Experts Say No To Spanking: Discipline in the Internet Age

27 Apr 2016
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According to a growing body of evidence, spanking is not a healthy way to discipline children. A recent study of 160,000 children over 50 years indicates that spanking can be linked to poor mental health. 

So, if the time honored Southern Switch (as in “Granny told me I had to go pick out my own switch for my spanking”) is no longer acceptable, what options do parents have for consequences when rules are disobeyed or general snottiness abounds?

The answer lies, as it does in many instances these days, in TECHNOLOGY.

The videogames, the YouTube, the Snapchat, the iphone – in short – the internet is the key to discipline in 2016.  Removal of the internet/technology  is the absolute worst thing you can do to most children and teens – indeed, most adults too!


Stone Age Methods

These are the methods that require no computer savvy on the part of the parent. The truth is that your child is probably the Technology Guru of your home, so stone age is the only method you can use without their help.  In truth, you could just tell the child that they are grounded, but there appears to be some additional acceptance when there is no way to access the technology. Makes it more real.

  • Put away the electronics - Put them in your drawer or lock them in your trunk.  Deny the access for however long the consequence is needed. This works great for small devices like iPods, phones, laptops and handheld games.   Remember where you put them as their value goes down when you find them years later under “V” in your office file cabinet (not that that has ever happened – well, maybe it has. Sorry).
  • Take the power cord to their gaming system or computer – this works well when there it is a non-universal cord (hard to replace)and the item is really too big and a pain to move.
  • Take the internet cord – the one that connects to the internet box. It looks like a phone cord and plugs into the internet box and that phone plug looking thing in the wall. The plus and downside is that it restricts internet for all members of the household. This is great for enforcing bedtimes. No one wants to be up without internet.   Sleep with it under your pillow if necessary. The internet will come back on when you plug it back in.


Technologically Advanced Methods

These require a bit of computer knowledge, but they have the added value of impacting only the household member who is currently grounded. Plus they can be done with your phone once you learn how to do it, so you don’t even have to get up.

  • Change the WiFi password  – This method has been popular around the internet for a while. One mom posted the list of chores that the children had to do to get the daily WiFi password. This is actually pretty easy to do once do it the first time. 
  • Ban Their IP From Your Router – This method can block specific devices from your home internet. This means that the rest of the family can use the internet, but the grounded child cannot from their devices. 
  • Make Their Internet Feel Like Dial Up - QoS.  This may be considered cruel and unusual punishment.  This can also be done to specific devices.  Here’s a guide.  Not gonna lie, it’s a little complicated.    (Note: This is also a good prank and it’s not messy like putting whipped cream in their hand and tickling their nose while they sleep.)


But my kids don’t LIKE the internet, what can I do?

Go ahead and sign them up for the local chapter of The Society for Creative Anachronism.  The Birmingham chapter can be found here

In the meantime, if they require discipline,  here are some old school consequences that don’t involve spanking or the internet.

  • Memorize a famous speech or passage - Child remains grounded until they can recite the chosen passage.   This method has bonus point for educational value.  For example, the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales in Old English. They will probably have to learn it in 11th grade anyway – get a head start.    The Gettysburg is also great.
  • Extra chores –  Otherwise known as "The Classic". The bonus for this is that Mom and Dad have LESS chores. Those things you have been meaning to do like pulling weeds, dusting the baseboards or scrubbing out the kitchen cabinets are perfect for Johnny to do while he contemplates his transgressions. Has the added bonus of teaching the children how to take care of their home.


Is your child ALWAYS grounded?

Realistically, if reasonable consequences are consistently failing to change a negative behavior, get a professional involved because there may be additional problems going on,  such as an undiagnosed mental health issue.

Here are some mental health resources for children in Birmingham:

NAMI of Birmingham The National Alliance of Mental Health Birmingham office

Vulcan Psychology Group 

Pitts and Associates

Bair, Peacock, McDonald and McMullan, P.C.



Note: The author has tested most of these methods except the QoS one because she just found out about it and it is hard. She currently sleeps with the internet cord under her pillow.  She has two boys. Her oldest is purportedly a low level member of Anonymous which means his computer skills far outstrip hers.

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