My daughter is 12 and spends practically all day on her tablet or laptop, I have tried turning the internet off for some of the day but it causes so many arguments, she's moody when not playing her favourite online games, she shouts at me and her brother. She literally sits on her bed all day o lying coming out for her dinner. Does anyone have any advice, or know where I can go for help please? I cant stand watching her wasting her life away, doing nothing but playing online games. Thankyou
How do you know she’s wasting her life away? I’m not sure what you mean by that. I’m not a child but I have autism and I’m so glued to my phone that I’m getting pains etc in that arm, but it’s been the best thing ever for me. I’m so grateful to it.
I got into using my phone and iPad when I was in severe burn out, I was barely leaving my bed, and I somehow discovered YouTube and games, and it changed my life. I’ve gone from being the life and soul of the party, to never wanting to leave my house, and I’ve never been happier in my life.
I have learned so much about communicating, by getting on line and about myself, about other people and I have so much fun. I research people like Henry Ford, or whoever takes my interest, and I’m in heaven, for days.
I even learned how to eat, by playing a fish game on my phone. I noticed that if I ate and drank water, I could go up the levels, and if I didn’t, I wouldn’t get past the current level.
I’ve made some wonderful connections with people, through the comments section on YouTube, and it’s transformed my life. I learned how to be a great communicator and all of that, and all it did was burn me out and it never made me happy and it was so stressful.
Now I’ve discovered my phone and iPad, it’s almost like, welcome to my world. This is what makes me happy, not being out socialising and doing the things most other people like to do. We’re all different, and this is what I like to do. I could go deep into why I like it, but does everybody have to explain and justify what they enjoy doing?
If you think your daughter is wasting her life away, maybe you think I’m wasting mine away? I think my son and some other people think that about me. But they don’t realise, I’m working hard, so I can live like this. I will soon be working for myself, but as part of a group of other people all doing what I’m doing, so I’ve got the best of both worlds, I’m working according to my needs and still in a type of workplace, it’s just not a traditional one, which doesn’t work for me.
And when I’m not at work, I like to do what makes me happy, such as walking all day long beside a river, or staying all day in bed, with just my phone. I don’t think I’m wasting my life away, I think I make the most of it. It’s just that my way, doesn’t look like most people’s, because I’m not like most people in that way, I’m neurodiverse, and not nuerotypical, so my life isn’t going to look like most people’s, from the outside, but it’s the same on the inside. When I made my life look like other people’s, doing the things they did, although I did it, it made me feel so lost and empty inside. Now I live according to my needs etc and although people think I’m depressed or wasting my life away or something because I’m not doing what they’re doing, I’m actually having the time of my life. Online is one of the best ways in the world for me to communicate and have as my kind of companion and I know it’s not for everyone, but it doesn’t have to be, it only needs to be ok for me, and it is. Everyday I’m proud of myself, for not only getting through the years when I didn’t have a clue what I was doing as I was undiagnosed, but for how I’m learning, new things and ways of being, that makes life easier and more interesting for me and others are helping me and I’m helping them where as before, I thought I was all alone. Going on line and playing games and watching YouTube videos changed my life, for the better, so it’s hard for me to see it as s waste of time. As I’m coming out of my burn out I’ll spend less time on line and more time out walking etc but I’ll be working online, because that’s where I fit in best. But I’ve enjoyed every minute of my time discovering and enjoying YouTube. I don’t have a television, I’ve never watched television or films, apart from old black and white films, I don’t read much fiction, I read pretty serious stuff, so YouTube videos became my life for a while, I think they saved me from going insane as well.
