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Parents punish kids by making them watch TV

Monica Beyer is a mom of four and has been writing professionally since 2000, when her first book, Baby Talk, was published. Her main area of interest is attachment parenting and all that goes with it, including breastfeeding, co-sleepin...

Parents force kids to watch TV in bizarre form of discipline

Parenting is a different ball game now than it was even 20 years ago, but for some reason, some parents feel that making their kids watch TV instead of play with their tablets is adequate "punishment."

In a recent study conducted by Miner & Co. Studio, 800 parents whose kids watch video content on devices other than televisions were asked about their family's screen time. The results weren't particularly surprising — in these households where a tablet was present, a majority of kids preferred those over traditional television. But at least one stat stood out that was a little unexpected.

Nearly one out of every two parents reported that if their child needs discipline, they take the tablets away — but let them watch TV instead. Watching TV is considered a punishment in these families.

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The other data isn't quite as shocking, though it does tell the tale of modern parenting. In 58 percent of these families, kids had their own tablet. Fifty-six percent of these parents report that it's not unusual for kids to be watching content on more than one device at the same time. And 41 percent of these parents say their kids would choose their tablet over dessert.

Yes, I'm sure watching TV is less fun for a kid who has a tablet at his disposal. Playing games and being able to watch favorite shows over and over on a handheld device is pretty amazing, especially when you consider that even when my 12-year-old was a young child, it would have sounded pretty science fiction-y. It's definitely better than watching regular TV programming, especially since kids can often easily operate the tablets themselves.

But is replacing one screen for another really adequate discipline for a child? Eh, probably not. Making a kid switch from one medium to another isn't really all that annoying for the kid, and really, it's a pretty lazy way to dole out discipline. It's as if you are really saying, "No, you can't play with your tablet, so plunk yourself down and watch this TV instead." And your kids know that if they misbehave, they'll still get to zone out in front of a screen.

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I've been parenting for a long time (my eldest will be 20 this November, and my fourth child is getting ready to enter kindergarten), and I'm not a young mom by any means, but I still find it hard to believe that people really let their kids get away with watching TV when they're supposedly being disciplined for something.

Kids will probably always prefer mobile screens — the study shares that kids like them because they can take them anywhere and it gives them a sense of independence — but letting a kid veg out in front of a TV instead of poking a tablet screen should not be considered a form of actual discipline.

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