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My 11 yr old can't stop playing or obsessing about his mobile

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Ironliver Thu 22-Sep-16 09:44:47

My 11 yr old son started secondary two weeks ago. All summer he nagged and pleaded for a mobile... I held firm to the line and said no. Once he had begun... He is having a shakey start and on a couple of occasions it would have been very advantageous to have been able to contact him and him me. I relented and got him a phone... Since then he has been obsessed with it. After a couple of days I had to take the phone off him as he was leaving in the morning at 100% charge and coming home having caned the entire battery - which clearly to me indicated a lot of gaming was happening, and subsequently not much else. Following various conversations about the reasons for the phone having been got, tears from him about having it back, tears about not managing to make friends, the phone being sneaked back by him and lies being told to both me and the husband by him about this, all games being uninstalled and parental controls put in place on the device and then him merely begging to reinstall them, I have to say I am completely confused about what to do.

Before this we have always been quite fierce about 'screen time' at home, never taking electronics out and about for precisely this reason - that he and his two younger brothers have always showed the tendency to be obsessive about any machine, time played etc... He just doesn't seem able to moderate himself. After any prolonged playing the behaviour in the house is always horrendous, with them literally climbing the walls, fighting amongst themselves for little to no reason, sleep being effected and on the whole having a very negative effect.

The whole matter has become a point of torture for him and for me. I am worried about this and fear I have lost perspective on general screen use, and now moving to an extreme point of view about the possible solutions to suit us all. I want him to be able to have the phone, I want to be able to contact him, I want him to be able to contact me or the husband, I want to be able to trust him with this and him not take advantage. I realise that away from me I will never know quite how much gaming is going on. He is my eldest and so have not faced this before. Has anyone got some advice?

FlissMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 23-Sep-16 20:24:05

Hi Ironliver, we think you'll find some useful support in Parenting, would you like us to move your post across? Let us know and we'll be happy to switch it.

Ironliver Sun 25-Sep-16 12:41:42

Yes please.. That would be great.

FlissMumsnet (MNHQ) Sun 25-Sep-16 21:15:35

All done for you now. Goodluck flowers

quicklydecides Sun 25-Sep-16 21:21:23

Why do you say you don't know what to do?
You clearly know what to do. But it's hard and do you want someone to give you an easy option

But the easy option is the shit parenting option, just ignore it and let him do what he wants.

But, don't do that, you know that's shit.
Take the bloody phone off him and go buy a cheap text and call phone only. Give him the simple phone. The most basic that argus sell.
Help him to make friends by supporting his attempts to get involved in sports and activities.

PrincessHairyMclary Sun 25-Sep-16 21:22:49

Depending on what phone it is I wouldn't be surprised at the loss of battery life. My smart phone barely last the day and I hardly use it.

Look at the schools Mobile phone policy. Ours are phones have to be out of sight and turned off during the school day. It amazed me last year how many parents were texting their children during lessons. And what they look at on their 3G and show each other at break times is awful year 7s showing each other porn etc hence the crackdown on mobile phones this year.

If he needs a phone for communicating with you get a cheap and cheerful one that can text and call.

MammouthTask Sun 25-Sep-16 21:30:08

I've had a similar issue with dc1.
The only way I have been able to deal with it do far has been to install a system that control how long he spends playing in his phone and when.
So he gets one hour a day, can't play when he is at school (issues with him playing in class) or at night (he was getting up earlier and earlier to play)

On paper dc1 understand very well why he can't play that much. He knows he us better in himself not playing. But these devices are addictive and done oeople are more sensitive to that than

quickly I think you were unnecessarily harsh. Even when you 'know' what to do, it is very hard to handle as it is a constant source of tension. Dc1 and I would have 'arguments' about that everyday even though I was sticking to my gums and not deviating from my line.
Dc1 also had massive issues re what sort of phone he had. It is very clear he was made fun of for having a simple phone, not a smartphone, to start with. That, in itself, doesn't help integration.

amistillsexy Sun 25-Sep-16 21:30:13

I'm afraid you've made a huge mistake in getting the smartphone. As others have said, a simple text and talk phone would have sufficed, but to change phones now will be a hard thing for you to do, I suspect.
I would want to know what's going on with friendships and as others gave said, I'd be looking at increasing opportunities for him to socialise without phones attached.

