. Looking back at my childhood, I never felt that my parents ‘abused’ me in any way. They spanked me when I disobeyed them or my school teachers. When I did something wrong, I never had to wonder “will they take my tv time AND computer time away?” or “Will they punish me for 3 days or a week?” They only question I asked myself was “How many spankings will I get for this?” Sometimes it just took a little shame, embarrassment, or pain to get me to understand what I did wrong. It taught me to respect my parents and those in authority to me whether I liked them or not. Now as I got older, my parents would punish me occasionally using ’screen time’ methods, and they really were effective. However, my parents never handed out those punishments without first having a talk with me about what I did wrong and how to correct it for the future. I understand that different methods work for different children this day and age, but I still thank my parents all the time for spanking me as a child.


December 17th, 2010
4:52 pm

Even a young adult agrees! Thanks College Freshman!


December 17th, 2010
5:06 pm

Yes you should pray for your children, but the Word of God also say’s this.

(King James Version)
Proverbs 13:24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him
chasteneth him betimes.
Proverbs 19:18 Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.
Proverbs 22:15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
Proverbs 29:15-18
15The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.
16When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increaseth: but the righteous shall see their fall.
17Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.
18Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.


December 17th, 2010
5:29 pm

My husband and I don’t believe in hitting our children. My mother was badly beaten by her parents and she struck us with thin whip like sticks but after a few years of being a parent I realised that that was something that I didn’t want to do and a road that I didn’t want to go down. I feel that if I have to go down the route of hitting one of my kids, then not only have I lost control of my kid, I have also lost control of myself. I feel the same way about yelling but I have found it is easier to stop hitting than to stop yelling and it is something that I am still working on.

My husband is sitting next to me and says that if he hit one of our children and then looked into their eyes and saw he hurt them. It would be the breaking of a trust of protection a parent has towards it’s child.


December 17th, 2010
5:31 pm

As an “old” (ie in years and experience) teacher and parent, I would advocate for parents to cut drastically down on their children’s use of TV,cell phone,internet, movies, and Nintendo, etc. I would posit that cutting down BEFORE would help with there not needing to be punitive action later.


December 17th, 2010
6:00 pm

@ Sandra…both my husband and I were whipped and had the bruises to show for it. We are 50 plus. Today, those scars would be cause for social services. You are also correct about yelling…some parents yell all the time and it may not be working.

I never whipped nor beat my children. A quick pop on the hand or behind, was sometimes the course of action, in an emergency situation…. i.e. they did something that could have been very dangerous like free themselves from Mommy and run through the parking lot at the store. This did not happen often but it did happen. Of course,there are other effective methods that *** when used consistently*** are effective too. Children need to experience cause and effect.

Too often,children do not respect their parents and realize that they mean business. Parents waffle and want to be friends with their children….IMHO that does not often work well when they are CHILDREN.


December 17th, 2010
8:08 pm

most of the spankings or hand popping (or even a couple of time whacking them upside the head) was done in a danger situation…running in the parking lot-about to touch something hot etc…my kids were riased in a very un-tech world so it was hard finding ways to punish..there wasnt many ‘things’ to take away. i would cancel all freinds coming over or them going somewhere. make them do extra chores-that was hard too because we lived in a very farm like world and there were many chores…not many extra ones…sometimes when an offense was something malicious or disrespectful i would find an appropriate bible verse and make them write it a bunch of times…(i still have these papers lol) or i would talk to them to make sure they understood what they did wrong and why i felt it was wrong even if they didnt and make them write an essay pertaining to the subject. im a big one for reading and writing and that always seemed to help…my kids were not perfect by any means, but they rarely did the same offense twice–they could always think of a new one lol…


December 17th, 2010
8:23 pm


Don’t feel like the lone ranger. I use corporal punishment as well. I haven’t spanked my daughter hard enough to hurt a fly in years though. I like how motherjanegoose expressed it, “a quick pop.” But I’ll expand further, a quick pop on the butt. It’s an attention getter. It tells her she is about to cross a line she doesn’t want to cross. She knows I will, but only if I have to, that’s enough. Of course that won’t be effective in a couple of years lol. Who knows, it still might. It may even be more effective, it will “offend” her dignity………….

