What to Do with school/Or Child?????

Updated on February 25, 2011
M.M. asks from Chicago, IL
21 answers

My 13 y/o (7grade middle schooler) was in IB program last year with very vigorous curriculum, strict accountability and a lot of homework. He did very well at that school, teachers had great communication going and overall it was a great experience. Well, we had to move. For 7th grade now my son attends private school that handed kids computers in the beginning of the year (we paid for it!) and most of the HW is done on the computer. They call it – integrating technology. Well, first, we were trying to prevent our child for many years from using internet, games, social networking and computers in general (successfully, mind you, until this school just handed out those computers to them, second it is next to impossible for us as parents to control/supervise what my child does on the computer (he resist me looking over his shoulder and has been caught doing things online we do not approve of) but we cannot just ban the computer! Because he uses it for school. His grades declined. We have a lot of struggles and fights about it. We disabled all we can on that machine so he cannot chat and do other things, but still – we cannot control it all.
I’ve been to school numerous times. Spoke to counselors and the principal. They all are giving me sing-song about “you cannot control it all, you need to back off, your child needs to learn to be more responsible, and he needs to learn to be accountable himself…” Well, my child is just NOT READY for this. He is only 13! And if I see that he is not making the best choices I am not going to stand there and let him fail.
We went to therapy and the therapist knows about this issue at this school because she has many people coming to her with this issue! She said that the school handled computer usage very poorly and just handed them out to kids like candy!
We have PT conferences coming soon. Again, I have a laundry long list to each teacher to address. The counselors and the principal know me already and are handling me as a “crazy one”. Many parents unhappy with this issue but they all were smothered by the school’s attitude “it will work out eventually”.
I cannot change schools midyear. And we are too late to apply for next year to a new school! I am focusing now on getting my boy into a good HS. But I do not if I can survive 1.5 more years here! What would you do???? I want to help my child but he is resisting, not doing his work, playing when he should be working – and the school is backing him up! Please any suggestions!

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So What Happened?

Just some updates/clarifications. My son is not a "virgin" when it comes to computers. He used them before in school and at home for research and some age appropriate online games/educational learning. We never had this problem. Now I have a situation when he is doing HW forever because he has multiple windows open on Mac and gets distracted or just wanders off in a cyberspace or chats with classmates on the school webpage! So “HW time” becomes all the time. When I look over his shoulder he moves the pages, erases history, or just yells at me and physically fights me! His handwriting is horrible because he does very little. 99% of school work is on the computer, so I cannot take it away. He drop boxes things before I see them because they are incomplete. He does research for some topics and instead of writing in his words he copies and pastes! That is not learning. At home all of our computers use Windows and the school notebook is Mac. He cannot open some pages on the desktop. I get e-mails from some teachers about incomplete work and some only wait till the end of the quarter to tell us “Ah, he is not doing very well….”
The parents in older grades are CRYING because kids are on Facebook, Twitter and chats all the time! My son had a lucid moment after therapy and he said “Mom, I really do not want to go to HS to this school”. He feels like many kids are out of control and HE is not comfortable with that. I do not know what to do. We have generally nice weekends, do a lot with the kids, enjoy our time together… and then the school week starts – and I get this monster that fights me, curses me, hisses at me… What to do?

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answers from New York on

My kids aren't this old yet but what about having him do his work on a desktop computer in a supervised place in the house when he is misusing the laptop? I'd also talk with the other unhappy parents.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I basically think you are over-acting...Remember he is 13. I think that's an age to start giving him some responsibilities. What's he really doing? If he's looking at rated X things...you can set parental controls and insist that you need to monitor he activity. If he refuses..bye bye computer.

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answers from Kansas City on

Humm. . . . you may not like my answer but here it goes. Maybe some of his problem is the move at 13 years old in middle school. And your seemingly control of his every move. He's 13, he's rebelling.

My children also go to a private school. My 16 year old sophomore was also integrated into our school's laptop program but when she hit 6th grade. BUT because my husband is a geek, both kids had access to computers, even had their own in their rooms at an early age. There were (are) a TON of educational computer games and videos out there that the kids started using to learn math, reading, even history! They were given limited internet access and yes we monitored every key stroke for a while, all benign. But they were allowed access.

I sometimes think that when parents are so restrictive and do not allow certain things, the kids will go nuts when given the first opportunity. So not only is your son dealing with a school change during a very difficult time, but he all of a sudden has access to previously forbidden fruit.

