The struggle is real. Not for myself, I can actually live without my electronic devices happily for a time and get busy with life, whether it be family time, Bible studying, my art especially, or just relaxing and listening to music (ignore that you need an electronic to do so – I’m talking face in screen addiction).
The issue I’m having is with the young boys in my house, my son and foreign exchange student. Especially the student, who is from Japan.
We found that Haru, the student, was constantly on his phone, nearly every minute of the day. According to International Fellowship, students are to be limited to electronics use of about 90 minutes a day.
We’ve been rather lenient, understanding that it’s hard to be in school and hear a foreign language all day. We were understanding that he would want to speak his own language afterwards. But it’s gotten to the point of ridiculous.
This weekend we sat the boys down and established stricter rules. We were tired of them both being on their phones a lot during the school week. And their grades are suffering as well. Haru also is so busy on his phone, he’s making zero effort in becoming part of our family and learning anything about American culture.
The rules were laid out for them. They were to get 1 hour of phone time, 1 hour of TV time, and 1 hour of video game time. Quite literally that’s double the amount prescribed in the paperwork given by the foreign exchange program, because we’re kinda understanding that electronics are kinda the way of the world.
They also are to not take their electronics to their rooms at night, otherwise, how are we to know what’s going on? They’re to be left downstairs.
They acknowledged and accepted these rules.
Ha! Ha ha!!
Complete disregard for the discussion this weekend, all because on Mondays my husband travels to an apartment a couple hours away for work and I’m left in charge until Thursdays. And I have trouble speaking up to enforce the rules with Haru, and he’s learned this. This is due to anxiety and my soft spoken nature.
Monday came and he completely ignored the rules and used his phone constantly and took his electronics to bed. This triggered awful feelings in me of inadequacy and self loathing. I felt awful that I couldn’t do something simple like tell a child to follow rules. And I felt anger that he seems to follow rules when my husband is home, but he breaks them when it’s just me home. Disrespectful.
Tuesday morning I woke up with determination to say something to him. This was after the night before I was upset and bemoaning to my husband about how I couldn’t get past my anxiety to confront the man-child about his behavior.
I firstly asked Haru if he understood the rules that we discussed over the weekend. I wanted to make sure the lack of following them wasn’t a misunderstanding (I kinda knew it wasn’t). He confirmed he did understand.
I then said that I felt he did not follow the rules the previous day and that I expected him to adhere to them. I then told him that he needed to leave his electronics downstairs at night.
He then agreed.
I had partial compliance on Tuesday. He left his phone downstairs and has seemed to use it less, but still way too much. And apparently snuck on to the video games a half hour early, which I didn’t know until last night, when he did the same thing and my son pointed it out to me. He also has yet to leave his laptop downstairs.
Yesterday (Wednesday), he completely disregarded the time limits and was on his phone constantly and also had snuck on the video games early and played late.
This morning I woke up at 5am to sounds of voices, what turned out to be my son talking to his dog. I felt compelled to get out of bed to talk to him and shared what I felt God wanted me to share with him, on an unrelated matter – related to some recently revealed depression in him.
When I got downstairs at 5am, my son was in front of the TV with his breakfast. I had to ask how long he’d been getting up early to sneak extra TV time and his response was “a few days.” Which basically meant since the rules were laid down over the weekend.
He complained that it wasn’t fair that breakfast TV time counted for his hour and I saw his point and said I would talk to his father about allowing for a half hour of breakfast TV. But I told him none of this getting up at 5am just to watch extra TV because it cut into his sleep time.
Shortly after 5am, Haru himself also came downstairs and snagged his phone and disappeared with it back upstairs until it was time to leave at 7:25am.
I asked my son if Haru had been getting up early as well to get his phone and he said that usually he has been getting it at 5:30, which basically allowed him 2 hours of phone time in the morning since the kid basically threw clothes on and was ready for the day (I don’t see him shower very often but I’m not going to judge his hygiene).
