MESSAGE FROM THE PRINCIPAL
INTERNET ADDICTION: What Can Parents Do?
With students ages 8 to 18 spending on average 44.5 hours per week in front of screens, parents are increasingly concerned that screen time is robbing them of real world experiences. Nearly 23% of youth report that they feel “addicted to video games” (31% of males, 13% of females). These are the results of a new study of 1,178 U.S. children and teens (ages 8 to 18) conducted by Harris Interactive (2007) that documents a national prevalence rate of pathological video game use.
Dr. Douglas Gentile, Director of the Media Research Lab at Iowa State University reports, “Almost one out of every ten youth gamers shows enough symptoms of damage to their school, family, and psychological functioning to merit serious concern.”
Beyond gaming, students are filling their free time with other Internet activities: social networking, instant messaging (IM), blogging, downloading etc. Dr. Kimberly Young, Director of the Centre for Internet Addiction Recovery, identified the following potential warning signs for children with pathological Internet use:
- Loses track of time while online
- Sacrifices needed hours of sleep to spend time online
- Becomes agitated or angry when online time is interrupted
- Checks email several times a day
- Becomes irritable if not allowed access to the Internet
- Spends time online in place of homework or chores
- Prefers to spend time online rather than with friends or family
- Disobeys time limits that have been set for internet usage
- Lies about amount of time spent online or “sneaks” online when no one is around
- Forms new relationships with people he or she has met online
- Seems preoccupied with getting back online when away from the computer
- Loses interest in activities that were enjoyable before he or she had online access
- Becomes irritable, moody or depressed when not online
The Emotional Costs
Internet addiction among children is a growing concern. Online access is a vital part of the modern world and an important tool in the education of our children. In addition, it is a highly entertaining and informative medium. However, these very qualities also make it an enticing escape for many children. They can be anyone in an online chat room, or play thrilling and challenging games against other players from all corners of the globe. With the click of a mouse, they can enter a different world where the problems of their real life are no longer present, and all the things one wishes he or she could be or experience are possible.
Like addiction to drugs and alcohol, the Internet offers children and adolescents a way to escape painful feelings or troubling situations. They sacrifice needed hours of sleep to spend time online and withdraw from family and friends to escape into a comfortable online world that they have created and shaped.
Children who lack rewarding or nurturing relationships or who suffer from poor social and coping skills are at greater risk to developing inappropriate or excessive online habits. Because they feel alone, alienated, and have problems making new friends, they turn to invisible strangers in online chat rooms looking for the attention and companionship missing in their real lives. They may come from families with significant problems, and they cope with their problems by spending time online.
Socially, they learn to instant message friends rather than develop face-to-face relationships, which can impact their way of relating to peers. As one principal explained:
The internet is hurting their ability to work in groups. Our teachers struggle to get them to participate in any kind of team assignments; instead they would all rather stare at the computer. When I observe them talking to one another in the hallway, I see young girls who are socially aggressive or inappropriate, and I can’t help but think that the Internet is socializing them in ways that emotionally stunts them and makes it difficult for them to deal with others in the real world.
What Can Parents Do?
Address the problem:
In a two-parent household, it is critical that both parents present a united front. As parents, each must take the issue seriously and agree on common goals. Discuss the situation together and if necessary, compromise on desired goals so that when you approach your child, you will be coming from the same page. If you do not, your child will appeal to the more sceptical parent and create division between you.
In a single-parent household, the parent needs to take some time to think about what needs to be said and to prepare for the likely emotional response from the child. A child who is addicted to the Internet or becoming addicted to it will feel threatened at the very idea of curbing computer time. A single parent needs to be prepared for an emotional outburst laden with accusatory phrases designed to make the parent feel guilty or inadequate. It is important not to respond to the emotion—or worse yet, get side-tracked with a lecture on disrespect. Acknowledge your child’s feelings but stay focused on the topic of his or her Internet use.
Show you care:
It will help to begin your discussion by reminding your child that you love her and that you care about her happiness and well-being. Children often interpret questions about their behaviour as blame and criticism. You need to reassure your child that you are not condemning her. Rather, tell your child you are concerned about some of the changes you have seen in her behaviour and refer to those changes in specific terms: fatigue, declining grades, giving up hobbies, social withdrawal, etc. Assign an Internet time log– Tell your child that you would like to see an accounting of just how much time she spends online each day and which internet activities they engage in.