Just my 2 cents worth, but you did ask the question.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I come from an extended family of computer geeks - I have two Computer Science degrees. Most kids in our family have their own computers well before 13. My 13 and 15 year-old nephews are already programming theirs using sophisticated programming languages and building new computers out of spare parts. My 8 year-old daughter has her own computer - sadly, she's not that interested in it yet. Technology will be part of your son's life at school, work, and home. There will be very few careers that won't require a knowledge of technology and how to use it as a tool. If he doesn't start learning that at 13, then when?

The computer itself is not the problem here. It's just a tool - for homework and many other things. You CAN control access to inappropriate sites with simple software. And you can encourage your son to use it as a tool to learn, research, explore the world, etc. instead of a toy. But sometimes it is a toy, too. If he misuses it, then only have him use it in shared spaces in your home.

Again, this isn't about a computer, it's about your son adjusting to a new school environment and approach, and him being 13. At 13, yes, he needs some parental oversight and direction, and also yes, he needs to take responsibility for his work and his grades. Taking away the computer would not solve the issues you are having.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Biloxi on

My son is 14 and I keep our laptop on the kitchen table - I always look over his shoulder at what he is doing. I have installed parental controls and I get a report from his user name that shows all the web sites he visits and he knows that I check this - doesn't matter if he deletes the history - the report tracks where he goes.

I also have a number of sites on the blocked list so if he tries to access them he just gets a blocked site notice. I have the internet security set to high so it blocks sites with an adult rating. Since I have Windows Vista I have set myself up as administrator and he has his own user account so there are many things that only I have authority to change. I can block out what times he can log on to the computer also.

Sorry - just read your "What Happened Now" - MACs also have internet settings that allow you to block pages, restrict access and set up users with different users have access to different things.

What operating system is his computer on? Check and see if you can block Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, etc. Can you set up an administrator account that gives you more control over where and what his user can access? Also check out Net Nanny - I have heard good things about that program.

Bottom line is this in your home, you paid for it and it is supposed to be a tool for school only. You have every right to put blocks and parental controls in place and require your son to use it in a public part of the house where you can monitor his activity. Its time to play hardball with the school - can you show them a list of the websites your son has visited that you object to - that may help get your point across. Do they have an IT person that can help you with this?

Don't let the school intimidate you for wanting to protect your child - you are his only defense. :)

Good Luck and God Bless

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Victoria on

Well, my child is just NOT READY for this. He is only 13! And if I see that he is not making the best choices I am not going to stand there and let him fail.

Why not? Failing is how we learn and the most successful people failed lots before they were successful. in fact it was the failures that made the success so sweet! Without the opportunity to sink or swim, you will never know what he is really capable of, but worse, neither will he.

I personally would hire a computer person to set up the computer for a 13 year old user. My guy charges about $150.00 to do this. Peace of mind for you and your son gets the opportunity to be responsible on his own without his Mommy looking over his shoulder. Also keep in mind though hormones are kicking in right now & he may be slacking in homework cause his brain is being derailed by hormones. My husband was an A student until the hormones kicked in & dropped to a C student until HS & then he maintained B.

Let him deal with his problem and find the solution for himself, let him sink right now while he is still in shallow water. If he isn't making the right choices, then he hasn't learned how to do so & that is a huge thing for him not to know in life. Encourage the right choices by removing those things he loves to do or have until he meets your expectations, just make sure your expectations are reachable.

Best of luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

My 13 year old has a computer and does homework on it and also talks with her friends on Skype and draws on it and plays games. I have told her that as long as her grades stay up I will leave her alone (with monitoring). I believe that this is the time to let her learn to be independent and figure out how and when to study as well as how and when to be social. If she fails now, we have time to catch her and redirect her. I hear many stories of kids being controlled all through high school and then when they get to college they are finally free and flunk out the first year. Better to learn to integrate the fun with the work in high school when the stakes are less high. I would just have an honest discussion with him that you understand he is growing up and need to become independent and that you support him making his own decisions, BUT that if he wants to be treated like an adult he will have adult responsibilities like getting the work done and keeping up grades and being pleasant to his parents.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Is this computer use your only complaint with the school? How about his classes and such?

I say, have a set "homework time" with the computer. When homework time is over, the computer should be in your possession.

