Thursday, October 31, 2013

Grounding Kids from Electronics

Today is Thursday, October 31, 2013.

These days, keeping a child inside the house or in his or her room a a form of disciplinary action is not enough.  Even taking away the car keys isn't quite as effective as it used to be.  The reason?  The kids have all sorts of electronic toys to play with.  Even if they don't have a TV or radio in their room, they probably have an iPod or other digital music player, a mobile phone or smart phone, an iPad or other tablet device, an e-reader, or some type of gaming device.  That's in addition to their computer.  Basically, they can chat with friends 24/7, even if they are grounded.

Master Power Lock
The other day I saw an interesting photo of an electric plug – the two-pronged kind with  little holes in the ends of the prongs.  Through one of the holes someone had threaded a little padlock.  The caption said this is how parents have to ground teenagers.  I thought that it might be a tad hard to find a padlock small enough to fit into the hole in the prongs, but I wondered if there was something out there that parents could use. It turns out that there is.  The whole concept is called "e-grounding."

Electrical Plug Lockout from
Power Plug Lock from
The picture also reminded me of a time that my brother had to put a lock on the his home phone because one of his daughters was prone to making very long distance phone calls.  (She had lived with me for a while just previous to moving back to her dad's home, and racked up a $450 phone bill on my account, which I required her to pay, eventually.  That was part of why she moved out, I think, but that's another story.) 

Heavy-duty Plug Lockout from

This one's much more expensive.
Some electronic devices, such as cell phones, are best just confiscated and kept turned off and in a locked cabinet.  You can put plug locks on other items.  Many of these are fairly inexpensive little gadgets, running around $11-16.  Others may be a bit more expensive.  The trick is knowing how many you will need and having them in advance.  Just in case.  The other trick is knowing your child well enough to figure out which of his electronic toys he or she cares the most about.  Is it his Xbox?  Is it her iPhone?  Whatever it is, that's the one to take away first.  

Some parents only let their kids use a wireless connection inside the house, which they can control from their own computer.  When they want to cut off their kids' Internet connection, they do it from their own computer, so unless a kid has an internet hookup in his room and an ethernet cord stashed away in his closet, he can't get on the Internet.  Some parents have their kids' computers connected to a digital timer.  They set a curfew time at which the child's computer turns off automatically.  These same parents are savvy enough to limit which Internet sites they don't want their kids to visit, and they know how to add sites to the "block" list. 

Parents can get parental control apps (software) that will allow them to remotely lock their kids' phones and tablet devices, and keep tabs on or filter their calls, texts, and photo messages.  If this sounds a bit like mom reading her daughter's diary, or a dad looking for copies of Playboy under his son's mattress, well, yeah.  It is.  

It would be best if parents could cultivate an open relationship with their kids such that they don't need to be snoopy, but that doesn't always happen.  And kids test the limits, no question.  They always have.  Taking control of your kids' use of electronics and occasionally restricting their use of these things is an inescapable part of modern parenting.  :-/

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