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Banning Internet catching on as punishment

Posted: Sunday, August 31, 2003

Nine-year-old Megan Beatty promised to clean her room, but her mom checked and still ''couldn't see the floor.''

So Megan lost her Internet privileges for a day in July no gaming on Neopets, no chatting with a distant pen pal online.

''The room got clean first thing the next morning,'' Kelley Beatty recalled.

''It definitely works. If she's rebellious, sarcastic or mouthy or not listening, I would say no Neopets.''

Beatty, a nurse who lives in Ontario, Canada, is among a growing number of parents who have resorted to withholding the Internet as punishment for bad behavior, online and off.

In a UCLA survey of U.S. households with children, 37 percent reported last year that they have used the Internet as a punishment tool, up from 31 percent two years earlier.

''When I was a child, if I misbehaved, I would be sent to bed with no supper,'' said Mel Lampro of Sheffield, England. ''My children's punishment would likely be no Internet access for a week.''

Many parents do make exceptions for homework assignments, but not Lampro: ''There are these things called 'encyclopedias,' and they may have to use one of those.''

She'll let her kids, age 13 and 15, use the computer only for word processing but if they are really, really naughty, ''they have to use old-fashioned longhand writing.''

Mark Larsen of Chicago tries to withhold the Internet only for related behavior but that includes talking back after he complained that his younger daughter was spending too much time online.

Banning the Internet as punishment is much like parents of past generations withholding television, telephones and supper, said Steve Jones, a communications professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Parry Aftab, an expert on child online safety, said parents want ''something that will get them to say, 'Ouch,' what you know is most important to them at the moment.''

''There isn't a kid on the face of this earth (for whom) withdrawing computer privileges won't make them scream, 'Ouch,''' she said.



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