And it isn't up to him to not have you looking over his shoulder, it is up to you. He shouldn't call the shots or lay the ground rules.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

I would encourage you to focus on the now rather than 1.5 years from now. You are paying the school, you have power. You can either mobilize other parents (as you know you are not the only one) or you can move him to a different school. I'm sure you know, 13 is a critical time for kids. It is more important that he feels successful in his choices NOW rather than get in to the best high school. I'm not sure why you would be too late to apply to a new school. Private schools are hurting, your dollars are in demand.

Otherwise, be the "crazy" parent, with the school and your son. If he resists you looking over his shoulder, too bad. The computer should be in a public location in the home and used as a tool. Period.

I get that there is going to be a natural separation (I'm a therapist, I get that), but 13 is not the year to hand a child a computer and say, "Have it. And by the way, do your homework, too." That is not teaching responsibility or choice. The information is too overwhelming. The trash is too overwhelming. Rebelling is one thing, but the computer is a huge responsibility and best to monitored by adults.

You go with what you know to be right for your son!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

why not limit to computer usage to the kitchen table ONLY and the only way he can use it if he is AT the kitchen table meaning if he is caught using it else where YOU sit with him at the kitchen table while he uses it or in his room or where ever

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Frankly, I think part of the problem is.... he's 13 and he's in a new school. I doubt it's really the computer. Kids hit that age and sometimes something in their brain clicks and they start to become different kids. They don't do what we expect, etc. It's part of growing up.

I strongly believe you're crippling your child by being so vehemently against a computer. This is how the world works today and if you don't let him figure it out, he'll be leagues behind other kids his age. In case you haven't looked around, computers are pretty much a necessity these days and if you don't know how to use them, you won't get far.

Your son is 13. He's not a baby. He needs to stretch and grow and figure things out. He really should be able to do his laundry, make his own lunches, clean his room and handle his own schoolwork without nagging. He NEEDS to do this on his own. If he goofs up, then he will learn to budget his time better and quit wasting it. If he doesn't figure it out now, he's going to have a rough time figuring it out in high school. (It's better to struggle with it now than in high school, when the grades really count.)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

My first graders use computers. This is the new generation. He's 13. Most 9 (and up)olds are on the computer. It is up to parents and children to take responsibility and use computers only for intended purpose. I suggest sitting right next to him until HW is done. Do this for a few months and also incorporate consequences if he deviates from what he's supposed to do. I know he is your baby, but he is also 13 years old. He should be on the computer, and should be taught what he can and cannot do.


answers from Modesto on

I think you need to sit there right with him until all of his homework is finished and then let him play on it for awhile. Work before pleasure. This is not an issue about the curriculum it's an issue that your son is not minding you for some reason. Whatever diciplinary tactics you are currently using are obviously not working. You know your son more than anyone else does. He needs to know there is a positive pay off for doing his homework on time and a negative pay off for when he doesnt. Ask him what would he do if he was the parent and his kid wasnt doing his homework. Maybe his own answer will help you figure out just what he needs. I think you need to talk to him more so you can see where his head is at. You are trying to control him and teens hate that. They want you to "understand" them. And you can only get there by talking to them and "knowing" them. The arent our little babies anymore when they hit puberty, the begin to become their own person and sometimes we have to get to know them all over again as if you just met them. Face it like that, rebuild your relationship with him so you can open a door of communication that works for your entire family.


answers from Las Vegas on

I read the other posters who have good advice so I won't comment on that topic, but as far as the school, is there a way to change schools? I know it's the 21st century and blah but it kind of sounds lazy that they use the computer for all their students homework.


answers from Bloomington on

Ask him about his goals in life. What does he want to be? Then make sure to stress with him that the decisions he is making now will follow him forever. If he doesn't do well in his current classes, he may be behind in HS, which means he will not even be competitive with his peers when applying to college. It is sort of sad that there is so much pressure to perform, but that is reality. Just don't push too hard or he will resist even more and resent you for it.



