Need opinions on difficult child's using the internet

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by klmno, Feb 26, 2010.

  1. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    My son is 15yo and has been incarcerated sinece 2 weeks after turning 14yo. Previously, while living at home, he disobeyed rules regarding cell phones and the computer in major ways. He had stolen cell phones, ran up bills, been up during all hours of the night using these things, downloading porn, sending photos of himself (although I never saw any sign of nude ones), been court ordered for me to remove the computer, busted through a door to keep it locked up, stole my credit cards to buy things off the internet, tried to buy a gun from the internet, and played very violent games online.

    Now the issue of the week for him is that I told him since I HAVE to have the computer for work under the current circumstances and I can't afford for it to get viruses or have files or software messed up, he will have to stay off this computer. I told him he'll have a school issued laptop (no internet service) He's saying "all his friends have internet service, he should have it too because he's older and more responsible now".

    OK- I'm sure he's right about that point. However, I keep thinking (and reminded him) about how he never before stayed within the boundaries of the rules so this priviledge would not come back quickly. He's saying he'll work to pay for it and all these other promises like it's the most important thing in the world and I'm being undreasonable. I don't know if I am or not- I have no doubt that most kids his age have their own computer- or at least access- and can easily use the internet. But I know all he did iin the past, albeit he was 11-13yo, and I keep hearing these news stories about worse stuff happening via the internet all the time.

    So I'm wondering what others' thoughts are on this subject. I was thinking about telling him if he gets off probation and buys his own computer or pays for wireless service so he can use the internet thru the school district's computer (which will check for inappropriate use and report him) then fine. Otherwise, no.

    Where do you all stand on this for a boy this age and given his history?

    Oh- and then there's my bro who will contact difficult child if he ever sees a fb or myspace page of difficult child's. And that would lead to a problem.
  2. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    As you know, my son is currently in an Residential Treatment Center (RTC). The Residential Treatment Center (RTC) owns a transition house where about 1/3 of the boys go for step-down until they are able to go home. At the transition house there is a computer in the kitchen with internet access that has nannynet-type protections. The desktop computers upstairs do not have internet access and are used for the express purpose of word processing for homework.

    If you can work out some sort of computer arrangement with out-in-the-open internet access and nannynet protections, then I think your son can have access to a computer with internet. Otherwise, I think you have to say no.
  3. BeyondWeary

    BeyondWeary New Member

    Oh, I know the situation well. I put password protection on mine so that my difficult child can't even get on the computer by himself. THEN, I bought NetNanny to protect access from violent, porn, etc etc etc. if he gets on and I am out of the room They both work very well. OH- be sure to set all the controls on your cable/sattelite so that access to all adult stuff is closed.
  4. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I tried the password when he was 12yo. He found a way to go around it, which meant I couldn't even access windows until I called the manuf and he lead me thru changing a chip on the mother board. And our cable- yep- it's set, but all difficult child has to do is unplug everything for a few mins and plug it back in. And he has figured that out.

    Sometimes I think I have the biggest difficult child of all. :(
  5. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I wish there was a step down program for my son. There are half-way houses, so to speak, but he doesn't qualify for any and the PO said that's where the most sexual abuse was (not in all step down places- just the ones Department of Juvenile Justice contracts to around here because most are for kids with histories of sex abuse on others or very violent behavior).

    If I got netnanny, would it allow me to lock him out of certain software and files/folders, or does it just monito where he's been on the net?
  6. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I would have him demonstrate that he is truly more mature...not just older...before I let him near the Internet. Given that he has a history of being untrustworthy with the technology, I would be very cautious about what I allowed. JMO.
  7. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I've been giving this some thought. I know that the computer, internet, mp3 players, electronic readers, smart phones, really are the stuff of our kid's generation. It's part of their life and what they use to stay in touch and tuned in.

    However, given your son's troubling history with the computer - I was not aware that you were court ordered to remove internet access - I would be very leery about giving his access too quickly. Perhaps this needs to be an earned privilage.

    And, rather then having him pay for wireless so that his laptop can be used anywhere in the house, wire him up to your station (get a router where you can use two cords) so that he has to stay right there in the general open area to use the internet. There is a smaller possibility of abuse and temptation when you know mom is working next to you or could be walking by any moment.

    You two could have your desks right there together. You can be working and he could be doing his homework or messing around on the computer.

    k, did you get that contract job?

    Last edited: Feb 27, 2010
  8. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    klmno - I would say no, period. His friends may all have internet, but they don't have his history. (I can't help but think of my mother's standard response to this - if all my friends were jumping off bridges, would I jump off a bridge too?)

    Trust is given freely the first time, but twice as hard to earn back once violated. He has a *lot* of earning to do.

    Just my opinion, but internet access is a guaranteed battle if you give it to him with restrictions. Do you need the headache of monitoring him, of trying to follow his usage (especially if he gets sneaky again)? There are more important things that he needs to address right now. I know this sounds harsh, but he hasn't earned the right to be treated like an older and more responsible 15-year-old.

