Social Isolation

Updated on July 23, 2010
M.S. asks from Davis, CA
12 answers

I'm worried about my 17 year old daughter. She spends all day in her room with her lap top. She can spend 10 to 12 hours a day looking at her laptop. The majoriy of time is spent watching movie after movie, or tv series after tv series. Some time is spent on social networks, but I don't think it's much. I'm a single mom, and we seem to always be broke. (The lap top was a gift from my sister). She says it's too hot outside (which it is) or there is nothing else to do. I have told her she needs to volunteer somewhere, just so she'll develop other interests besides movies. She has a High School equivalency (she wouldn't go to school), and now works part time in a nice office (Thanks to Obama stimulus money). We have a close relationship most of the time. We do go to second hand stores, or grocery shop, but I really live on a tight budget. I'm just worried about her social isolation and that her emotional growth is stunted.

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answers from San Francisco on

I was the same way at that age, except that I had one very close friend and a boyfriend. I was a bookworm and a video game nerd though and when I wasn't in my room reading or playing a game, I was out with either my boyfriend or my best friend. After high school I married my boyfriend and my best friend and I grew distant.

Some people just aren't very social and pushing them into situations where they are uncomfortable could just cause more stress than any kind of benefit they'd be getting by making small talk with strangers.

If she has a job then I wouldn't bother her about how she spends her free time. If she didn't have a job, that's another thing all together.

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answers from Sacramento on

Have you sat down and talked to her honestly about your concern and her future? Tell her nicely that you think it is best she reduce the time she is on-line and watching movies etc, Suggest she and try to get out more and do things, get together with friends, volunteer, exercise, take some type of lessons etc. Does she have any other interests or career ambitions? If so, she may want to talk to a counselor at a local community college about her career interests and what it would take to get into college . You and she could also visit some state colleges and talk to couselors there,it may spark her interests in furthering her education. Do you think there is any chance she may be suffering from depression? If so I would encourage she talk to a psychologist for counseling. You are a good Mom for being so concerned and wanting to help. Good luck.

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answers from San Francisco on

Hello M., It really sounds like you have a lot of support and input from the responses I read. I would like to add my 2 cents worth as well.
I have a son that is socially backward due to learning disabilities. He can't relate one on one to people yet he has a blog that gets as many as 550 hits at at any given time and has had college professors respond to him for in put. So see what she is really doing on the computer -- having family in law enforcement I am told a lot of ugly stories of things that happen to kids of all ages.
If she has a dream, then help her achieve it, the local library has many things free, and the local adult school often has grants that helps pay for classes so that she learns skills.
**I actually had my son seeing a doctor becasue I was worried about the hours spent on the computer, in his room, and not interacting with people-- after several sessions he flat told me that the only thing wrong is that kids learn to text instead of talking even on the phone, and that facebook has changed the way people interact. Since we are active in a church he challenged me to get our son into a club of some kind outside of church, and to go to one specail activity a month with people his age at church.** He got seriously involved with Japaneese Animation and thrives on it and that is what his blogs are about.
He is great about volunterring at a nursing home near us, and with Special Education Pre School children. She could get on a local city committee as they are always looking for people input and sterring committees she may make an entire world of differance to something.
With so many people being out of work and so many single parent families she isn't being set apart becasue of that - trust me my kids were the odd balls becasue they had the same set of parents and I am a strict mom that they were born with. In one child's class there were only 3 children tht had the same set of parents.
Please do not be at all surprised if at 17 she looks at you as if you have 2 heads for voicing your concerns and trying to make her different, just tell her its always better late than never and get over it... that she will understand.Just keep telling her how proud you are that she is able to find work in this day and age of people that have masters degrees and are working for Taco Bell. Good Luck, and let me know if you think she'd be interested in my sons blog to read.
You are doing great mom for being so concerned and wrking on a solution to the situation. Good Luck