Honestly, I’m beyond peeved with Haru. The blatant disregard for the rules has really upset me. When I had spoken to my husband back on Monday about it, we discussed that we would talk to him again and if it continued, we would then be forced to contact International Fellowship and discuss his problem following rules. This would affect us being able to host him here, as we will not host a child who is disrespectful and does not follow household rules.
I talked to my counselor yesterday about my issue. After talking to my OCD coach about it that morning as well. It’s really frustrating and been causing a lot of stress for me.
My counselor has helped me lay out a plan to talk to Haru this afternoon after school, when my husband is home to be support. We discussed how to talk to limit his defensiveness and use “I feel statements.”
After last nights gaming and this morning, I’m a bit more angry with Haru than I was during counseling. My practice talk is kinda out the door because my “I feel” statements have changed a bit since I’m experiencing quite a bit of anger.
I do have concerns that he doesn’t feel apart of our family and has been using his phone because of homesickness, and I wanted to broach that subject and ask what we could do if that was an issue.
It honestly feels though, since his usage has escalated on all electronics since the rules were put in place and then I said something Monday, that his behavior is rebellious in nature.
I get it, I was 16 once. I didn’t want to be told what to do either. I thought I knew better than some (many) adults.
I do want to let him know though that part of our rules though are because we feel like he’s not experiencing American culture and not integrating into our family. We had only used grades as an excuse, and that he would get more chance to explore the area. Further honesty I think would be beneficial.
I also want to be straight forward and tell him today that if he continues to do this, not follow rules, particularly when my husband isn’t home, it’s going to put his stay here at risk. I want to let him know that we don’t accept rule breaking and feeling disrespected. We would not accept it from our own son, his own repercussions would be the loss of his electronics completely. Since we can’t take away his phone entirely, our recourse is a different avenue.
I’ve been praying for this young man but it does feel like he’s hardened himself to outside Godly influences. The school he attends with our son is a Christian school, though he actually has no religious background at all and does not believe in any god. I had hoped in time to start discussing his beliefs of the afterlife and such. We didn’t really want to spring all those questions on him before he felt comfortable with us, but at this rate it’s never going to happen.
I have done some research on Japanese culture but it’s hard to find really good firsthand information. Do the youth not respect their mothers, only their fathers? Is this the norm, or is it because I’m a soft spoken person who isn’t always harping about rules?
Has he mistaken my nature for me not caring as much about the rules? That doesn’t make sense, because I asked him Tuesday morning to please follow them, wherein then he seemed to go out of his way to disregard them even more. After agreeing to follow them!
I’m just a bit mixed up inside about this because of his behavior. Is it electronics addiction that he’s refusing to let go of or absolute rebellion?
With my son, I realize for him it’s electronics addiction. He’s responded much better to feedback and discipline though and hasn’t rebelled as such. Other than wanting to have his morning breakfast TV time.
Is this today’s culture? Must the youth (and mature) have their faces glued to a screen of some sort, for the greater part of the day? Is it society’s fault here? We have digitized books after all and many modes of entertainment require a plug.
As a family, we have a large assortment of games that are not electronic. They’re sitting in our living room, waiting for Haru to either agree to play with our son or to initiate the play time. After the first week of Haru’s arrival, my son stopped asking him to play because Haru would play a bit, then make an excuse to take a break, or then be on his phone during the game! I understand my son’s frustration.
I understand now why International Fellowship told us there is a problem with electronics usage in Japan, if this young man is any indication. But, that kinda falls on the parents’ shoulders. He told us his parents don’t put any restrictions on him. But, according to the program rules, which he agreed to when he signed up, students must follow host family rules.
What is today coming to? My heart hurts for the future this foretells. Especially because with this young man, you can’t do any activity with him, without him holding his phone down at his side and him wanting to use it. I see it with the young people at work here in America too, always on their phones when they don’t think anyone is looking.
Smart phones were a fantastic invention but I feel they will be our demise as an entire worldwide society.