I mean come on, all we want is for our children to THINK. We aren’t so much punishing them for bad behavior as getting them to realize what behavior is bad. If they continue to be “bad” then we need to take drastic measures. Taking away a child’s Christmas or punishing another person’s child by a last minute cancellation of a play date because they were tired or grumpy is just a crappy thing to do.


December 18th, 2010
12:15 am

@Mother of 4 -taking away Christmas? Sorry -that’s one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I try not to do things that will punish myself as well as my child!

Anyway -there’s a HUGE difference in popping your kid’s butt on occasion and beating the crap out of them with belts and sticks. I’m not a big spanking advocate, but I do pull it out as a “big” gun when I have to with my 4 year old. Consistency is KEY -whatever you’re doing. Make sure you do what you threaten them with and do not waver! Every kid is different, and what gets ones attention will not necessarily phase another. I’ve known a number of kids who didn’t care if they got spanked because it was over relatively fast and they could go on about their business, but taking away their favorite _________ sent them over the edge! Also -the punishment should fit the crime in some respects. I know parents who give 5 minute time outs to kids who spit in their faces, ruin items they are far too old to get a pass on, etc. Really -a 5 minute time out? Parents like that are ineffectual wimps. I’m shocked at how many people I know who “just don’t want to hear their kids cry.” GEEEEZ -when mine cries excessively over getting things taken away, he’s moved to his bedroom (where all fun items have been removed if he’s been bad), and I shut the door and go downstairs. The idea is not to just be mean to your kid in retaliation for something you didn’t like, but to make them think about consequences, so the next time something similar arises, they’ll think twice before doing it!


December 18th, 2010
4:51 am


I love my parents but punishment is the one area that I think my mom could have done better. Dad was usually working away from home and we didn’t see him very much while growning up. As I have four kids just like my mom, I understand the stress she was under. Not only was she raising us pretty much alone, she was also raising the animals and growing the fruit and veg we depended on to live. From an early age we were taught to pick out our own sticks to get whipped with. They couldn’t be too thick or they would break bones. They couldn’t be too weak or she would break them over you and send you out to find a different one. I remember having welts criss crossing the backs of my legs. Sometimes the skin would break and there would be thin lines of blood. I was mouthy so I got it the most. The thing is we weren’t bad kids. I even use to get in trouble for reading and many times my mom would throw my books in the woodburner. Even library books that I would have to pay for out of my part time job. My mom wanted to raise us better than she was raised and she did. I don’t know how on earth she survived her childhood. It was like something out of a horror story. On the other hand she has never raised a hand to any of her grandchildren and spoils them rotten. If they are not eating enough, she will jump up and cook them anything their little hearts desire. She listens, is patient and teaches them chess. I have the eldest grandchild on my side of the family and was shocked at how different she was with him. When he was born, I did tell her that she was not to raise a hand to him or she would never see us again but she never has to any of them. This is why I don’t believe in spanking a child and why I personally don’t with my children. I don’t even give them a little pop. It helps that my kids are usually very good. When people ask me how we do it, I tell them the kids were born good and they were. I tell the kids all of the time ….. protect those who can not protect themselves, help those who can not help themselves and defend those who can not defend themselves.


December 18th, 2010
8:06 am

@ Sandra…you have valid reasons for doing what you do and I cannot judge.

My sisters and I also have horror stories from our childhood…just not always the whippin’ kind. My sister, this week, told me that her church is doing a sermon series on what it means to be a family. She has left many times with tears in her eyes, as our growing up family memories are so painful.

We simply try to do what is best. If your kids are good, then you are blessed. I am not sure about kids being born good. To me, you have simply done a good job with them.

I love mine to pieces but they are not always good…neither am I :o Sometimes we all get self centered and cranky.

catlady once mentioned, when you work with lots of kids ( as we both have) you see a lot. To me there are too many kids who do not enter school “good” because somewhere along the line…the parents missed something on imparting behavior expectations, rules and attitude. Accomplished adults have goals and children need them too.

