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Computer Time for 9 and 12 year olds

(9 Posts)
Lassie71 Thu 02-Jun-11 20:37:39

Sorry I've posted this in 2 places already, but I'm trying to find the right place to post, and hopefully now I've found it.

Hi, I'm new here and could really do with some advice please.

I'm mum to 2 girls, of 9 and 12 years. My eldest is high functioning autistic. They both have laptops. They both have DSi's.

Both girls have continual online access. Whenever they are not at school they have access to their laptops.

Youngest is not much trouble. She is not dependant on it, plays computer games, Wolfquest, Feralheart and very occasionally visits her Facebook page with just a couple of schoolfriends. She plays in her bedroom and we remove laptop on school nights between 10:30pm and 11:00pm. She is happy to entertain herself in other ways though, is artistic, plays with her toys, reads etc. However her computer time is gradually increasing.

Eldest is totally dependant on the computer. She is very clever in this area, and has an incredible understanding of it. She can write Java script and is knowledgable beyond her age. She is mainly on an american site with many other kids and finds it a good way to interact being autistic this comes hard. Again she has constant access and would be on-line 24/7 if she didn't need to go to school or sleep. Being autistic sleep has always been a problem and she and we have allowed her, to use the computer as a crutch to get to sleep. She would often be awake until midnight before the computer and the problems were hell for all the family. Now the computer entertains until she falls asleep. This can be until 1 or 2 in the morning.

We are now experiencing problems though. Lack of sleep is making her schooling suffer so we have removed all internet access on school nights. This is early days.

But more seriously, I work full time and my husband is a stay at home dad. During this half term holidays I have been contacted by my cousin who tells me she's been using the 'F' word on facebook. I've also been contacted by the owner of american site advising that she has been wrecking havoc creating junk accounts to harrass admins and members, she has been using proxy servers and opening fake email addresses at sites I've never even heard of. She has also been associating with someone who broke into a server and released personal ID details. I guess this is hacking accounts. I don't not know how involved she was with this, but the site owner has infored the police although not implicated my daughter.

I am extremely concerned over this and know that I am just as responsible for allowing her unlimited access unsupervised.

I am here really for advice on how strong my punishment should be and what sort of computer time should be allowed for children of this age.

At present the laptops and DSi's are consficated but I am not sure how long my eldest daughter will cope without this.

We all have clearly made big errors of judgement here and I am looking for help in getting things back track.

Many thanks


Marne Thu 02-Jun-11 21:30:44

Hi, i have a 7 year old with Aspergers who spends far too much time on the pc, she has unlimmited access to the internet, has no other hobbies (i have tried) and no other interests sad. We are trying to cut her pc time down but not get rid of it altogether, i think she likes the social side of it (talking to other children) as she struggles to do this in real life (face to face), i don't want to take this away from her or she will feel even more lonley than she does already but i feel she needs to do other things as well as use the pc. Maybe you could schedual a small amount of time after school for pc but not just before bed (maybe half an hour to an hour and then do something else)? i think cutting it out completely on school nights could cause her stress and make your life harder. Also, such a big change in routine could upset her more than doing it gradualy.

Lassie71 Thu 02-Jun-11 22:15:32

Hi Marne

thanks for your suggestion. I have thought long and hard about this and your post has helped. I think from tomorrow we are going to allow supervised access only. So only downstairs in the lounge and not at bedtime at all. See how it goes. Thank you for replying. smile

leiela Fri 03-Jun-11 10:42:02

My asperger's boy (age 11) is allowed 1 hour a night on his pc not after 8pm, and 3 hours a day at the weekend. It's always been like this because i knew from the begining that he might be prone to disappearing off into it.

Unfortunatly while it does stop him he hasn't made him socialise more ... he just disappear's into his DS instead. sigh

If anyones got any suggestion's as how best to encourage asperger's children to go run jump and play with other kids without litterally forcing them im all ears.

I will though i do monitor which sites he has access too though. So i know he's not randomly surfing sites that are too old or unsuitable. I also closely monitor what hes upto on facebook, all friends requests for example have to be approved by mum or dad before he's allowed to accept.

pinkorkid Fri 03-Jun-11 11:59:32

Hi Lassie,
As Marne and Leila say computers are an all too familiar issue for anyone with a child with asperger's. On the one hand they are great because they allow a sort of socialising that they are comfortable with and they give a break to everyone else in the family as they are all-absorbing. Most other leisure activities require a large amount of parental support to be feasible. On the other hand they are even more addictive for them than for their neurotypical siblings and children with asperger's are in some ways more vulnerable.

As your dd is such a whizz with computers some of the software available for setting time limits and controlling access to particular sites may not be sophisticated enough to let you control her use and keep her safe but you could try. Also if it does work it makes arguments less because it's set up in advance. The one we use is called computertime - link here:

IndigoBell Fri 03-Jun-11 15:49:54


I don't think the issue is the amount of time she spends on the computer - but rather what she does with that time.

She is also clearly very cleaver. Being a computer hacker is not at all easy. So why don't you channel this talent and let her write really good computer programs.

Enroll her on an online 'learn to program' course (in C# if you can find one smile ) and then she can spend hours on her computer, enjoying herself, and learning something very useful.

Else if you don't like the idea of a distance course, just get her to teach herself C# and write her own program or computer game - but this will take more initiative from her.......

PM me if you want......

pinkorkid Fri 03-Jun-11 22:19:03

link here: to another programming language she might have fun with - it starts at a very simple level, a bit like slotting pieces of a jigsaw together but can be a lot more sophisticated. There are examples on the site of the type of animations etc you can produce.

Lassie71 Sat 09-Jul-11 21:03:43

I've been away for a while but want to thank everyone for their advice here. The withdrawal of computer by 11pm has actually worked well. She has now taking to rocking herself to sleep, which is a much better method. Although I'm not sure what it is doing for the bedsprings, or what the neighbours think as the bed squeaks extremely loudly.

We have actually bought her some website designer software and she is currently using that to make logs and banners which has totally gripped her interest. she is also ripping from our dvds, converting them, and making videos. Beyond me but she's made some great videos which we are proud of so I just wanted to thank everyone here for the advice.

mumslife Sat 09-Jul-11 23:19:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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