Remind them that with television you can monitor their viewing habits more easily, but with the Internet you need their help and cooperation to become appropriately involved. Put them on the honour system to keep the log themselves for a week or two to build trust between you. If they balk at this idea or clearly lie in their log, you are likely dealing with their denial of addiction.
Become more computer-savvy:
Checking history folders and Internet logs, learning about monitoring software, and installing filters all require a degree of computer savvy. It is important for every parent to learn the terms (both technical and popular) and be comfortable with the computer, at least enough to know what your child is doing online. Take an active interest in the Internet and learn about where your child goes online. There are many resources available online at www.esafety.gov.au .
Set reasonable rules:
Many parents get angry when they see the signs of Internet addiction in their child and take the computer away as a form of punishment. Others become frightened and force their child to quit cold turkey, believing that is the only way to get rid of the problem. Both approaches invite trouble– your child will internalize the message that they are bad; they will look at you as the enemy instead of an ally; and they will suffer real withdrawal symptoms of nervousness, anger, and irritability. Instead, work with your child to establish clear boundaries for limited Internet usage. Allow perhaps an hour per night after homework, with a few extra weekend hours. Stick to your rules and remember that you’re not simply trying to control him or her – you are working to free them of a psychological dependence.
Make the computer visible– Move your daughter’s personal computer and personal devices (iPad, iPhone) out of her bedroom.
LEAVE REQUESTS FOR STUDENTS IN 2016
Our Term dates for 2016 are as follows:
Term 1: 29 January (7, 11, 12), 1 February (8, 9, 10) 2016 until 8 April 2016
Term 2: 26 April 2016 – 1 July 2016
Term 3: 18 July 2016 – 22 September 2016
Term 4: 10 October 2016 – 14 December 2016
It would be desirable if all holidays were booked in the published vacation times. If you wish to seek leave outside of these dates, please consult with the information on our website. It is the expectation that as minimum, students must attend school for at least 85% of the year. That is, cannot have more than 30 days off per annum.
If you seek leave for your daughter, take into account that she may need time off during the year due to illness or misadventure. Once we dip below 85% attendance, there are real concerns about your daughter’s ability to progress to the next year of schooling.
Our approach to attendance is underpinned by extensive research both here in Australia and overseas that definitely makes the point that each day counts. An interesting longitudinal study was conducted in Western Australia and is worthwhile reading. [Reference: Hancock, K. J., Shepherd, C. C. J., Lawrence, D., & Zubrick, S. R. (2013). Student attendance and educational outcomes: Every day counts. Report for the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Canberra.]
YEAR 7 2016 ORIENTATION DAY: THE CLASS OF 2021
- Dolphins are extraordinarily intelligent animals who also display culture, something which was long-believed to be unique to humans (although now recognised in various species).
- Dolphins have several highly developed forms of communication. They have a “signature whistle” which allows other individuals to recognise them.
- Dolphins are altruistic animals. They are known to stay and help injured individuals, even helping them to the surface to breath. Their compassion also extends across the species-barrier. There are many accounts of dolphins helping humans and even whales.
We know our Class of 2021 is a collective group of highly intelligent girls and we trust their compassion for one another, and their skills in communication, will set them apart within our school community. We know their squeals will already be their “signature whistle”!
We have many new families joining our community, for the first time. For some families it is their second or third child going to high school so they know what to expect but for others it is the beginning of the six year journey to the Higher School Certificate. Here is some advice for our new parents.
It is important to teach your daughter to be mature, independent adults before they enter the school gates. They need to read school rules and procedures carefully, listen to directions, and be prepared to suffer the consequences of repeated poor choices.
They need to learn social skills: How to introduce themselves to new girls, being polite and courteous to all around them, including adults and teachers. Being inclusive of isolated girls and not repeating harmful gossip is top on the list of surviving high school. Girls need to become the change they want to see in others before they try to change others.
Reading is also important. Our Year 7 (2016) students will receive a reading list tailor made for their level of reading and comprehension. Girls should continue to read widely, fiction and non-fiction, and make a point of keeping up with global, national and international news so they can refer to these in specialist areas in Years 10, 11 and 12.
Tickets are selling fast. Don’t forget to purchase your tickets and ensure you don’t miss out on an amazing evening. To purchase last remaining tickets, please click on the following link: http://www.tickethost.com.au/Eventlist.aspx
Our mantra:“Girls can do anything. Bethany girls can do everything!* (*except divide by zero)” Vicki Lavorato Principal