I marvel at teachers who can manage a class effectively, when the same parents cannot handle one or two of their own. I have seen it first hand and applaud the effort!


December 18th, 2010
9:01 am

I am not above spanking my kids. Thank goodness I haven’t had to do it too often, but it’s good to use it as the “big gun” sometimes. I got spankings as a child and I turned out to be a responsible, kind adult. (or so I’m told) However, most of the time some sort of restriction is all it takes. TV, computer, phone, keys…whatever works at the time. We still use it on my college age son who is still learning to find his way. I figure because I’m still paying the bills that HOPE doesn’t pay, I get to have a say so. Bad grades? No fraternity for the next semester. Spending too much money? I take the credit cards and give him an “allowance”. No part time job? Come home and commute. So far-so good. The thing is, we started young and he respects the fact that mom and dad have the last say until he is on his own, gainfully employed and supporting himself. Then he will have the self discipline that is required to not do anything stupid. Our younger son is 10 and rarely has to have things taken away as well. Are they perfect? Heavens no! But I think fair, firm and consistent as well as the threat of “mom and dad rule” has made them pretty darn close!

Normal Dad

December 18th, 2010
9:03 am

Really, REALLY funny to how defensive the “child beaters” get when confronted with their criminal behavior (and it is, regardless of what you call it – I’ve arrested well over 50 parents who quoted the same scripture to me as I was cuffing them). So, yeah, you do have victims and, yeah, my family will pray for them. Like most of the felons I have placed into custody – you have your excuses and SWEAR you have done nothing wrong. But, please, keep believing you are right. It gives me job security! Merry Christmas!


December 18th, 2010
9:22 am

When mine were little I popped a behind or two, or slapped a hand. I don’t think anyone was spanked after age 5; other things worked better. The little one was a terror until he was two, so he got his fair share…but overnight became an angel and hasn’t even been grounded. I got the kid lottery, I guess!


December 18th, 2010
11:38 am

You sound like one who abuses his badge normal dad. You have decided that the American system doesn’t work and YOU are the judge and jury. It saddens me when people like you, who forget their place in the scheme of things, have the “authority” to harass those who don’t share your ideals and beliefs. I wonder how many “arrest” reports you have had to embellish……….. probably quite a few.


December 18th, 2010
12:00 pm

Let me preface this statement by saying everything I got I deserved. I use to get the board of education on my rear end from the 2nd grade thru the 12th. When I got home I got more of the same. When I thought I was a man ( I was a punk 15 year old ) my Dad and I went at it. My father had a wicked right hook and he knocked me out cold. I swore I would never treat my kids the way I was punished, but they, my children, were good kids. Except for the swat on the hand to stay away from the stove or a pop on the butt to stay out of the road corporal punishment was never dealt to my children. There is not an answer that addresses all children in all circumstances. If you had a demon spawn like me when I was growing up you had to hit me just to get my attention. My father and I loved boxing we watch many a fight together, we both loved each other very much. He taught me how to fight and how to take a punch. I do not recommend anyone to strike a child. If my children were put in the ” thinking chair ” in the corner of their rooms that was all it ever took.


December 18th, 2010
12:09 pm

@newblogger….good points. I have one who has made it through undergrad and knew our rules. He lives away now. We pay his insurance and cell phone. He works and pays for all other expenses and Pharmacy School ( with loans) .

Our daughter knows our rules too. She had a friend from UGA over yesterday and we went to lunch. We were talking about their grades. She has told me hers and they were good. I told her friend, ” I never once saw her brother’s grades ( either on paper or on the computer) but he made it and we expect her to do it too. We trust our kids until they break that trust. So far, they have done a pretty good job.”

We have a neighbor whose son left for college without the HOPE scholarship. The parents said,
” he should get it back after his first year..”

WHAT? I have not heard of one student who did not have the HOPE while living at home but managed to get it back ( freshman year) at college…out of the house….has anyone here?

Let’s just say he has continued to fool around and not pass his classes but his parents are not seeing it.

Their issue, not mine.