00100001 Sun 25-Sep-16 21:35:02

Take the phone off him.

Give him a basic cheap Nokia that knky does text messaging a and phone calls.


dlnex Sun 25-Sep-16 21:46:03

Hi, just sharing with you, as in similar situation, not sure if it's helpful.
I did the same, secondary school starting and i-phone (birthday pressie) all in one go. DD had not been pestering for a phone, we agreed when it was going to happen and she accepted that. It's all been so much change, with school and phone - there has been a bit of pressure. I have a couple of 'rules' - phone use is stopped during homework, and half an hour before bedtime. She has some out of school activities where the phone can go, others it's not practical, so it's phone free time. School has strict policy. I made it clear that she will get my basic phone and I will have her i-phone if any detentions because of phone use at school. She is on it an awful lot, but I work with successful, supposedly highly intelligent people who are on theirs quite a bit too. She had a lap top for a year before that - it has become discarded other than for home work. One incident with social media and friends - I expect there will be more. It's a contract, unlimited text, phone time, data is 1G - again another rule was not to exceed that - it will not be topped up....

JayDot500 Sun 25-Sep-16 23:21:32

Sadly, it's true about the friends. I've observed my two 12 Year old nephews, and 12 Year old niece (all from different parents) and now I can't even truly stand by my resolve to give my child a basic phone until mid teens. They are all very intelligent kids, tops grades and made it into selective schools etc etc but it's just amazing to see how friendships are borne through time spent chatting over whatsapp, or sharing snaps, while aunty just raises an eyebrow and remembers when life was much simpler.

Basic phone to school, smart phone for home (where we can control usage). But my nephew thinks I'm going to make my son unpopular by doing that so...confused

JayDot500 Sun 25-Sep-16 23:34:23

I should add that my son is only 8 months now, so I have time. But when I read your post I felt I had to share my observations because for your son, the pressure to keep up with it all is real!

00100001 Mon 26-Sep-16 05:50:58

I have no clue why people give children smart phones. At what point does an 11 year old need a device that costs over £600 and allows them to go on the internet unmonitored?

At most they need a basic text and calling phone. Or if you insist on a smart one, then a cheap £40-60 android is perfect!

00100001 Mon 26-Sep-16 05:52:26

jaydot maybe your nephew can come round and sort out any potential fallout? Perhaps he's offering to replace it if it gets stolen or broken? ;)

DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen Mon 26-Sep-16 05:58:52

Screen time just like any other computer. So he has it for school and then an agreed amount of time after school then it's left downstairs at night so it's not in his room.

Ds didn't have a smart phone until he was 12 and even now at 15 he has to leave in downstairs at night.

lovelyupnorth Mon 26-Sep-16 06:25:31

I think you had me at "fierce" on the screen time. I think it's like anything too strict and it back fires. Saying that our Dds didn't get phones till 13 and then only cheap Samsung ones. If they wanted anything better they had to buy it themselves. Which they've both done. It's amazing how much better they look after stuff when they have to work for it.

Both Dds 15/14 fairly relaxed about screen use as it's not novel to them as it is to your son. As above friendships now involve Snapchat and iMessage.

Also our school let's them listen to music on their phones in some lessons.

As it seems to have been an issue throughout with you about screen time he can't regulate himself. So I'd take it off him for a period and set some new rules.

CauliflowerSqueeze Mon 26-Sep-16 06:37:59

Install an app that lets you control when he can use it.

DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen Mon 26-Sep-16 06:43:23

Oh and I made my ds sign a contract about not having his phone over night in his room and if he sneaked it then it was removed for 48 hours.

Optimist3 Mon 26-Sep-16 07:06:13

I'm strict about screen times because of all the studies on screentime and health, sleep etc. Also for social reasons and balance. We have gone into secondary years with clear rules. We dont have that app but will look at it though!

I think your son has become addicted and so he's essentially gone cold turkey!

Rules -

all kids phones to be in the kitchen cupboard 8pm to 8am. This is to help wind down. Wanted to avoid late night crap.

No phones at the table when eating a meal or when we have guests.

