Conventional wisdom suggests that when kids misbehave with something, you take it away from them as a form of punishment. That might just be the worst thing you can do in the modern technology age, however -- but not for the reasons you might think.
Teenager picture from Shutterstock
Dr Justin Coulson is a self-described "Parenting Author" who spoke yesterday at the launch of some McAfee-sponsored research into tweens, teens and technology in Sydney yesterday. The report itself has some interesting suggestions based on surveying 1,033 tweens and teens aged between 8-17.
The headline issue would appear to be cyberbullying, with a 56 per cent rise in reported cases from the same survey undertaken in 2013. On the good news front, if you have multiple kids in the tween/teen age brackets, the older ones are most likely to be mentoring the younger ones in what to do and not to do online. Which doesn't mean that they're not making large scale online mistakes themselves, mind you.
So it's not surprising that a parent's first reaction if they catch their child engaged in antisocial online behaviour -- bearing in mind that social pressure in the Internet age is stronger than ever -- would be to restrict their access to their iPads, smartphones and laptops. You can't get into trouble on Tinder if you can't access it, right?
Not so, according to Dr Coulson. He stated two key reasons why restricting technology access for tweens and teens is a bad idea.
For a start, it's socially isolating in an era where social connections are a form of teen currency. He likens it to telling your kids that they can play in the local park, but nowhere else, when all their friends are playing down at the shops or pool. You're either going to end up with a social outcast child, or one who simply sneaks behind your back to access online services anyway.
This brings up the second and larger problem. Removing technology access to teens and tweens "absolutely kills the conversation" you might have with your child about technology in the future.
Dr Coulson's argument here is that it's much more important to guide your children through the pitfalls of technology, and particularly social media, but the first time that you freak out and remove their gadgets is the very last time they'll ever trust you and talk to you about online social issues.
What do you think? Is restricting technology access a fair and reasonable parenting step, or a measure that will destroy trust between you and your offspring?