I would have told mine, “You can live at home and go to college here. If you get the HOPE, you can go away to college next year.” But that is just me. Georgia Gwinnett Campus is 15 minutes from our house.


December 18th, 2010
2:21 pm

MJG, that’s pretty surprising that the boy didn’t get HOPE. I don’t know any kid PERIOD that went off to college without it–it seems very easy to get, much harder to keep–even in our area. And I don’t know anyone either of traditional age who went without it then gained it. I DO know some older students who got it after the 30 hour (or whatever) mark, but they graduated from HS LONG before HOPE was available.

Re your earlier post: Quite a few times I had parents come in the first day of school and say, “Here he is. I hope you can do something with him. I cannot.” And I am thinking, “if you can’t, and you have had 5 years, JUST WHAT do you think I can do?” I had mothers tell me, “She won’t let me….” and I said, “What? Who is the parent here? What do you mean “she won’t let you? She’s 5 years old for #%@ sake!” Had a dad of an 11 year old tell me he couldn’t make the kid take a bath. (The kid stank and was filthy) Seriously? Who, exactly, is in charge here? And this can be repeated endlessly, I am afraid. Seems to be getting worse, from school observation and casual observation in public. How many of us have seen kids be disrespectful to their parents in public lately?

On HOPE: My daughters used HOPE at their private colleges and never lost it. My son went to a private out of state school and never used it, though he qualified.

See you soon!


December 18th, 2010
7:57 pm


They all were awesome babies right from the start. I know that something is going right with the older boys because of what they do.

My eldest, who is now 14, and his friends were jumped at their school by a larger group of boys when they were 12. My son was picked on by a couple of these boys when he was younger because …. get this ….. he had an american accent. My son and his friends took off to get help but one of his friends was caught and kicked in the head. My son went back for him, even though he knew he wouldn’t be able to fight them off, and ended up getting stomped on by three or four other boys. The school was very good and solved the problem very quickly although I believe the mother of the boy who was kicked in the head called in the police. This last Friday he came to me and said, “I know what I want to do now mom.” I said “what” and he said that he wanted to “be able to prevent people from dying.”

My other son, 9, went to another boy’s house that had a small dog. That boy and another started throwing the dog onto the couch, scaring it. My son stood up to them and told them to stop or he would punch them.

All of my kids, that are in school, have a lot of friends and they know that they are required to ask kids at their school that look lonely to join them and their friends. My eldest now has at least one friend who only has him as a friend as others won’t take the time to get to know him.

We try and teach our kids through example which is why we apologise when we are in the wrong and why once my husband put himself between a drunk agressive man and his girlfriend. We don’t think a kid can’t just be told how to live but needs to also be shown how to live.

Normal Dad

December 19th, 2010
5:25 am

Sandra, congratulations. You and your family are exactly what is right with our country. Way to go.


December 19th, 2010
5:29 am


Most teenagers think they know everything. I personally don’t think they should get punched for it. In fact, there are a lot of aduts in the world that think they know everything and they are sadly mistaken. Now some people may want to punch them but being irritating, a bore, a know it all, or other similar is not against the law. Punching them would be.

I hope that I’m not coming across as a know it all :-) as I have plenty of faults. Like I said, my mother’s goal was to be a better parent than her parents. Mine is to be better than my parents and I hope my kids will be better than me.


December 19th, 2010
6:55 am

My mother raised 3 sons on her own, so she didn’t have a lot of time for foolishness. The spankings (whippings, or whatever you call them) were the most effective attention-grabbers we had as boys. Not to mention the tough “speeches” that ensued. That was in addition to privileges being taken away. She also had us cleaning gutters, scrubbing toilets, heavy lifting, doing yard/house work for neighbors (with no pay), etc as punishments. Plus movement would be restricted to home and church; social activities were eliminated, no birthday presents, no TV, music was taken away, etc. until she lifted the punishments. It was effective because at least the extreme punishments didn’t have to be handed out often. As long as we lived by the standards she set, you were okay, but step out of line and all heck would break loose. As a result, there were no problems out of us at school, in the stores, etc. Nobody died and we all turned out great (3 college grads, a pilot, engineer, army/air force officers). I don’t have kids, but I’m assuming that tough discipline like that these days would be considered abusive with DFACS having something to say about it.


