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How can I help my daughter give up the habit of chatting on the net?

Q: My 15 years old daughter seems unable to give up her habit of chatting on the net with her friends despite repeated reasoning by me. I want her to concentrate more on her studies, and cut down on telephone expenses. I have gone in detail about the expense angle, telling her that if we can cut down on it, I will have more money which I can spend on buying some of the things she wants. She is not unintelligent or terribly unreasonable but she lapses into the habit all the time. Should I detach the modem which will effectively prevent her from connecting to the net? She seems to get depressed when she is unable to chat. Also, she enjoys long conversations on the phone. How should I tackle this problem? What should I do if she gets terribly depressed if I stop the chatting altogether? She is normally of a cheerful disposition and I don't want her to get grumpy and unhappy especially in view of her impending board exams next year?

A:I think your daughter is old enough to realise that she has to plan her time to include lessons and games and friends. Help her to make a detailed daily time table and see how much of her time is spent in chatting on the net. Explaining only in terms of how the money (now spent on calls) can be spent better is obviously not having the needed impact. She must give you an undertaking that she will not spend more than 50 - 60 minutes a day on the net, chatting with friends. If she is not amenable to the suggestion, you will have to shift the computer to a central room, where there will not be much privacy for her as some other members of the family will also be in and out. If this is not possible, you will have to say that she is on trust to keep to the time limit. When the next bill comes and reflects her long hours on the chat-line, tell her that she must be prepared to have the modem cut off. Of course, she will sulk a bit, but I cant imagine that it will do a great deal of harm. Children have different levels of sensitivity and you will be the best judge of how strict you can be. Explain to her that her performance in the Boards will practically open or shut doors for all future decisions. She should do as well as she can, without feeling over-pressured. Connect her present activities to her hopes for the future. She will probably tell you that she is discussing her homework with her classmates! Be firm in your rules for her, but have a touch of gentleness and a bit of humour in your interaction. If you can get her father or others in the family also to support your views, it would have a better impact. Her good marks in term exams etc will become a reward for hard work. But she has to feel motivated herself. You can only help it along. 15 is a difficult age anyway. It will be much better in a year from now.

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