Foster Parenting

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Taking Away Technology Tools as Punishment: Appropriate or Not?

I hear over and over again that the use of technology is a privilege. Colleagues that I respect and admire go back and forth about the appropriateness of taking technology away from students as a punishment for misbehavior.   I know that these words are spoken from a place of frustration.  It comes from, "I've tried everything else. I don't know what else to do."  It's an interesting concept to consider because I think we need to consider what we mean by privilege.

According to, the definition of privilege is a right or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most.

Yes, we are very privileged in our district that we have the technology resources that we do.  We benefit immensely from having an administration  that recognizes that our world is changing and we need to keep up. They are committed to providing the resources that will help our students be successful citizens in the future.  Teachers are provided professional development to keep up with what is available.

Is technology something that should only be "enjoyed" by a few who are fortunate?  I think we would all agree that the answer to that is, "No."  If we want our students to be productive citizens in the future, we need to equip them with the necessary skills to navigate our information rich society.

Is the use of technology a right that shouldn't be taken away?  When I think about how we use technology in our classroom, I have to believe that it is.  The use of technology is an integral part of our learning.  Our students are learning important strategies that help them navigate digital texts.  They study digital compositions as mentors and learn to make purposeful decisions as digital writers themselves. They are connecting with a global audience and learning how to be responsible digital citizens.  They are collaborating, creating, responding, and connecting all with the help of technology.  I would argue that the integration of technology is one more tool that our students have at their disposal when they are making decisions as readers and writers.  I would never consider taking away pencils and books as a punishment, so why would I consider taking away iPads and online websites that benefit my students?

I am sure that some may disagree with me.  I'd love to continue the conversation.  What are your thoughts about the use of technology being a privilege?  Is it appropriate for teachers to take away technology as punishment?

Please join other educators as they discuss how they are using technology in their classrooms.  Visit Reflections on the Teche to see other links to DigiLit Sunday.


  1. The thought that someone would take away the use of technology to punish a child is unthinkable. How do we make global digital citizens if we take away their right to use the tool wisely? Thanks Julie.

  2. I would never think of taking away technology as a punishment. I usually ask my students what they think their consequence should be. One of mine who loves to read said she wouldn't be allowed to do silent reading. I had a hard time with it, but for her this was punishment. She couldn't read until her writing was done.
    I think it also depends on how technology is being used. If it's only there for games after instruction, then sure, take it away. But we all know technology should be integral to education.

  3. Interesting, Julie! I do agree with you - and your definition of "privilege" brings your point home. The only thing I would ask is, what do you do when a student abuses technology - such as uses it inappropriately or carelessly? I guess you could take a pencil away if a student is poking someone with it. ;-) This doesn't happen very often in my classroom - I can usually redirect or have a conversation with a student to get him/her back on track. My kids usually have mild infractions, but what if it's worse? Thoughts? Many times I think the abuse of technology comes when responsible use is not thoroughly taught, but there are always a few... Thanks for bringing this up! It's a valuable conversation.

    1. Great question Holly. I agree with you. Usually, those small infractions turn out to be good learning experiences. I have only had one time that a child repeatedly abused technology and we had to take it away from him because it was pretty serious. I think it's good that we are having this conversation.

  4. I am just an assistant, but our district has been 1:1 for 5 years now. Our students take their devices home. Sometimes they forget them. They make due the old school way on those days. Technology is here to stay -- I get it, but we can not begin to pretend we are preparing them for a future we can not predict. We can not engineer a Bill Gates or Mark Zukerburg. Children should not become so dependent on technology that they can not function without the glow of a screen. If a child is abusing technology, the technology should be revoked for a period of time -- that is a logical consequence. Taking away the use of game time within technology for other infractions is also acceptable --if they are not showing respect for others, property, or established rules, then they cannot be trusted to treat the technology properly. Technology is a wonderful tool, but because of the expense of having 1:1, we are being led to believe it is everything and I just don't agree.

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