Zoom school and screen limits, help!

My 12-year-old (very strong willed) 7th grade kiddo has a lot of negative stories about herself as a student from some trauma she had a while ago and now she's really hating school. Having witnessed her these last few weeks of Zoom school, I can tell she gets into fight or flight when the work gets hard, and she spins out and starts really hating on school and herself. It takes her sometimes several hours to recover from these episodes, and homework remains unfinished and she just gets further behind.

YouTube and her online gaming friends are the only thing that matters to her now, and she fills every non-school minute (and even many school minutes) with screens.  I have started sitting next to her and prodding her and gently redirecting her, but now that the academic work is starting to get harder, it's getting more challenging for her to focus and/or feel a sense of accomplishment. She's started blowing off homework so she can get back to gaming.

Over the summer, we relaxed screen limits with the caveat that as long as she takes care of her responsibilities, it's OK, but that's clearly not happening. She doesn't want to exercise, or do art, or even hang out with some of her friends who are not screen obsessed. It is getting scary. Last year she started cutting herself over screen battles. She is on medication which is helping but she still has pretty intense outbursts.

Clearly I need to put limits back on screen time, but curious to hear from other parents who have dealt with this situation what has worked and what hasn't. I am thinking of having her earn all of her time after attending and focusing on class and finishing homework, but how to ensure she doesn't just blast through to get to the screen? Also she's used to watching a short video between each of her Zoom classes and she says they help her de-stress which they do, but also they distract. How to avoid battles all day long here? And most importantly, how might we help her feel more empowered as a learner? Thanks in advance for any insights.

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I am an educator (25 years) and will be for first to admit "we" are not prepared or trained to teach students online.  I have taught online classes and watch as most of my fellow instructors are doing a terrible job. This is not the job they were hired to do.  Teaching online is much different that face to face teaching. I can completely understanding what your daughter is going though.

Not sure why you and so many other parents are against screen time. Screens and the Internet have to be the best tools for teaching we have ever had. Doesn't your daughter's teachers suggest YouTube videos or web sites to help her with subjects she is having trouble with?

As for the excessive game playing would you say she is addicted?  Have you mentioned this with her physician?  There is amble anecdotal evidence which links neuroleptics drug which result in additive behaviors to games inlcuind gambling. It could be the drug you daughter is taking is compelling her to do the behavior you don't want her to be doing. Look online you will find hundreds of cases.

Something else you might want to consider. Is your daughter good at game playing? She could be an athlete. Internet gaming is soon to be an Olympic sport and kids kids her age are making millions per year playing online games? You might have an Olympic internet athlete. If she is good Universities are giving full four year scholarships to Internet gaming athletes.  Internet gamers are making more money than professional hockey, soccer, baseball, and basketball and soon football players.

In this time of covid and social distancing screens are the way "kids" are connecting.  The online gamer community is can be very supportive, especially the female gamer communities. Instead of punishing her for something she likes, why not encourage her? 

Like your daughter, I like watching short videos... think of them as a recess between her classes.  It's a way of letting her mind decompress.

Hope this helps and you give what I have written some thought.

I am so sorry that you are struggling with screen issues.  I know how hard it is dealing with screen time, especially now with all the kids on screen all day for school and cut off from their friends. Have you considered hiring a parent coach?   I know of a great one who helps parents of teens struggling with  screen time battles.  She has been a great resource for me in discussing a range of parenting challenges.  You can get more information about Jenny, parent coaching and her approach on her website, www.truenorthparentcoaching.com

Best of luck to you!

I just figured out how to totally block internet connection from my child’s device at set times using our Eero router app.  That only allows viewing of whatever tab was on the screen prior to the pause, but any refreshing or clicking out will take that page away as well. To us, taking away internet takes away a lot of problems.