It all used to be so simple: Break the rules, get grounded and be forbidden from hanging out with your friends. These days, of course, social media makes anywhere a teen hangout, and parents looking to ground their kids might choose to cut off access to social media instead.

But that punishment might not have its desired effect and could even have some harmful consequences for teenagers, according to a new study, reports Stuff.

Teens forced to take a break from social media lose more than just a few days gossiping with friends, according to research funded and conducted by the University of Chicago. The researchers surveyed 790 teenagers about whether they'd ever taken a break from social media by choice or by force.

"The side effect of that is taking away from potential emotional support and from access to information," said Amanda Lenhart, the study's lead researcher.

"That's not just what's happening in friends' lives, which is one component, but also hard news, current events and that type of information."

There's no denying that grounding a child from social media makes an immediate impact, Lenhart said. But the survey suggests that it may have a more negative effect than parents realise.