Good Digital Parenting
Blog | Oct. 26, 2012

Discuss: Is Virtual Discipline a Good Approach?

Project Administrator, Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI)

The Internet lit up this week over a Wisconsin mom and dad who used their daughter's cellphone to post embarrassing pictures of themselves on her Facebook wall. Their playful photos were a form of punishment for their kid’s misbehavior, but went viral when they were uploaded to Reddit. 

This story, while much less severe, mimics a string of news headlines about parents using social media to discipline their children. Remember Tommy Jordan? In February he started a national parenting debate after video-taping himself shooting his daughter’s laptop because of comments she made online. What about Denise Abbott? She made the news after changing her teenagers Facebook profile photo to say: “I do not know how to keep my [mouth shut]. I am no longer allowed on Facebook or my phone. Please ask why." 

Though the spirit of this recent parental photo-posting payback is much lighter than the stories just mentioned, it still poses an important question – is this type of virtual discipline okay? 

We want you to weigh in! 

What do you think of online punishment? What kind of teachable moments are created or missed when parents use this strategy?