Q: Our 13-year-old daughter has been mature for her age from early on. She takes advanced classes and makes straight A’s. She’s also talented musically.
We think, however, that she has become a media addict. She spends entirely too much time in her room on her computer, mostly using social media. When she’s not on the computer, she’s using her phone to text her friends. We’ve asked her to limit her use, but our words are falling on deaf ears. What approach would you recommend, short of cutting off the Internet and taking away her phone? She needs a computer to do her school work.
A: If she’s addicted to electronic media, which may be the case, I don’t think there’s any approach that’s going to work short of restricting her use of the Internet and taking away her phone.
Move her computer to a family area so you’re able to monitor her use, which you can restrict to school purposes. No child her age should have a private password, by the way. That simply invites trouble, but you can’t do much about that as long as the computer is in her room.
At age 13, she doesn’t need her own cell phone, unless one defines need as “needing” to have what her friends have. You can give her a cell phone on select occasions, such as a camping trip where no other type of phone is available. It’s probably the case that she doesn’t go on lots of camping trips, which only goes to prove that she doesn’t need her own cell phone.
You’ve asked her to limit her use? Who, pray tell, is running your household? I suspect that like many of today’s parents, you’re reluctant to do anything about this problem that might cause your daughter any inconvenience, much less distress. In the 12-step world, that’s known as enabling, and in the real world, that’s how problems go from bad to worse.
A psychologist, Rosemond answers parents’ questions at www.rosemond.com.