So I guess that’s my answer. Is there anything that she likes to watch specifically that you could expand out, for example, if she liked games with trains, could you begin by going to see trains, do you see what I mean. My grandson likes an adventure game, so I turn all of our days out into an adventure, and even though I can see at times that he has moments that he’s thinking about his iPad, I distract him quickly and he’s ok because he knows as well, that as soon as we get back to the car, he gets the iPad and he can have it for the rest of the night. So he’s always really good when he’s with me and I like to give him some freedom of choice in it as well, and he especially likes parks, so I try to get us somewhere that has a park and he’ll play for hours then, and I get to just be. So that’s how I work it with my grandson. The rest of the family don’t do as well with him, but even when he cries before bed, I don’t mind that, because I still do it, even as an adult, I cry when I’m tired, and if left alone to cry, I’m good, so I just let him cry while the others try to get him to shut up in one way or another and they all seem to end up upset. I can’t understand why they just don’t let him cry. I burst out crying in the coffee shop yesterday as I was finding it so hard to do my work, but nobody acted as if it was a problem, so I don’t know why they all think his crying is a problem, it’s just our way of expressing ourselves at that time, it doesn’t mean we’re sad or need anything.
Anyway, best of luck. I think girls can be trickier than boys, or at least that’s my experience and I had a son, so I have more experience with boys, if there’s a difference, I’m not sure, but he isn’t autistic either, mums of autistic kids deserve medals, I’m not sure I was cut out for that so you probably already know way more than me on how to get around things. Have you read about Temple Grandins story or her mum speaking? They might be worth checking out.
Excessive use of a computer/internet can cause severe anxiety and depression.
Autistic people are very prone to obsessive behaviour, and with moderation it can give a purpose to someones life. The fact she is moody and does little else does suggest to me that the computer has become a substitute for something in your daughter's life that is either missing or there is some sort of thought that things will get 'better' if she continues.
Like any addiction, it can become harmful. My understanding of how this may happen is as follow and s, as someone who has been very prone to anxiety and depression from my teenage years (although home computers were not even in the realm of science fiction when I was your daughers age!)
Initially there may have been some excitement, and this excitement becomes less as use continues. So use increases to try to get a repeat of the 'hit' that there was initially. The person becomes moody as other needs are not being met. Eating may become disrupted,, other interests are lost. And real physical changes take place as the brain releases chemicals in order to cope. The brain has 'pleasure receptors' which react to chemicals released by stimuli that cause pleasure. Love releases oxytocin for example and dopamine is associated with many pleasures. Whatever the addiction, the initial pleasure is caused by release of chemicals in reaction to this.
And if the stimulus is not great enough, these receptors crave more and more as the brain gets used to the stimulus. And if more is not forthcoming, you get the reaction your daughter has had - moody, reactionary, arguments, further leading to crying and sadness, the symptoms of withdrawal.
You have to try to break this cycle, but doing it by sudden withdrawal coujld make things very uncomfortable for her. Depression and anxiety is an illness, it is not simply a case of telling someone to 'buck their ideas up'. You could try to divert her into something else, even if using the computer. If she is using social media, also try to find out if she is harbouring what I will state as 'unhealthy desires' or being bullied.
I am not a great believer in anti-depressants, but for short term use they may help. Longer term can lead to addictions. The best way might be to find something else to stimulate your daughter, try to think of something your daughter really likes - and promise her a treat. Try to do things with your daughter and not let her lock herself away unsupervised for long periods. You could find time to play computrer games with your daughter as this would at least mean you knew what she was doing.. I assume she is autistic, but this still doesn't mean that she should be allowed total exclusion from the family unit. Some 'quiet time' is ok as long as it does not become excessive.
The following article may help explain this:
Firstly, is your daughter autistic? It may be self-evident as you've posted here, but you don't explicitly state this. All you have referred to is her moodiness, her shouting and the arguments - all of which could be talking about any average girl of her age. If she is autistic, then it may well be that the 'life' on her tablet or laptop is the only kind of life that she can understand and make sense of, and feel comfortable with. If this is the case, then turning off the internet is definitely only going to cause arguments, because you are denying her the one thing in her life that might make sense to her, or relieve the anxiety she feels. Can I suggest respectfully that you might wish to consider a different approach to the issue and not just treat her like any other child. Have you had any input from behaviour therapists?
Having said all of that, kids wasting their lives by being glued to screens seems to be the norm now. There can't be many 12 year olds that don't have a phone or a Tablet. That's the way it all seems to be going. I don't blame the kids for that. They're just doing what everyone else is doing, and if they don't do it and their friends do then they're at risk of being left out, excluded, bullied.
