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SD has a problem

attempting_to_maintain_composure's picture

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 Fool 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 ^_^


attempting_to_maintain_composure's picture

Our biggest concern with it is that addiction runs on both sides of SD's family. Her mom, maternal uncle, and maternal grandfather have/had substance abuse issues including alcohol, her mom and maternal grandmother have shopping addictions, and her paternal grandfather is a recovering alcoholic. So she's aware of the risk of things that are obviously addictive, like drugs, but she's blissfully unaware that she could develop an addiction towards other things, including the internet.

SD is a huge waster of electricity all around in general. She's got issues with turning off lights when she's not in the room, but, she's getting better at that. She also has a nasty habit of leaving her school laptop open and running rather than letting it go into a low-power mode or shutting it down (though I don't blame her for shutting it down because it's slow to start up, but she should at least put it in suspend or sleep mode when she's done for the day). Our power bill always spikes when SD's here. I'm very mindful of electricity usage in the house - FDH and SD are not. She has a mindset that is towards conservation, but, her knowledge needs some tweaking. Like, GUBM has hammered it into SD's head her entire life that letting water run wastes the water, when in reality, it wastes the energy that is used to turn the used water back into potable water.

I do know about coltan mining and conflict minerals, I spent a solid year studying it in undergrad for funsies with the feminist group on campus. SD just rolls her eyes at things like that.

moeilijk's picture

I think FDH has it so easy with you there to investigate and analyze everything for him!!! My DH is also lucky with me Biggrin

My opinion below is just a conversation piece Blum 3

A big issue is that SD has so much unsupervised time in the day. I can see how the internet holds a lot of appeal as she doesn't get that much social interaction, and not that much with her peers. Do you guys have a plan for that? I think key would be to find group activities where she actually fits in. Not just age/sex peers, if you know what I mean, although that is also important. She may also need some training on social niceties. Like how kids play tea parties, she might need help learning how to navigate her social environment. She sounds on the one hand a bit of an old soul, with some of her deeper insights, but also bit of a lazy bumpkin when it comes to personal responsibility.

attempting_to_maintain_composure's picture

I'm glad FDH at least recognizes that with me haha. He's got a lot of help from me in terms of both making sure SD isn't alone every day of the week (I could easily just go out and do my own thing on weekends if I wanted but I hang here to make sure she has someone to talk to) and helping him figure certain things out.

SD absolutely has way too much unsupervised time during the week. When she's at GUBM's she's home alone most days. When she's here, FDH is only ever really home and awake on Mondays and Thursdays, but sometimes it's only Thursdays because Monday's he's just beat up after working two twelve hour shifts overnights on Saturday and Sunday. So she gets 3-4 days of unsupervised time during the week. If it were up to me, she would be back in regular school or at least in the more structured online school so that she would not only have contact with peers, but, contact with adults outside of me, FDH, and GUBM. But, unfortunately, it is how it is for now, though FDH is starting to see some positives in relation to getting her into the more structured online program.

We're definitely trying to figure out a way for her to get out and socialize with people she has commonalities with because I personally do not trust the people she's socializing with online. She portrays a false image of herself and yet believes everything these people say verbatim without considering that they have the potential to portray themselves as someone they are not. That's not to say all of them aren't being honest, but, she just doesn't think about the fact that it's easy for others to lie like she does.

We have offered to get her to teen social events at the local library and we had set her up to play Magic with a friend's son and his friends weekly. She's rebuked the offer of the library events and she went to Magic a few times before deciding she didn't like it anymore. Her claim is that she's much happier to spend time by herself and that she doesn't need friends when she has books. But, she also doesn't have any real or solid social skills. When she was doing her testing this week, on the last day, some other kid was sitting in the seat she had sat in the previous two days. Another kid offered up the empty seat nearby and said that SD could sit there and they could be friends. SD froze like a deer in headlights and said NOTHING in response. Not even a "thanks." So she absolutely needs training on social skills.

GUBM didn't put her in pre-school, so she didn't get to socialize with other kids when she was young. Rather, GUBM brought her to work with her every day. None of GUBM's friends had kids when she was growing up. The only kid she had to socialize with was FDH's youngest niece who is the same age as SD. But as unskilled in social habits and lazy as SD is, FDH's niece is the opposite. But, it never really rubbed off on SD. GUBM's traits did, however. So, when she does spend time around other kids, she's rude, mean, and bossy (and not the assertive "I have an opinion, too" kind of fake-bossy. The "you need to do this or else you're an asshole" kind of bossy).