    I would say no and put a time frame on it. Say you'll review it in X months, and clearly lay out what the expectations are in order for him to re-earn it. No theft, good grades, whatever.

    klmno, it seems to me that you are bending over backwards to accommodate him. I know you want his homecoming to be successful and without question I support you in your efforts. But I think it's perfectly reasonable to set limits until he shows thru actions that he is ready for more freedoms. He threatened you because you wouldn't give him a cigarette, and somehow thought that was reasonable at the ripe old age of 14. Yes, hopefully he has matured and can make better choices, but I would be really cautious about how much trust and freedom you give him right out of the gate. As I've told my difficult child a gazillion times, "show me the money". Talk is easy, follow through is something completely different. But... that's just my opinion, hon. I'm not there.
  9. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    This is one I would stand my ground on too. He hasnt shown the capability to self monitor and control himself. This is going to be a major battle for you. It is too big a risk to let him have it out of the gate.
  10. Bean

    Bean Member

    The internet can be almost as dangerous as drugs. One of the hardest things for our difficult child to learn is that what "everyone else is doing" can be/has been problematic to them. Maybe everyone else has internet, but not everyone else has abused it. Many people can be responsible with their internet use, but kids who are prone to addiction and have poor impulse control can have a really hard time with internet (porn, social connections, etc.).

    Definitely NO to outright giving it to him. Let him use it at the library. At least there's people all around and the potential for abuse is much less.
  11. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Thanks all! I feel more comfortable about my gut reaction now. I'll talk to him about it tomorrow and more after he gets home, after I think more about specific ways to deal with setting boundaries in the future, but right now it will be "no" unless it's requireed for school, then it will be with direct supervision. At the end of the summer I might set boundaries for more use- depending on how he's done between now and then.

    To clarify- the court order for removing the computer was a few years ago, temporarily, so we aren't under that order now or it wouldn't even be a matter for discussion.
  12. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    One thing jumps out at me about this situation that concerns me - he's already arguing about it like its the most important thing.

    Its not. And because of his reaction to the possibility of not having internet, I'd be very leery about allowing it.

    Kids his age do need internet for homework, and in that case, I'd agree with SRL - limited acces in a public space that you are sharing while he's doing it...beyond that, I'd be very afraid.
  13. janebrain

    janebrain New Member

    The same thing jumped out at me as it did with Shari--he's already arguing about it like its the most important thing. I think he is going to try to wear you down on lots of things--I'm sorry about that. Stay strong and good luck!
  14. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I noticed that too. As far as games, he has an xbox that he can play games on without using the computer. I think he's been talking to other boys in Department of Juvenile Justice about how to saty connected once they are released, too. Another thing that stuck out at me was the way he said "but mom, you said I was more mature now and you just don't really trust me" or something like that- and the tone of voice used...well, it sounded more like this was manipulation than really something that needed to be discussed. I think this is where I need to draw the line on compromising and planning his return home. We have enough on our plates already for transitioning him back into mainstream. This is the part of it that I plan to discuss with him tomorrow.
  15. skeeter

    skeeter New Member

    my youngest had limitations on computer. Not because of inappropriate use, but because if I didn't monitor it, he would stay on forever.

    We would turn off the wireless after 9pm. With his room being in our basement, he couldn't "pirate" on our neighbors or anything, the signal wasn't strong enough.

    Again - he couldn't self regulate, so we had to. It has nothing to do with "trust".
  16. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Skeeter...perfect example of how word choice can have such an impact...essentially, the outcome is the same, but the words are much less harsh to the 15yo hearing them...
  17. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    K, my gut reaction is "no" with caveats. As you know, kt has been home only 2 months now; she has not gained access to the internet. She can do research if I or one of kt's staff is there to supervise. Once computer/internet is earned it will always be under supervision & in a common area, i.e. kitchen, living room, etc.

    kt knows my line in the sand on this one & is hesitant to step over it. Go with your gut on this one ~ not every kid has free internet access as our kids would have us believe.
  18. emotionallybankrupt

    emotionallybankrupt New Member

    I have a different take on this. I say give the internet access. At least there are safeguards you can put on the computer--monitoring tools, etc.--so that you will have some idea about what difficult child is up to. You will have a window to know whether difficult child is becoming more responsible or just playing you.

    What are your alternatives? Will difficult child never be able to leave your home? You have no tools to monitor anything when difficult child is somewhere else. Does withholding computer access at home make a difference in how difficult child behaves? Or does it just change the route by which the misbehavior would occur? If you have a tool for some awareness, then you may at least be able to avoid being blindsided--or even intervene to prevent some problems.

    If you believe withholding access will prevent problems, then I would withhold access. My experience, however, is that it doesn't work.
  19. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    EB, the problem with allowing it with safeguards is her son has shown before that he is able - and will - go around those safeguards to get where he wants on the computer. Including breaking into a locked room and rebooting a computer to go around password protections. Now I believe Windows 7 would eliminate that problem from what I have been told. I dont have it but my son does and he tells me that if you set up parental controls they really work well. I would still want they netnanny's on the computer too but Win7 does allow you to set time limits and access codes.
  20. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Well, I can't afford a new windows package. I'll have to check in the netnanny about cost and what exactly it does. I'd like to get one that monitors everything, including key strokes, and have it on the computer even during this initial period when I am not going to allow usage at all unless school required and I'm right with him.