My cousin has an autistic son of 24. He also has learning disabilities and is non communicative verbally. He spends all day long on his tablet. It's his world. Your daughter sounds like she's not in that category, and I assume she's in mainstream school. Maybe she's just doing what all of her friends are doing. Or maybe it is the only thing that makes sense to her. In which case, you really need to do more than simply punish her (which is what you are doing by switching off the internet). You need to accept that she's different from other children, and as such will need different levels of support to manage her behaviour. Have you discussed this with her school? Does she have a SENCo assigned to her? Work with a behaviour therapist might be able to get her to a situation where she has 'internet times' assigned and she can learn to cope with expecting the internet to go off at a particular time, or after a particular period. Such learning will probably take a long time to achieve, though. She may well need time to assimilate this change in her life and get used to the idea of it. Again, it isn't the same as dealing with a non-autistic child in that sense. You can't just take something away and expect her to deal with it.
I know I'm a long way from being a child, but I spend a lot of my time on the computer at home. I use several forums, both for autistic people (like this forum) and for my hobbies and interests. It allows me a level of interaction with other people that I can control and feel comfortable with and it also allows me to meet people (virtually!) that I would never have met before. Usually these are interesting people doing interesting things around the world, not people posting photographs of their garden on Facebook or making silly comments on Twitter. I spend time on Google Earth viewing interesting places around the world. I stream films and documentaries and listen to music. I keep up with the news around the world. I join in discussions. I also keep a blog and have a YouTube channel. These are all things that are important to me, and they all happen to mean being on a computer for several hours a day. I don't think that I'm wasting my life this way, though. I'm enriching it and also finding an outlet for my work.
Have you asked her why she's playing so much? If she really enjoys it, this could be a way in to learning about computers and coding, which is a massively important industry. Playing a lot of computer games is not necessarily "wasting her life away" - this wouldn't be the point of view if she was practising violin or playing football all day. Online gaming is huge - if you aren't familiar with it, it might be worth reading up about it so that you can talk about it to your daughter. You can't just switch out of special interests.
You say she is doing nothing but playing online games. Is that what she is doing all of the time she is online? I am asking this because of the dangers of social media, which can enable online bullying and manipulation of youngsters and cause depression/anxiety and negative behaviours. Have you talked to her about social media, gaming with other people she hasn't met, and how to stay safe online? Have you set your internet settings appropriately? (I don't know about this myself, as I don't have young kids, but you can get advice if you're not sure)
Gaming is not a problem in itself, as others have said. But she will need to spend some time each week interacting "off line", to learn the people skills she will need in order to make friends at college, get a job, etc, so it might be helpful to sit her down and explain this. If it is put in a way that shows you want to help her develop and improve her life, rather than it looking like you are punishing her, she might be more favourably responsive.
Finally, as has been suggested, maybe you could do some gaming as a family to get her out of her room and interacting with you and her brother? Perhaps get a gaming console you keep in the living room, with a few games you can all play together?
Gaming disorder (not to be confused with gambling) is actually recognised as a mental disorder and can be diagnosed in the same way as autism. It has a number of co-morbidities, such as autism, bi-polar disorder, ADHD.
Playing games in itself is not a sign of any disorder - it is when the playing becomes an addiction, takes the place of other activities and causes moodiness, depression, anxiety, tiredness etc. The sign that it is a problem is when it is taking precedence over other things, such as eating, sleeping, and normal day to day activities.
Apparently about 3 to 4 % of 'gamers' are affected enough to be diagnosed. And such addiction should not be dismissed as something harmless, it causes real problems in life.
There is a forum which may be more suited to answer questions about 'quitting' a computer gaming addiction:
One of the things that most autistic people do not like others saying is 'everyone feels like that' when we describe what it is like to be autistic. I don't think we should say 'lots of people like video games with no problem' when someone fears they or someone close to them might have a problem. Yes there are degrees, but like drinking, it can get out of hand. And when it does, it is a real problem not solved by making it seem trivial.