And, of course, everyone's opinions BUT SD's are complete rubbish. She has gotten better with this, but, she still holds onto that. If an opinion of your own happens to differ from SD's, she will snidely tell you how you are wrong and how she is right no matter what because she's perfect and can do no wrong. Example: she and I were talking one night and she mentioned 'posers' in the 'scene' who just get into something because it's 'trendy.' I mentioned that sure, those people totally exist, but, that at her age, she should probably keep in mind that people are just trying on personalities and trying to figure out who they are as a person, so she can never be sure if these people are in fact 'posers' or just experimenting with who they are as a person. Well, naturally, I was wrong because they're all just posers and fakers and don't really have dedication to the scene like she does *eyeroll*.

SD is also of the mindset that it is up to OTHER people to maintain the relationship she has with them and not her responsibility. SD doesn't reach out to the friends she used to have and gets mad at them because they don't get in touch with her at the frequency that she thinks they should. She expects people to text and call her daily and doesn't place any of that responsibility on herself. She doesn't realize that all relationships are a two-way street because that's how GUBM treats relationships, too.

Then there's the weirdness that she thinks when she has any "friend" (and I use that term here loosely because of the people she associates with online) that she doesn't need more. When she was here in 2012, she had two friends back in NJ and never even bothered talking to the kids at the summer camp we sent her to unless she absolutely had to do so. She saw no point in it. But, when she did talk to her friends in NJ, it was usually her bossing them around about things and telling them how they couldn't go do any fun things over their summer break until she got back. *smh*

moeilijk's picture

Didn't you mention you had or were going to study Psychology? You'll need it with this SD! How do you keep a straight face with some of what she says? You and I can see how unrealistic she's being sometimes, and she can't... she needs a mirror. I guess falling off your chair laughing about her being more 'dedicated to the scene' would be too much?

To me, I hear classic 'making up a bunch of rules because I need structure, then forgetting I made them up, and then thinking I have to follow them rigidly, then getting mad at others who seem to have lost their copy of the rules....' thinking! She needs to learn some critical thinking skills STAT.

She may not enjoy socializing that much, I know I've gone through periods feeling like a homebody and others where I'm out painting the town red a lot. But KNOWING how to initiate and have pleasant conversations with strangers is an important life skill. Another important life skill is recognizing 'kindred spirits' and deepening in a friendship. She can read the first few Anne of Green Gables books for that lesson lol

attempting_to_maintain_composure's picture

Yea, I studied psychology in undergrad and am beginning the process of applying to graduate psychology programs in the next month or so. Thankfully, my main focus in undergrad was developmental psychology so I'm able to figure certain things out about SD that FDH might not be able to, lol.

She absolutely needs to learn critical thinking skills. GUBM has taught her the basic skill of questioning all authority. But it's not in a critical way, rather, it's in a "you think you have authority, so everything you say is crap" way.

And I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to be yourself or being introverted, but, I'm an introvert and I at least have the basic social skills lol. She's introverted but she can't socialize if she needs to do so. I can have a conversation with people if I need to, I don't just sit there with a scowl or dumb look on my face if there are people around me that are trying to talk to me. Unless it's my mom or full-sister, in which case, no thanks.

Oh, she won't read anything like Anne of Green Gables, which is a shame because they're amazing books.

moeilijk's picture

She may be too old for Anne of Green Gables of course. I read them well before age 12. (Ha, age 12 I was reading Atlas Shrugged and anything by Jane Austen. My former college teacher granddad didn't believe I could possibly understand what I was reading, so I wrote a book report. He told me that none of his college students had ever written such a good book report. He might have been full of bs (which I just now realize is possible lol) but man, he encouraged me!!)

From age 10 or so, my mom would have to review my book selections because I was intellectually able to read at a certain level, but emotionally not. I couldn't understand sex stuff really, so she had to take that out.

I recently read a book for tweens that I thought was really really good - gosh, I just can't recall the name of it - but it followed the dating life of a young teen girl and her almost-grandma, who lived next-door and had Parkinson's disease. It really got into self-respect, self-love, love for others, choices, happiness, and was a thoroughly good read to boot.