Posted by: concerned mother | 2004/10/24

internet addiction

Can someone please advise me on internet chatting and porn sites. My 19 year old son is a first year student living on his own during the week and comes home for weekends. He doesnt have a girlfriend and has no interaction with other students. He is a shy young man and spends weekend nights on the internet. I suspects that he chats and or goes into porn sites. I do understand that it is a natural thing for a 19 yr old young man to be curious about these sites but i am worried that that might become an obsession and an easy way not to get involved with other young people. How can i raise this issue with him without making him feel guilty? How can i get him to be more sociable and going out to places with other students? I have thought of subletting his flat so that he is forced to share it with another student and possibly cut off our internet connection for a while to see how he intends spending his weekends. At the moment, he sits up all night and sleeps during the day..please help and advise..I am not a conservative mother at all..but find this a very sensitive issue to raise with him.

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Our expert says:
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Dear concerned mom,
It's far from unusual for young men or women to become much involved with the internet, whether or not they also choose to access porn or char sites. It happens ; and if they have access at university / school or work, they have the possibility of access without parental supervision, unless their host has imposed some restrictions.
And yes, some folks do get a bit too absorbed, not simply in sexual material, but in the interconnection chatting and relating to others, which can fel ideal for a shy person, as online he can be whoever he chooses to pretend to be. This can actually, to some extent, be a setting for him to develop some conversational skills and confidence.
The important distinction, as Belinda suggests, is the issue of whether it becomes an addition to and facilitator of a real-life social life ( which would be good ) or a substitute for it ( which would not be so good ).
OK, you feel sensitive about raising the question. How about yourself starting to show a much greater interest in the internet and how it can be used ? Chat with him about this, how he finds it, what he finds good and not so good on it, what he would recommend to you, and let him show you ways to explore the web yourself ( though I gather from your having posted a question here that you're probably rather familiar with it already --- in which case swop experiences. Try some of the chat facilities, and ask him what he'd suggest you try, and discussing your own experiences can be a way to open discussion about his experiences.
Similarly, just talk calmly, not naggingly, about how you worry about him appearing to be solitary and isolated, and explore with him what options he has to join clubs / societies / activities at University, to meet others with similar interests/ Avoid putting too much pressure on him, guys like this usually turn out just fine, if they're able to take their time about getting comfortable with other people and forming relationships.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Concerned mother | 2004/10/24

Thank you cs and belinda..i feel so much better..I will follow your advise and ask him to show me how to get around on the internet and chatting (good starting point is the fact that i am a single mom and would like to try it myself..laugh)
Good luck Belinda...just know that your input was very valuable to me .. you helped a concerned mother today and i will think about not subletting his flat..

Reply to Concerned mother
Posted by: Belinda | 2004/10/24

Well, here is my humble two cents' worth: i think you should talk to him about it first. This can become a comfort zone in a sense (chatting etc) in that it's a convenient excuse for real, healthier human contact. I think it would be a good idea to cut off the I/'net connection for a while (after you've explained to him why) BUT I definitely DON'T think you should sublet the flat to force him to interact with another student.
As someone who is also very very shy, I know how extremely stressing it was for me to share a room at university with another girl. It didn't help me to be more comfortable around ppl. It just was too much pressure.
I do think you should talk to him about this 'obsession' and unhealthy lifestyle, however. You wouldn't be able to make him feel guilty if he doesnt already feel that way! (makes sense?)
Good luck!!!

Reply to Belinda

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