SD has a problem
Well, FDH was able to back up his words with actions. He and I talked on the ride home from work yesterday over our concerns with SD's behavior this week. I said that I was most disappointed by the shadiness of her behavior and he expressed a concern over her behavior being addiction-like in nature. And he was totally right. Some might scoff, but, internet addiction is a real thing and SD was exhibiting traits towards that. She has a reflex towards going online either on a laptop or her phone; for instance, when she sits down in a chair other than the one she sits in to do schoolwork, she immediately grabs her cell phone and starts surfing the internet. And, the shady behaviors worried him as well in that respect. She was doing what she knew she shouldn't but hiding it and covering her tracks so we wouldn't find out (because we're too dumb to figure things out, ha). I never thought about it in that sense before, but, he's totally right.
But, aside from the hiding and covering her tracks, the signs of internet abuse and addiction are there. This list comes from a website related to internet addiction and it said that three or four of these signs is related to abuse whereas five or more is related to addiction. I won't say that SD undoubtedly has a full-blown internet addiction, but, I won't sugar coat it and act like she doesn't have a problem.
Increasing amounts of time spent on computer and internet activities - we have to kick her offline and force her to go do something else. Each night that we've gone out this week, she's been on the computer surfing the web when we come home. And she's been getting up in the middle of the night to surf the web.
Failed attempts to control behavior - She didn't even last a day after GUBM mailed her cell phone to us before FDH had to take it to work with him (the first week she was here, she was banned from personal electronics because of her lying in March related to her schoolwork).
Heightened sense of euphoria while involved in computer and internet activities - She will be the most sullen individual on the planet until she gets online to do something fun, then she's suddenly chipper and giggly. But, the moment you pull her away? Back to sullen.
Craving more time on the computer and internet - This one's fairly obvious, she was hiding in the bathroom on her cell phone surfing the web AND getting up at all hours of the night to surf the web.
Neglecting friends and family - She would rather stay home to surf the internet than come do things with FDH and I - I have to discuss how we're going to handle this with FDH some because that's going to change going forward. She shouldn't be forced to go out with us every time we go out because that is what GUBM does (and FDH and I go out on dates per the recommendation of the counselor), but, she can't stay home and surf the web every time we go out.
Feeling restless when not engaged in the activity - She couldn't even sit for 30 minutes this morning to do a schoolwork assignment. She had to go for a walk because she was "jittery". Same thing happened yesterday. And the day before. And the day before. And...well, you get the gist.
Being dishonest with others - Hiding in the bathroom and sneaking out of her room in the middle of the night to use the internet. And then flat out LYING to FDH and I about the fact that she changed her online status on that one website even though he and I both KNOW she did it (she kept insisting that she was "confused" by the fact that we could see it so she went to "check it" on Thursday because she had "always" had it set to invisible. If that were true, then why wouldn't she have been confused the FIRST time FDH told her he saw it back on the 5th?? Because she's lying, obviously)
Computer use interfering with job/school performance - This one's pretty obvious. She's been caught on that damn website a few times this month so far when she's supposed to be doing schoolwork, AND she does NO schoolwork at GUBM's because she's too distracted by the internet.
Changes in sleep patterns - This one is a bit trickier to discern. She does often get up in the middle of the night, but, it can also be attributed to the fact that she does most of her internet surfing in the middle of the night. However, it can be attributed to the eveningness that teenagers experience, where they're wired to stay up later and sleep later. So this is a maybe.
Withdrawing from other pleasurable activities - This kid used to sit and read for hours and hours on end all day every day when I first met her. Now, we have to kick her offline and she'll read. The first week she was here, prior to GUBM sending back her phone, she read for hours each day because that's all she had to do. Then, as soon as the phone was back, the reading stopped. And, rather than play video games anymore, she sits and watches play-throughs on YouTube Aside from being lazy as hell (why not just play the damn games??) it's another indicator that she has a problem with the internet.
But, I have to give FDH a lot of credit with this one, he took steps to address this all with her, though not necessarily the steps I would have taken (if it were me, I would hide all of her personal electronics at night and ban her from personal internet use for a while for lying repeatedly about these things in addition to what he did). But, he made her log in to her online account and he changed the password so that she can't use it unless he's present. He gave me the password, but, I'm not logging her on.
He's also going to be monitoring the router at home - we considered disabling it at a certain time of night, but, SD has unlimited data on her cell phone (which she professes to not use for the internet - more lies) and there are a few neighbors around here who have unlocked wifi so she would still be able to get on no matter what. He's going to monitor it regularly over the next week to make sure SD isn't using the net at night anymore, and he's going to look at the logs once a week going forward. And he told her this because he's not going to rely on her good word anymore because her good word is not so good (I mean, she lied THREE TIMES in the past two days about the most ridiculous stuff). If he finds that she's using the net at night going forward? She's going to lose her electronics at night; they will be locked away in our bedroom. And we will be talking ALL electronics, school computer, personal computer, and cell phone. And her Xbox will be locked down so it can't get on the internet. She needs to learn how to monitor herself and manage her time better.
She is also no longer allowed to bring her cell phone into the bathroom with her because we just can't trust her to not surf the internet when she's in there at this point. She knows fully that we require her to use internet accessing devices in the common areas of the house so that FDH or I can be aware of what she is doing and monitor her usage. She has to prove that it isn't as big of a problem for her as we think it might be, because if it's not, then great, restrictions will get lessened and we will work with her on being more responsible with the internet. But if it is? Then we will address the problem again and figure out a better solution to address the issue.
I will say, though, that she's being a little more attentive to other things today. She has repeatedly turned lights off after herself when leaving rooms since last night. FDH and I went out to dinner and a movie, and when we came home, we were both surprised to find she had turned off all the lights. She's also been cleaning up after herself and closing cabinets when she's done with them. Normally, she's too distracted by the damn internet to notice what the hell she's doing and she will leave crap lying all over the apartment and every damn cabinet open. So maybe it's not a super severe problem and it will remedy itself. Or, maybe she's just afraid that we'll take everything away from her and force her to spend her nights in the analog. Either way, I have and will continue to commend her for remembering these simple things ^_^