Fifteen-Year-Old Screen Addict

Question

Our 15-year-old recently threw a fit, including punching, cursing and breaking things during the following incidents:

1) Took away make up after sneak purchase of $200 worth of make up without our knowledge.

2) Caught her using father's account to purchase clothes without our knowledge.

3) Turned off her computer when deliberately told her not to be on Discord while studying. (She has habit of just chatting without actually putting in work).

What do we do to stop these outbursts?

Answer

Thank you for your question,

You are describing the behavior of a drug addict, but in this case the addiction is to screen-based devices. The temper tantrums, the aggression, even violence, the general sociopathic outbursts, including the stealing, the obsession, all indicative, without a doubt, of addiction. This is extremely serious, I have to tell you. Electronic devices are the greatest of contemporary threats to our children's mental health. Take all electronics away, permanently. It's vital that she understand, YOU are taking over her life because she is demonstrating an inability to act responsibly, make responsible choices. Move the computer to a place in the house where you can supervise her when she's on it. Let her know that if her behavior doesn't normalize by the time she's sixteen, there will be no discussion of a driver's license, and she will not be allowed to get in a car with one of her peers. You will drive her where she NEEDS to be. Those moves on your part will cause her behavior to worsen, as does an addict's when an addictive drug is taken away suddenly. That will be the test of your resolve. If you don't feel you can deal with the pain of her recovery, then prepare yourself for at least three more years of this, until you can legally emancipate her. For the duration, I strongly recommend that you contract with one of my coaches. You are going to need support and counsel for a while.

John

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