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answers from Houston on

I think your suggestion of volunteering is a good one. Could you volunteer with her somewhere to get the ball rolling? Maybe an animal shelter, a nursing home, or something of interest to you both. At the very least it would be quality time together, giving back to the community. I don’t know anything about your daughter so I don’t mean to presume to understand her motivations. However, as one perspective, I went through a phase of social isolation and I came to regret it later on. I always felt like I cheated myself during that time. I am not a social butterfly by any stretch of the means but as I got older I wished I could have that "wasted" time back to do something more meaningful or productive. I also felt like I had taught myself to be lazy which felt like a hard habit to break. I believe goal setting, success and social graces come easier with practice. I will never be a hugely social person but I can interact with people with ease and confidence which are valuable skills in a professional job setting. With that said you should talk to her and express whatever concerns you have for her. Maybe through dialogue you can both come to mutually agreeable ground. Sometimes the first step is the hardest. Good luck to you both.

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answers from St. Louis on

How about a church group with kids her own age or Volunterring at your local hospital, animal shelter, boys and girls club. Go play bingo at your local church of VFW. My son sounds alot like your daughter since he's been helping others this summer his personalty has really started to shine and he has more confindence in himself. Not having alot of money dosn't matter look around your area for free things to do and then go do them together. Encourge her to further her education we don't have alot of money either but my daughter is in her 3rd year of nursing school there are ways to get things done. Ask what she's interested in and find away to do it. All my best to you both.

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answers from Honolulu on

Does she have any goals? Dreams of doing something? Life goals and hopes? Does she have friends? Hobbies?
Since you have a close relationship, perhaps nurture these roads in life. So she is looking into life planning and her future...
Or perhaps you both can take up something together.... something fun or a reading group or some kind of hobby....

good suggestions here.

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answers from Dallas on

She reminds me of myself at that age. I am now a very socially and emotionally healthy adult with good communication and positive relationships. My passion is online marketing and I've done very well for myself.

Perhaps you could turn the movie watching habit into something more productive? There are tons of great online courses she could take on film editing/ social media marketing/ database programming/ etc. that could prepare her for a successful career. She's not doing anything else anyways, right? And - you are a single mom so that means more stimulus money from obama will pay for it.

Good Luck!

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answers from San Francisco on

Are you sure all she is doing is watching movies. There are many traps, even for smart kids, with chatting and "friendships." I hope she doesn't have a web cam. She can have a movie playing when you walk in, but have an inappropriate chat session with someone.

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answers from San Francisco on

I have two daughters and money is tight for us too since I lost my job two months ago.

I think your suggestion of volunteering is good. This summer I started a no computer/phone after 6pm, even for me. This forces (in a nice way) face time and we usually end up going to walks or some kind of outside play. Draw her out of her room by things like making smores.

Their father (we are not together) alternates computer/tv days.

Whatever you choose, be consistent. Once the firmly set, resistance goes away.

As for what she currently does on the computer, show some interest in it. Find out what shows she is watching and watch them too. You may find something you like too. Or you may find she is not watching tv at all.

Whatever you do, good luck.



answers from Modesto on

She sounds depressed. She also seems unable to handle social interaction .Whether this is due to her lack of learning social skills, anxiety or depression is unclear. The fact that she refused to go to school shows that she was/is unwilling for whatever reason (shyness?selfishness-i.e always wanting her own way?depression?) to learn intermediate or advanced social skills. The fact that she refused to go to school is a big clue that something is wrong. Lots of kids don't really like school but few refuse it. It appears she has the upper hand in your relationship. I think you need a psychologist or psychiatrist to get to the bottom of what is going on and determine if it is a social/anxiety problem, depression or normal behavior. Working part time in an office is fine at 17 living at home but what is she going to do as she gets older? You need to look into her isolation issue and resolve it so that she can live successfully later in life. Even if this is normal and she is just shy, she will need to make some minimal adjustments/concessions in how she lives in order to function better on her own. I sincerely hope you can get her to see someone but I suspect it will be tough and she will refuse (as she did school). She is still a minor though. You have a small window of opportunity before she is a legal adult at 18. Good luck to you.



answers from San Francisco on

when I was a young teenager, I spent alot of time in my room due to depression (not knowing about it, though). I was always shy and anxious in social situaltions. It might be worth looking into about the depression. good luck to you,



answers from Sacramento on

It sounds like depression and social anxiety. You really need to get her to a psychiatrist.

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