December 19th, 2010
8:02 am

WHen our children were teenagers we would take away cell phones, computer and TV. We called it “Going Amish”

Dad of 4

December 19th, 2010
10:08 am

My kids use the internet to do their homework, check their grades, and communicate with their teachers. Taking away internet time would have a negative effect on their grades.


December 19th, 2010
10:28 am

Dad, don’t be fooled. How do you think the kids manage who don’t have computers, internet, etc? Are they doomed to failure?


December 19th, 2010
4:17 pm

I love the “Going Amish” phrase. That is also the term we use for it. In addition to taking away all electronic forms of communication and entertainment, I get to answer all texts and calls with ” This is Patrick’s mom. He is not allowed to use the phone right now. Don’t contact him again until he calls you. If you MUST call him, try the land line.”


December 19th, 2010
6:55 pm

@ jan….ROFL

Even adults sometimes have to be embarrassed into complying with the rules.


December 19th, 2010
7:04 pm

Love the “going Amish phrase.” I might have to replace “technology blackout” with it. I hope someone is naughty so I can try it!


December 19th, 2010
8:19 pm

We do TEB—-Total Electronic Blackout. If it uses electricity, he can’t have it.


December 20th, 2010
12:00 am

@Jan -that’s AWESOME! I’ll remember that one in a few years!

@catlady -I finally picked my jaw up off the floor after reading a post to a different mom blog yesterday. The mother wanted to know what to do with her 5 year old, who hasn’t been to kindergarten since November, because she “didn’t want to go” and she refused to get dressed for it. WHAT?!?!?! She’s freaking FIVE YEARS OLD -and this adult woman -her mother didn’t feel like she had the “authority” to force her daughter to dress and attend school. Can you imagine what that household will be like in about 7 years?


December 20th, 2010
7:48 am

@JATL…yes these kids are out there and catlady and myself have seen variations over the past several years. Scary stuff.

Once, a teacher told me of a child who had just entered Kindergarten in NOVEMBER. The parents
*** didn’t get around to bringing her*** until then. Think she missed much?

Can we say COMMON SENSE?


December 20th, 2010
7:59 am

JATL, unfortunately I can imagine. I see quite a few kids who are the “victims” of no leadership at home. From an early age, they were not expected to “grant authority” (I love that phrase) to anybody. If mom said no, the kid would test and test until mom capitulated.

The problem is, we live in a world where we have to grant authority to others all the time. Even Bill Gates has to drive the speed limit or pay the fine and risk loss of his license! So what kind of world is this child going to be prepared for?

One little girl refused to wear anything in her (beautiful,long curly) hair. It was in her face all the time. Her mother said her daughter “wouldn’t let her” put barretts in her hair! I was astonished–the girl was 5. The same mother told me her daughter ‘wouldn’t ride” the school bus home. I told her to tell the girl she wasn’t picking her up, and that I would put her on the bus. It wasn’t that the bus riding or the hair was that important, but that the mom had no authority, no leadership over her 5 year old. I can tell you she led her mom on a merry chase until she got pregnant at 15. She was out of the house for a year or two,and then came back when her boyfriend put her out, angry that he wouldn’t cater to her wishes.

I see 4 kinds of parents: the sensible ones (few and far between), the helicopters (few on that here, too), the absent (everything else,including dating,takes precedence over their child–lots of those), and the non-parent (as above.).


December 20th, 2010
12:09 pm

PHYSICAL LABOR!!!!!! I made my daughter rake the entire back yard of leaves, bag them up and take them to the curb. This was punishment for sneaking out at 2:00 in the morning. She NEVER snuck out again.


December 20th, 2010
12:21 pm

Using media for disipline works, but what about the amount of time our children are comsumed over them. We found a simple solution that works great called the Mikko Que. You can set up an allowed amount of time within a time range for TV, video games and the Internet. It has taught our chidren time management skills. It also helps to curb arguements about how much time they spend using them and gives us more family time to talk with them.

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