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Parents to kids: No Internet for you

More parents are limiting their kids' access to the Internet as a form of punishment, just as they've traditionally done with TV, new survey shows.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

Today's parents are trying another form of punishment for their misbehaving kids: no Internet.

A new report from the folks at the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future found that three in five American households restrict their kids' access to TV as punishment, a figure that's been virtually the same the past 10 years.

But in a sign of our digital age, restricting access to the Internet has become much more common, with 57 percent of the households surveyed employing that as a form of punishment for their kids under 18.

A majority (69 percent) of the parents surveyed think their kids spend about the right amount of time on the Internet. Only 28 percent felt their kids are online too much. That contrasts with the 57 percent who felt their kids spend about the right amount of time watching TV and the 41 percent who thought their children are in front of the TV too much.

But the survey also found that more parents believe their kids are spending time on the Internet at the expense of time spent in person with their friends. This complaint was voiced by 11 percent of the parents polled, compared with 7 percent who said the same thing in 2000 when the surveys first started.

Many parents also feel the Internet is interfering with quality family time. Those polled said that on average, family face time has dropped to just under 18 hours a week from around 26 hours per week during the first half of the decade.

Michael Gilbert, a senior fellow at the Annenberg Center, believes that online communities and social networks play a major role in the drop-off of family time. Gilbert cites other surveys conducted through the Center dating back to 2006 in which those polled said they valued their online communities as high as their real world ones.

The survey was conducted this past April among almost 2,000 Americans.