Phone to be kept in bag at school. It is just for emergency phone calls (and taking quick photos of friends pulling funny faces!). What are your school rules?

No playing games on phone while walking home. Eyes and ears need to be aware of roads and cars.

Maybe you tell your son his battery must be at 95% after school or its confiscated for two days? It seems to me his screen addiction is effecting his ability to make friends.

Chores must be completed first
at weekends. Phones then given out.

Rule breakage means confiscating for two days.

Ciutadella Mon 26-Sep-16 08:00:21

The app limiting screen time sounds a good solution. Unfortunately i think in some schools not having a smart phone will 'mark him out' as different from his friends, even in yr 7 - i know that doesn't apply everywhere - and if your ds is finding it tricky to make friends, not having one won't help. (And i know this is terrible, but it is how things seem to be at the moment! Recent thread described how all the yr 7s just go on their phones through break at that school.)

I wonder if one of the problems is that as he says, he is finding it difficult to make new friends at school and is taking refuge in his phone as a comfort. Yr 7 can be very stressful for some dcs. So as well as focusing on limiting screen time, can you help him with that - encourage him to join school clubs, get involved in an out of school activity and generally reassure him that lots of dc find sec school tricky at first? We 'trot out' these suggestions on mn but i think they really can help, although not a magic cure-all!
Good luck - i think phone addiction can be a real problrm for dcs as well as adults, so i can see why you want to limit it!

Optimist3 Mon 26-Sep-16 08:18:39

Not having a smart phone is fine in both my kids secondary schools. I think kids and adults fall into the peer pressure things often.

JayDot500 Mon 26-Sep-16 10:50:40

001 haha! I shall be proposing that to him next time!! This particular nephew likes to handle (show off) his phone, therefore, it nearly always smashes twice a year. We talk quite openly about things and we ended up at this conversation where I told him why I worried about getting a fancy phone just for him to parade to others, and I thought it also would make him vulnerable to thieves. So this is when he told me I'd make my son unpopular and that kids always smash their phones sometimes so I should get it insured grin. They have all the answers, don't they...

MammouthTask Mon 26-Sep-16 11:13:44

My dcs have the app linked Abu e and it works really well.

I had to laugh at no smart phone until they are 15yo.
Both of them started with my old phone. No apps, no internet.
Within months, dc1 had bough s smart phone with his own money. He spent a hell of a lot money IMO, all of it on his side, just to be able to have a smart phone. He still doesnt have 4G and connect to the Internet through wifi but he won't be seen wo it. He is in Y8 and having a smart phone was THAT important to him.

Last comment. Talking to both my dcs, phones never in bag but in pockets at school.
Everyone knows what sort of phone you have and which version. Some children (inY8!!!) already have the iphone7....
A lot if not most of the time at break and lunch is spent 'talking' with friend whilst playing on their phone. So not having one does create some issues socially.

I fully agree about not following Kerr pressure etc. But
1- most of us, adults, do. Let's think about fashion and tv programs etc etc
2- I do t think it's just an issue with peer ores sure with phones and electronic devices. There is a strong element of addictive behaviour too (which is a different kettle of fish really)

MammouthTask Mon 26-Sep-16 11:16:29

Btw the app mentioned above has a facility where you can set the max time to Siena on it and the child can 'earn' more time by doing certain activities (that you choose).
This has been a surprising positive thing with dc1 who is very happy to do X and Y to earn more time (for us they are all activities he was doing before such as reading or going out and play xx sport but these had disappeared in favour of phone/tablet/apps)

Pumpkin2010 Wed 28-Sep-16 11:35:16

I feel like I'm having this constant battle with my DS1. He's just started secondary school. It has been helpful for him to have it (he suffers with anxiety so can contact me before & after school if need be).

I will let him have it after school but discourage him from being on it too long, teatime it is gone, 2 hours before bedtime he is off it, and obviously if he has homework etc, that gets done before he can check it.

Although I'm not best pleased with the amount of time he spends on it (I'd prefer he's never on it), I feel he has a good balance. He's out a lot playing with friends, has after school activities, and if we're out for the day as a family he's not allowed to take it. You have to stick to your word though. It's a constant (tiring) battle confused

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