On paper, this scenario sounds ideal: you take away your kid’s phone, they have no distractions, they learn to talk directly to us, and they start to appreciate the actual connection. And (you think) you can now live peacefully because the problem has been settled. What if we told you that we would answer your question, “Is taking away a phone a good punishment?” with a firm no? Not because of some odd reasons, but it’s scientifically proven.
Listen, our kids are digital natives, and there is some tech-savvy stuff that your kids will have to explain. Taking away their phones means diminishing their primary means of communication. Thus, before you decide to restrict the usage or remove the phone, you better consider some points we listed below. Our points here are reasonable answers to the question, “is taking away a phone a good punishment?” which, in sum, is never a good idea.
1. Ruining the Trust
You were the ones who gave them phones—in some cases, the parents let the kids choose the phones themselves. Now you want them to return their phones to you? That does not make sense as it will confuse your kids more than obeying you. You should’ve set the limit first for your kids before granting them the phones of their choice and making a firm agreement with them.
Another way to breach trust other than asking your kids to give you their phones is by spying on or going through their phones. As parents, we must be aware of the line between disciplining our kids and crossing their boundaries.
2. Backfire on You
When you ask yourself, “Is taking away a phone a good punishment?” and decide to go on, have you ever thought that it can backfire on you? Yes, you may appreciate the more direct ways to communicate with your kids. Both parties may enjoy the actual connection for the time being. But you can’t contact your kids when you are parted.
It’s a whole different world now compared to when we were kids. We can play outside with our friends without being contacted through what we call cell phones today. As the ones who adapt to the newest technologies, we, too, depend on instant communication. Taking away your kid’s phone will make it harder to contact them.
3. Consider the Lost Tools
Do you think your kids need their phones only to be busy scrolling their social media accounts? No, they need other tools to keep them productive, such as calendars, online meeting platforms, maps, alarms, you name it.
During the first days of the phone takeover, you may start to see your kids adapt and catch up with their schedules. However, don’t be surprised when they are late to classes or events and come up with a cliché excuse saying that they don’t have their phone alarm with them.
4. No Access to Learning Materials
Enough with considering the other tools your kids need to survive a day. Now think about the reading and learning materials they need to finish the school projects, tasks, and homework. Their phones are the closest thing to getting access to a wealth of educational resources and knowledge that will help them complete tasks.
Thus, before taking further action on the question “Is taking away a phone a good punishment?”, always figure out whether your kids’ school relies on a learning management system. This system and its likes were made to facilitate your kids and the teachers in planning, preparing, and handling all the learning processes at academic institutions or schools. When your kids lose access to their phones, they will lose track of the learning materials and the system.
5. No More Entertainment
Some games come in handy nowadays. They teach your kids to set strategies, stimulate a healthy brain, and can be part of their entertainment if played in the right amount of time. If you take away their phones, you take away the mobile games that can distract them from unnecessary thoughts.
Even more sophisticated, some mobile games provide direct communication with gamers worldwide. At some point, this presents a good chance for your kids to expand their network and stay updated with the latest news around the world.
6. Consequences Should Match the Issue
When the question “Is taking away a phone a good punishment?” crosses your mind, you better double-check if it matches your kids’ behavioral issues. For your punishment to be effective, you must ensure it correlates with the rule that was broken. For instance, if your son or daughter constantly comes late, setting a more restricted curfew is better than taking away their phones.
We understand that you want your kids to learn the consequences of their actions. But the whole idea should make sense in the first place. Parents should limit their kids’ after-school activities if the kids keep missing the curfew so that they can learn clear consequences. Because, in this case, the phones have little to do with the missed curfew. If they come late and all you do is take away their phones, they’ll miss the point and not learn their lesson. Keep in mind that the punishment should match the broken rule.
7. They Are Smarter Than You Think
Do you think taking away your kids’ phones will resolve all their behavioral problems? Think again. They will find a way. We have a friend who, in her younger days, spent hours a day on screens. One day, his mom managed to take his phone away, but he did all right because I happened to have a spare phone, so I could borrow him one.
Look, this doesn’t mean your kids will always have other people’s phones once you grab theirs. The point is, they will find a way or strategy to compensate for the absence of their phones. For example, they can make excuses to go outside more frequently because they have difficulty contacting their friends. And if anything, they can simply use other electronic devices to replace phones.
8. What is Your Message?
When thinking about “is taking away a phone a good punishment?” try to consider the message you want to deliver. Do you want your kids to regard you as friends with definitive boundaries? Be their friends. And good friends, do not grab your phones. Instead, they communicate what you lack and always support you, no matter what.
Or do you want to be seen as your kids’ role model? Taking away their phones is unreasonable punishment a role model won’t do to discipline their kids. Instead, they practice wise phone usage so the devices won’t distract them from their priorities. Next time you want to take away your kids’ phones, always remind them of the message you want to instill.