That’s interesting Pixiefox, that you think, or suggest, that all people will at some point, have to follow the nuerotypical pattern for life, such as making friends, going to college and getting a job.
I can understand that coming from a neurotypical person but find it odd coming from somebody who is autistic ~ unless, of course, you also naturally follow this type of life plan, which would, of course, make it not strange at all?
It’s just not a life plan that I’ve ever followed and I just presumed it was just what the majority of people did, and that I clearly, was simply not in the majority, but then when I got my diagnosis, I thought it was a nt thing, but maybe it’s not, maybe it’s a lifestyle choice that appeals to lots of people, nt and nd alike and that’s it’s not so much about being nt, but more about a lifestyle choice that is simply most appealing to the masses, nt or not ~ which would explain everything . Thank you. I learn so much from what people share on here
Your view is interesting too, Blue Ray. I thought that most ND people wanted to have friends and a job. I do have a partner,,but lot of other people post on this site saying they don't have any friends and are lonely, so I thought it was common. I also like having a part time job and I understand that many other Aspies not currently working have a desire to work. I am a very independent soul, but like also having a 'soul mate'. And I have enjoyed traveling when I was younger, which was a great experience but one has to step outside of one's comfort zone and leave their home/bedroom sometimes to have these experiences.
Yeah, I've never had that life plan in my mind; getting into a relationship, getting a job, getting a house, going on holidays, getting a car, going to college, getting married, none of those things have ever been part of what I desire in life. That's probably why I can live on the streets, homeless, and be no less happy than when I am living in a house, because those sorts of outside things don't interest me or they're not what's most important to me.
I've never watched television as a hobby or got into group things like supporting a sports team or having a favorite pop singer or whatever - I loved Trevor McDonald when I was a kid!
If I want to know what a place is like, I'll go and live there. I don't get the same pleasure as lots of people do through watching travel programs on travel, etc, I would rather just go an live there and find out for myself what it's like and I have eventually come round to the idea of having a job, but it's based on what I do anyway, on what I love doing and it will simply enable me to move around the world much easier, not that I couldn't before, but it will make it easier with a regular income that I can sustain long term.
So no, definitely not all nd people want friends and a job. Friend's, I've never really understood, not in the way I see nt having friendships anyway and I have tons of friends that are on my type of friendship terms, meaning they know I don't keep in touch consistently but they hear from me, now and again or I'll visit them on my travels, which will be even easier to do when I get my tiny house on wheels.
I've never understood working and what the big fascination with it is, although I have had jobs, but only when I've wanted one and only if I've enjoyed it, I will soon leave if it doesn't serve me in any way. I've never really been interested in the money side of things, I've always got what I wanted without having to think about money. I've never really wanted a one to one romantic relationship, I never understood those, although I do now and I can see they're a great thing for a lot of people, but not me, they're not really my thing. I suppose I do enjoy friendships, but to me, every person on the planet is a friend, I don't know how to separate people out into categories, so I have lots of friends and make new ones almost every time I leave my house, lol, and some of those have turned into long term friendships but friendships aren't something I crave or desire, and anybody who knows me, knows, I could happily live on a desert island, all by myself and I would still be as happy.
But I've never thought the friendship, college, job, house etc etc model was the only model. I would be upset if I thought it was because I would be worried and sad for all the people who can't get those things even if they wanted them and I couldn't live with that level of distress, but I've always known it's not the only model and I when I got my diagnosis I thought it must be because I'm autistic that I don't live to that model but it seems that lots of nd people live according to it also.
That's why I love this site, I learn so much.
My take on this is that it would be more about developing skills in order to increase or maintain options, rather than prescribing a particular path through life.
It's certainly an interesting topic in itself, though - I think there's certainly a conventional pattern for life, but I'm not sure it's an NT preference so much as being governed by the dictates of our education system and economy (although we might consider the origins of these).
I would find this a good thread on its own tbh. The point at which we transition into the "real world" (college, jobs, relationships) proves problematic in my family.