Letting my preteen daughter text has helped her join the in-crowd, but her ADHD makes it hard for her to control her digital impulses.
by Kay Marner
Some of you may find this hard to believe, but I’ve never had to set limits on my daughter Natalie's use of electronics. The hyperactivity that comes with her ADHD is extreme enough that she's never been interested in sitting still very long -- at the computer, the Wii, or with her Nintendo DS. Until recently, that is.
At age 11 and in fifth grade, Natalie doesn't have a cell phone, but most of her friends do. One of them helped her download an app on her iPod Touch that allows her to text, just as if she were using a cell phone. Suddenly she's become just like her 15-year-old brother, Aaron, and every other teenager I know -- constantly, endlessly texting, as well as downloading new apps, taking photos and sending them to friends, watching videos on YouTube, and searching for songs on iTunes.
Unlike her brother, Aaron, Natalie's ADHD-inspired impulsivity and poor social boundaries have landed her in texting trouble -- despite close supervision. For example, she’s spent money on iTunes without permission (yes, I changed the password) and texted a girl after I expressly told her she was not to. She’s also bugged people by texting nonsense words or just texting about nothing, for no reason, over and over again.
My approach has been to take Natalie’s iPod Touch away for each violation, for anywhere from 24 hours to a full month, but that hasn’t been very effective in helping Natalie learn to follow the rules. The next logical step may be to take her iPod away indefinitely, but I don’t want to do that. I really want her to learn to use it appropriately. Communicating via texting is practically a social imperative among her peers, and I don't want her to be excluded from the social milieu.
So, what kind of limits should I set related to texting? What rewards or consequences might help Natalie learn to text appropriately? How does your child with ADHD handle the privilege of having a cell phone and being able to text? TIA!