9. Lost Communications
Imagine your kids are in school, and you are at the office not knowing what the kids are doing. You just keep guessing if your kids are just fine, and you can’t even arrange pick-ups. Once they’re home, they lose the ability to talk with friends—the ones who understand them besides you. Thus, they’ll end up feeling hopelessly trapped in solitary confinement.
10. Think About Alternatives
We are often asked, “is taking away a phone a good punishment?” and most of the time, we suggest parents find alternatives. Most parents think that taking away their kids’ phones is the go-to punishment. It’s easy to do and (seems to be) effective. And if the kids refuse to give up their phones, parents mostly will arbitrarily just grab the devices from the kids.
What if we say there are many alternatives to discipline your kids other than taking away their phones? First, if it’s a phone-related issue, you can limit their usage, such as by making no phone rules right before bedtime. Another alternative, apply the weekend-free phone to let them focus on real communication.
11. Your Kids Will Get Better at Lying
Research finds that Gen Z treats mobile phones like older generations perceive shopping malls. Phones are more than just communication tools. As tech natives themselves, phones are also part of their entertainment and a medium where they can be free from parental supervision. Admit it or not, phones and other supportive devices are among their essential needs.
When you take away their needs without apparent reason or consequences, your kids will tend to withdraw from you. They will end up feeling isolated from their world. But since it is their need, they will find ways to have it fulfilled, including lying to you. We are not saying that all kids are the same, but lying is one of the ways your kids protect themselves from punishment. The more frequently you take away your kids’ phones, the better they develop lying ideas.
12. Your Kids Can’t Learn How to Negotiate
If you wake up asking yourself, “is taking away a phone a good punishment?” press the pause button and give room to your kids to decide. Tell them you think of taking away their phones, but let them defend and negotiate what works for both parties, and you can decide from there.
Simply taking away their devices or arbitrarily grabbing them without giving them a chance to speak will make your kids feel unheard and insignificant. They should learn that their voices are well considered so that they can gain decision-making skills firsthand.
13. Redefine the Screen Time Rules
Sometimes the screen time rules are the issue parents care about. While information about screen time for younger kids is more definitive and available anywhere, screen time for teens can be tricky. Parents can feel less in control when their kids are at school or outside. Thus, your best bet is to control it where you can handle it. At home.
Instead of asking them to give up their phones to you, why don’t you just exercise screen time rules at home? For instance, your kids should take a two-hour break after doing their homework that requires the devices. Another option is setting up screen protectors and buying blue light-blocking glasses.
14. Phones Provide Safety
Related to point no. 3 above, we would like to highlight the safety aspect of your kids having their phones with them. There is always a reason why you set your phone number as one of your kids’ speed dials. Of course, they can just press specific keys to get them to connect to you in case of an emergency.
Thus, when you consider the question, “is taking away a phone a good punishment?” think about the safety reasons behind getting your kids a phone in the first place. How can they access the location features and contact you when they get lost if they don’t have their phones with them?
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In this digital era, everyone has their mobile phones and treats them as one of their essential needs. This means the absence of phones can make our lives quite harder. Your kids are no exception, especially since they are digital natives. They were born when communications and technologies started to hold significance in today’s world. Moreover, phones can perform communication and non-communication functions.
The fact that kids nowadays perceive phones as staples allows parents to threaten to take away their kids’ phones—something they can’t live without! From your perspective, this sounds like a perfect plan to get the kids to do something. However, the downsides of asking the kids to give up their phones to you outweigh the benefits. Try to walk in their shoes to make a better consideration or decision. Alternatively, you can always refer to our list above.
How long should you take away your child’s phone?
Less than 24 hours or until you and your kids reach an agreement. However, if the punishment has yet to happen, we highly recommend you find alternatives to discipline your kids. Because we take a solid no as the answer to “is taking away a phone a good punishment?”
Is taking away a phone negative punishment?
Yes. The downsides of this punishment outweigh the benefits. Remember that phones are your kids’ staple needs, and what is considered essential may evolve from time to time. When we were younger, we had to visit a library to see which books had the information we needed. Now, it only takes a single click, and you get to see various details you can choose to have. Your kids live in the now.
Why do parents take away phones as a punishment?
Because for parents, taking away their kids’ phones is the easiest way to get on their kids’ nerves. When parents consider the question, “is taking away a phone a good punishment?” they understand this punishment is the most frightening for the kids. Parents use this punishment mostly to get their kids to do something their parents want them to do.
What age should a kid get a phone?
You can get your kids a phone when they are anywhere from 10 to 14 years old. There is no right or wrong rule for getting your kids a phone because it is context-specific. Some kids need phones once they have their curfew, and some get them earlier because their parents are out of town. So, it depends not only on their age. It’s always better to communicate and negotiate earlier about the rules than give the kids phone-related punishment later.
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