Monday, September 24, 2012

The Computer in the Bedroom Experiment is Now Over

When we moved in to this house in August we realized the computer desk area is too small for three people (my sons and I). It is too tight to work in without bickering. I decided to, for the first time, let my fifteen year old son have his laptop in his bedroom. I was against this for years for a very good reason: I didn't want my kids having unsupervised internet access and access to play video games and other things at any hour of the day and night. I also worried that my son would not do his homeschool lessons on it but instead would goof off.

My son said he was ready and mature enough to follow the family rules. He said he would not do the things we do not permit.

The bottom line is he did not live up to what he said. My son was not getting his work done when left to his own devices. He would say he was doing online math but when I went to check on him, he was on Facebook or was playing Minecraft or discussing Minecraft on bulletin board forums or watching videos on YouTube or other such timesuck activities.

We went through a rough patch where he would lie to me and insist, angrily, that I was unjustly accusing him of doing things that he swore he was not doing. It is amazing and horrible how people can manipulate a situation and wind up making the accurate accuser seem like they did something wrong.

Our plates are full and my husband and I were trying to figure out the best way to handle the situation. The first decision was to let him keep the computer in his room but to try to limit his ability to surf the net anytime he wanted. We used the parental controls on our internet service provider to lock out the ability to use the internet for anything at bedtime. We locked out the ability to visit Facebook and YouTube and certain other sites during school hours. Somehow my son figured out how to hack it. He continued doing all the banned things and lying about what he was really doing with his time. The last infraction was he said he finished his chemistry homework on Wednesday and Thursday but then late Sunday night he said he just remembered he never did it and stayed up late into the night to complete it before Monday morning.

My younger son was doing this type of sneaking as well but his laptop was in the office area. He would just wait until I left the area to sneak to do something else instead of his schoolwork. He also snuck out of bed to use the computer at night since the office is near his bedroom and not near our bedroom, so we did not know at first. One night I went upstairs to get something and it was dark up there, it was after eleven, and I was scared when my son popped up from his computer where he had been playing a video game in the dark!

As of today we have decided it is time to end the computer in the bedroom experiment. As of tomorrow during school hours my sons will be in public rooms WITH ME IN THE ROOM to supervise their activities whether they are laptop computer activities or other activities. I am not quite sure where we will do our work, maybe in the famil room / kitchen connected rooms. Since they have laptops and they don't demand real desks I guess I could have them follow me around the house so I could be where I want to be.

I can't tell you how disappointed I am that my kids have let me down on this. I trusted them to do what they said they would do and they lied and deceived my husband and I. Perhaps some of you are snickering at the idea that we were so trusting but truly we have had a strong bond and trust has always been a part of our relationship with our sons and in the past they rarely have faltered. I misjudged my kids, I believed them when they said they were ready to have less supervision with computer access. Since they cannot live by our family's rules by placing academics before entertainment we will step back and make new rules and become more strict and see if they can comply and start to rebuild our trust.


Rachel said...

I am so sorry your boys are putting you through this. It is disappointing, to say the least.
My older kids are girls, and they will tattle if the other is wasting time, which I didn't think was a good thing, but I guess it is.

Cori said...

We now have 4 of whom is only one yr old...and a daughter. They all say one thing and do the other. I am so over feeling bad about calling them out when they lie and locking up all the computers every time I leave the room. It's life these days. Everything is so casual these days and it has degraded society to such an incredible degree. Sad, but these kids don't even think about how it damages their relationships now and future relationships. They have no idea what this is all going to add up to. We have all tried very hard, but while we are trying so hard...we go to mass on Sunday and inevitably there's some woman or teen with writing on the butt of her shorts or workout pants. No dignity or self-respect anywhere anymore.