December 17, 2010

Parents Withholding Internet Access As Discipline Measure

Parents are starting to withhold Internet access to punish their kids, which is a further sign that the Web has become as important to families as television.

According to a report out this week from researchers at the University of Southern California, parents are quickly coming to see TV and the Internet in similar ways and are seeking to limit their kids' access to both.

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, which is a number that has barely budged over the past 10 years.

However, the percentage of parents who limit Internet access as a form of punishment has nearly doubled in the last decade.

Fifty-seven percent of parents said they withheld Web access to punish their kids.  That is up from 32 percent from 2000.

Michael Gilbert, who works at the center, said parents are starting to see no distinction between watching TV and using the Internet. 

Earlier surveys by the center have shown that families are spending less time together than they used to, which is a decline that has coincided with the explosive growth of social networks in the past few years.

Parents are saying Internet access at home is also reducing the time their children spend with their friends face-to-face.  Gilbert called this a worrisome trend, but also said that the number of parents to report this was just 11 percent in 2010, compared to 7 percent in 2000.

The Internet and social networks also make it easier to communicate and they help families stay in touch with loved ones.

"The answer is never about technology. It's always about parental responsibility," Gilbert told The Associated Press. However, he added that the explosive growth of digital technology has made it increasingly difficult for parents to monitor what their kids are doing.

The survey was conducted in April on about 2,000 Americans over the age of 12.


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