My child is in grade 8 and attends a laptop school. She has a school owned laptop and has had one since 6th grade. We had little to no issues in 6th grade, a few issues in 7th grade and now - well, it is getting out of control.
We do have K9 Web protection software on the computer so we are able to do a certain amount of blocking and do periodic checks to ensure her safety but have not found anything worrisome in regards XXXXX XXXXX predators, inappropriate sites (other than insane amounts of time on sites showing TV episodes).
She has been - until this year - a pretty good student (A's mostly). This year we have seen a steady decline from A's to several B. Not horrible grades I know and if we saw her really trying then we wouldn't be so worried but she clearly isn't. She is an active child - on sports teams and a regular babysitting gig Saturday nights. She also has lots of friends that we've met and like. She really does appear to make good decisions EXCEPT for the time she wastes while on the computer.
We've read many online sites and they all seem to say - ensure homework is done before playing. Well - of course. We say that too but she's says she is working on her computer for homework but when we walk past her room (door is always open & we can see the screen), we can see how she is distracted with a movie playing on half her screen or a chat window up. We tell her she can't do this, explain the importance of school work but the arguments that ensue are terrible! Horribly terrible! This is how she communicates with her friends. She needs the chat window up to get homework help. She is just taking a little break. We have tried other consequences (taking away the phone or get togethers with friends) and yes they help temporarily but then the problem surges again. What I really want to do is take away the laptop but she does need it for homework. Short of sitting beside her for the entire time (how practical is that - we have other children and household duties and she is 14!) there doesn't appear to be a way to keep her on task. The school says she needs the computer for school work but when she is "doing homework" from 5 pm to after 11 pm, we know that there is horrible distractions going on.
My question is - if a student needs the computer for homework but is incredibly distracted by the wonderful distractions on the computer, what can a parent set in place to help their child stay focussed? I'm really torn between giving her space and privacy to grow and still setting up appropriate limits because I think she needs them. I could just take away the computer at a certain time of night but I think we are on a cusp of no longer caring about school work. If I take it away and she hasn't completed her homework and her grades go down and she decides she doesn't care about high scores anymore - then haven't I just messed up in another way? At least now she is getting her school work done - albeit at extremely late hours of the evening.
I can get a computer program that allows me to see in real time what she is doing on her computer. I can set up even more limits that prevent a computer being used at certain hours or even certain programs being used at certain hours but the school balks at installing these programs (they own the computer and maintain admin rights). They believe in teaching the child to manage these distractions as opposed to blocking them all (which they say is impossible to do anyway). So - how? How do I teach my daughter to manage her distractions while working on the computer? Keeping the computer where I can see it, taking away privileges and K9 are just creating insane arguments and don't appear to be making a difference anyway. Have I mentionned the insane tears, yelling and fits of anger that comes when we try to restrict the computer?
Anyway - that is my life right now. If you have any insight on concrete things that I can do to help alleviate this bain of our existence right now - I'd appreciate it.
Hello and thank you for replying. I am sorry that your daughter's computer problems have caused so much strife. As an 8th grader, your daughter should not have about 5 hours of homework a night on the computer..maybe 2-3 at the most. You do have a few options: 1. As you mentioned, set time limits on the computer. Make sure she knows the time frame in which the limits have been composed. 2. Move the computer to a high traffic place like the kitchen so all can see her computer activity 3. Check and keep up with her daily homework assignments so you know exactly what needs to be done on the computer 4. Take the computer out of her room and only allow it in her room for a for hours 5. Make her use your computer and completely take her computer away for a while. Those are really your only options.
The main problem is that she is reaching an age where the social scene means more to her than anything in the world. School is being put on the back burner. She is into the social networking sites and texting her friends if she has a phone. Stay on top of her actions or else it will only gets much worse.
Hope I have provided you with some insight. Have a great day. If you need more advice, just ask.