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Right now, I'm a 15 year old student who lives in Australia. In the past I've had a history of not managing my time well, often slacking when I was supposed to study or finish my homework on my laptop. As a result my parents had been particularly watchful whether they let me on my laptop and are rather restrictive, which I've gotten used to and can work around.

However, a little after the start of this year that restriction suddenly increased, and now the only single time I am allowed to go even near my laptop is if I have a school assignment that requires some form of digital research or software, and even then they literally sit behind me and stare at me to make sure I don't go off track. The only time I'm actually allowed to go on and do my own thing is on the weekends, and even then for a duration of two hours in total.

This has been extremely frustrating as I've started to break those old habits and actually started managing my time and concentrating on tasks. I've gotten Cold Turkey, a program which blocks distractions to help with productivity, and I use it regularly. I have a number of useful resources online as well which I know have greatly helped with and improved my studying, but I'm even cut off from those. Whenether I try to reason with them, they just say that I've been looking at a screen for too long, and when I show them the resources I've used it had no effect. The main problem is with my restriction I can't actually prove to them I'm trustworthy, since the times I'm actually on are so little it has practically no effect.

How can I convince them that I can be trusted now?

For a bit of clarification, I come from an Asian family, so I understand their concern to an extent.

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    Related question about teenagers, the Internet, and trust: interpersonal.stackexchange.com/q/2541/102. – HDE 226868 Mar 4 '18 at 1:35
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    I think potential solutions may depend on what caused the sudden increase in restriction. Can you elaborate on that? You say that your habits were just a general tendency to slack, with no extreme incidents, so what might have caused such a sudden change? – Jared K Mar 7 '18 at 15:54
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As an Asian myself, let me tell you...there is no hope! Mwa hahaha! jk. It'll take a long time to re-establish trust, but it can be done!

As you've stated:"I can't actually prove to them I'm trustworthy, since the times I'm actually on are so little it has practically no effect."

You're right; you can't re-establish their trust in you by demonstrating your "proper" usage of a computer, at least not directly.

Gain back their trust by being reliable and honest with other tasks (chores, curfew, etc.)

Don't try to do everything all at once, but start by say being 20% more reliable with laundry duty, 30% more reliable with cleaning your room, and so on.

Here's some common situations you can use to your advantage:

Group Projects:

  • A week in advance, tell them, "Mom/Dad, I'll have go to [Friend A]'s house for 1 hour after school for a group project," stick to that time, and be back home in exactly one hour.
  • When they ask "What subject", "Which teacher", "Who's [Friend A]'s dad?",etc, answer them calmly and (if you can manage it) cheerfully. This will make it seem as though you have nothing to hide AND that you've become so good at managing your time, planning a study session is a breeze.

Passing by the grocery store on the way home:

  • Use a bit of your allowance to buy bread, steel wool or some other cheap item that you know for sure your home is running low on. If you have no idea, then just buy a snack you know your Mom/Dad will like. Mention you thought they might like it when you give it to them. Don't buy rice, bc Asian parents have specific brand preferences, and they'll call you a careless child for not knowing it. Plus it's expensive so they'll just KNOW you're up to something!
  • Alternatively, call up your Mom or Dad and very, very casually inquire if they need anything. I'd suggest if you're a boy, to call Mom instead of Dad, bc a lot of Asian moms have soft spots for their sons. (Same with Asian dads and their daughters in a lot of countries).

When the topic of your parents' home country comes up in conversation(Assuming you're the child of immigrant parents):

  • whether you care about hearing what happened in the year 19xx or whatever for the 50th time, at last appear genuinely interested. Ask some questions and listen to the answers. Your parents grew up there, so they think of it very fondly. Your attempts to learn to their home country will be appreciated.
  • If a topic related to their home country comes up in History/Social Science/any class, take you class notes and worksheets and ask your parents for more information. This helps your parents see your dedication to schoolwork, and makes them feel fulfillment as well because they helped you learn something. Bonus: if they don't feel like answering and accidentally yell "Go Google it!" then well ;)
  • Don't overdo this or anything else on this list--they'll definitely get suspicious and catch on to your evil scheme if you do!

Also

Appear to have a fixed schedule: -despite how flexible you made your schedule for the day, at least come out from your room and do a certain task(watch TV, do chores, whatever) at a fixed time everyday. This will show your parents that you are indeed managing your time well.

After about four to six months of sneakily scoring brownie points with Mom and Dad...

...start asking for more time on your laptop.

  • Start with REALLLYYY small "extensions" somewhat regularly--no more than 5 minutes! And only for when you're doing schoolwork, and nothing else! Then slowly over the course of the year, increase it up to half an hour.
  • Actually, start asking for extensions a little sporadically throughout those 4-6 months. When I say sporadically,I mean sporadically! No more than ten in total, unless something urgent comes up!
  • If all is going well, at this point your parents should not be supervising you as strictly. If not, um...well, ramp up the charm!

Don't give a reason for the extension as "I've been more responsible lately, so give me more time." Nope nope. They'll only catch on to your "ulterior motives" for what you did and call you a lying, manipulative & ungrateful child.

  • instead, mentally time yourself so that you know some kind of work is going to be just about unfinished, and ask for time to finish it up. And actually just use the time to finish it up.

Around the finals, I'm assuming there'll be more papers due, so a few weeks before the finals, tell them over dinner that you'll be needing more time on your laptop for studying, because of the papers due at the end of the term.

Hopefully after one year of being nice and showing your parents how responsible you are, they'll have a different view of you, and trust you more! Good luck.

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You're not alone in facing the pull of screens, and your parents are not alone in their concerns. One thing that can help teens and parents navigate these rocky waters is to keep the lines of communication open. There's a documentary filmmaker, Delaney Ruston, who made the film "Screenagers," and who provides weekly conversation starters about these issues, that you and your parents can subscribe to: https://www.screenagersmovie.com/tech-talk-tuesdays/. Here's an example:

When it comes to relationships, the most important thing one must bring to the table is one’s attention. Our attention is a precious gift that we decide to give or withhold from others.

In an app-development class, 4th to 7th graders were asked to define a problem and then come up with an app that offers a solution. Students often brought up two main issues:

  1. They often felt ignored by their parents who were distracted by screens.

  2. Kids would often walk into their parent’s rooms and hear or see inappropriate content on their parents’ TVs.

To solve the issue, the kids came up with the idea of a voice-recognition app that would temporarily freeze their parents’ phones whenever the child’s voice is detected. To combat seeing inappropriate content, mostly on TV after bedtime, the kids proposed an app named “Earmuffs App.” The app would sense when a kid came into the room and then would mute swear words and switch the adult content from the TV to a hideable phone or tablet.

So often we want our children to get off of their phones. But what if our kids want us to get off of our phones? I’m sure you’ve heard “mom, mom, mom “ while you’re reading an email, checking a text or reading an article. Our phones have become such a part of our daily lives that we often don’t realize how much we are using them. But, our kids know.

For this week’s TTT let’s turn the focus away from our kids’ use of technology and put it on our own. Let’s get our kids’ or partners’ attention with questions like these:

  1. What are some of the best ways I give you my attention?

  2. Do you find that I’m on my phone, tablet or laptop when you want my attention?

  3. What are ways you can tell that I am only half paying attention?

Your parents will likely lengthen the leash if they are able to see, over time, that you can take the initiative to walk away from the screen on the weekend before the alloted two hours are up.

It will take patience on your part. But it's worth it, if the end result is mutual trust.

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