answers from Redding on

If this is such a problem, why can't you get rid of the computer at home?
Many, many kids do not have access to computers. That's why they have them at school so they can work on projects there and learn how to properly use them.
Let them fight with your son over looking over his shoulder, etc.
I'm sorry, but you CAN yank the computer.
There are such things as libraries and encyclopedias as far as research materials. There are also things called typewriters that people use every day in the business world. Strange, I know.
I am shocked at how many kids don't know how to use one.
Buy a cheap electric typewriter so he can type his assignments or better yet, make him write them out by hand and then type them at school during study hall or after school.
Frankly, I am discouraged by the way some parents actually believe their kids can't live without the computer. And, if your school is acting that way, then they can provide one for him on their time.
And monitor him.
My son has a computer here, but not at his dad's. He does some homework, but I don't have Word, so he e-mails to himself and then formats it in Word at school and prints it out.
He just had a huge final in world history and I made him handwrite the entire assignment before even allowing him to type it. And, I made him turn in both the rough draft and the copy he printed out at school.
His teacher was in shock.
She had never seen a parent make their kid do that before and guess what? He got an A plus extra credit for basically doing it twice.
It might sound mean, but he won't forget a single thing he had to look up and not only hand write but type.

Believe me.....just when you're thinking you can't ban the computer....if your son is abusing it in any way or doesn't want you checking what he's doing.......you most certainly CAN ban the computer at home.
Like I said, there are plenty of kids who don't even have access to one at home.
They make due just fine.

Maybe it's time to get "old school" on his little hiney for a while.

Just my opinion.

Best wishes.



answers from San Francisco on

I know this is hard. The technology keeps changing. My husband & I were just discussing - how long will it be before the kids text books are on the computer? We saw a news story where a school is part of an experiment for eigth grade algebra. Three classes have a traditional algebra book. One class has an iPad with the text book on the iPad. It also has additional items to help them learn the material. They want to find out if the kids learn better using the computer. My husband thinks that in 3-5 years the text books will be on the computer. The good news is that the kids won't have to carry the heavy books around. It's also cheaper to buy the books for the computer than traditional textbooks. So we need to figure out how to teach these kids how to use the technology correctly. So your child at 13 needs to learn how to handle the computer responsibly. If he doesn't then there are consequences, like bad grades. What consequences do you have for bad grades? He is better off learning these lessons now. Bad grades in middle school and learning from those grades is better than bad grades in high school. For many years we parents have been told to monitor the kids, put parental controls on the computer, etc. The technology has out paced those strategies. Now we have to teach them the dangers and the good about the technology. The controls are going to have to come from inside them, not what we do to the computer to keep them from things. Facebook can have a down side. But look what this technology is doing in the middle east! It's allowing horrible dictators to be removed from power! We have to acknowledge the good and teach about the bad. I heard recently that college drinking is starting to decrease, one reason maybe facebook. Someone can take a picture of you, post it on Facebook, and now you may not get the job you really wanted. Better to not have that beer in your hand! Therefore you are not drinking. I think you deal with it now or pull him out of this school and deal with the same issue in high school. A lot of his secretive behavior is due to his age. Teenagers value their privacy. They are actually oversensitive about it. Decide where the limits of his privacy is. If grades are bad, you get less privacy. If the grades are good, you get more privacy. Good luck! It's hard.



answers from Chicago on

Why are you too late to apply to a new school next year?
Anyway, then sadly here is what you have to do. You sit there, wait for him to finish his homework away and take the computer. Pretty creepy I guess, kind of old fashioned, but that's the way we used to do things. I did suggest something like that to a teacher when a young boy was licking the keyboard and she looked at me horrified as if that were a very strange idea. I do not know what happened after that. She handled it some other way. I myself feel the punishment should fit the crime. If someone is taking advantage or abusing a particular object like this, then I feel it should only be used for its intended purpose and then put away.He won't like it but he will perhaps begin to respect you for it. Perhaps worth a try.



answers from Cumberland on

Academia is a very liberal world. When my children were in private school-and it was about $65K/yr for the five of them-I rode those teachers like Seattle Slew-stick to your platform-you're right-just because a teenager is able to resist the temptation the internet holds-doesn't mean he will. I, too, was the "crazy one". When my ex took the children out of private school-I was in a parent teacher conference (at the local liberal high school) and security was called-I guess I went a little.. .whatever-you have to be the advocate-no one else will-unless you hire one-I'm pulling for you-and show your letter to your son. He needs to know how much you care about him and his education and his future.



answers from Spokane on

If you're *this* passionate about his schooling, what about homeschooling him?



answers from Oklahoma City on

I don't understand, I guess if I didn't like the policy of the private school I was sending my child to and it was so bad I had him in therapy I would not be wasting my money on such a lousy school. If they are not a lousy school then their policy must be working.

Either take him out or let him learn to be responsible. Thirteen is old enough to know right from wrong and make the right choices.

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