Don’t ground them; anti-ground them

Posted on July 27, 2015

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Minecraft addicted

I swear if I have to take the computer or the Playstation remotes away one more time I’ll just get rid of both.

Well, I would, but I kind of like using them myself. I am running out of hiding places, though.

I’ve heard from so many parents that they have to take away screen time entirely for various amounts of time as a punishment for bad behavior. Personally, I have no other useful punishments; his favourite activity is inactivity so grounding my son is like sentencing him to his favourite pastime.

Unless I take away screen time, too, grounding him won’t keep him away from his friends anyway. Most of his friends these days have names like Psycho257. They’ve never actually met but their avatars have on some unknown person’s Minecraft server in Cyberville.

Maybe I should ground his avatar.

When I was a kid, my friends had names like Mike and Raji, not Psycho257. If we had nicknames it was because we earned them; we didn’t get to pick our own. Otherwise Thomas “Stinky” Pinkerton might have gone with something different.

I knew what my friends looked like, too. I could pick them out of a crowd. Today, my son wouldn’t know half of his friends if he were standing right next to them in an elevator. And he’s far more likely to know their IP address than their home address.

My friends and I went places together, stayed out all day riding bikes and doing what friends do. Given how many of my son’s friends live thousands of miles away, it’s not likely they’ll be going down to the creek anytime soon, spending all day talking about girls and racing sticks downstream.

The next time my son commits a punishable offense, maybe I should punish him with that: “That’s it, that’s the last straw. You must now make a friend, stay out all day riding your bike and talk about girls,” I’d say.

“Aw, Dad, anything but that,” he’d whine in return. He’d be anti-grounded.

Anti-grounding could be the teen punishment wave of the future. We could send them outside to play and say they can’t come back until they have a friend with them—a real human one—who’s going to stay for dinner. We could force them to walk down to the candy store with someone and have an actual conversation along the way. We’d give them some money to make sure they comply.

We’ll start a movement, a revolution for parents of teens with screen addiction. We won’t just take away their screens—we’ll anti-ground them.

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Posted in: Parenting