I have a taken a leave from work for the next ten days or so in an effort to try to figure out what to do about Haru. I seriously doubt that I can do anything in such a short period of time, but at the very least I may be able to kick her butt out of the house and force her to go to school.
As I have been mention previously, I know what the problem is. Haru has a serious addiction issue. And although it’s not substance abuse (alcohol or drugs), in my opinion it’s as equally life robbing as substance abuse.
I TOTALLY regret giving Haru an iPhone. Since she wanted one so badly, I saw it as a good incentive to work hard in prep school so that she’d get accepted to a good private school. And for the most part, it worked. Haru’s was accepted to her first choice school. However, she had no real incentive to work hard to stay in junior high school, because she got everything she wanted when I bought her an iPhone.
Taking it away or severely limiting usage seemed like the obvious solution to get her back on track, and under normal circumstances that probably would work. But in Haru’s case, it only served to make the situation worse -MUCH worse.
Like any other addictions, she would go through pretty severe withdraw symptoms (headaches, loss in appetite, severe irritability and anger, nausea, etc.) It’s like trying to get an alcoholic to quit drinking. It takes a lot more effort than just removing the substance.
Haru is seeking counseling now to help get over this problem. However, Haru seems to always side track her counseling session so that they never discuss her real problem. She always talks about the symptoms, so the counselor deduced that perhaps she has some kind of chemical imbalance and recommended medication to get her emotional outbursts and her physical ailments under control.
I was so frustrated by this that I wrote a fairly lengthy email to the counselor describing what the REAL problem is: smartphone addiction, in the hopes that she would point that out to Haru and suggest solutions on curbing her need to use her phone all the time. But, again, Haru had somehow sidetracked the conversation at her session, so they only talked about the symptoms of the problem and not the problem itself. It’s as if Haru is deliberately doing this to avoid having discuss her real problem, partially because she is in denial; she doesn’t believe that she is addicted to her iphone. I am going to try to get them to discuss what is really relevant on her next session so that we can get on track to fixing this problem.
So what is Haru really addicted to? In the beginning, it wasn’t so bad. She was really into Kpop at one point so she just listened to music, and watched music videos on YouTube and TikTok. She did spend a quit a lot of time watching the videos, but she was able to put down her phone when it was time. She never complained or lost her temper when the time limit was up.
Then her interest changed abruptly, and she was no longer interested in Kpop and gained interest in Anime. This too wasn’t such a bad thing either, because she would often watch her favorite animes on TV, then go online to read about the back stories and find out when the comic books would be released. Again, not such a big deal, and she was able to distance herself from her iphone without any drama.
The problem really began when she started forming an obsession with a particular anime character, and the voice actor behind him. Her interest in the character seemed to shift more and more towards voice actor in a very short time. Although I thought it was a bit odd, it didn’t bother me too much; I figured that all girls will form some crush on some idol figures, whether it’d be boys bands or teenage idols.
Her obsession escalated very quickly, to the point where she had completely lost interested in cheerleading (the main reason for choosing the school she chose) and gained interested in volleyball -the sport her favorite anime character was involved in. I was not very pleased about about this, because eventually she decided not to join the cheerleading team, and decided to try out for volleyball -a sport she never played in her life nor had any interest in until watching this anime. But I decided to support her on this none the less. Perhaps she might turn out to be good at it.
Again, her interest shifted, and she began to show interest in interactive social media sites, which I was vehemently against. So much so, that I insisted that none of these apps be installed on her phone. However, my wife insisted that she was able to use LINE, so that she could talk to her school friends -as if she couldn’t do this at school. I wasn’t too keen on that either. I hate LINE and all apps like it. I think they are all full of online bullies and social media predictors -not to mention that they only serve to make it difficult for people to form real relationships outside of the virtual world, but I gave in with the condition that it’s monitored carefully.
Over the last month, she started forming online friends outside of her school friends -mostly anime fan clubs. This threw up a ton a red flags for me, and I was about to pull the plug, but Haru insisted that her new online friends were a cool and that they all had so much in common.
Over the weeks, in-app text conversations became voice conversations. The conversations went from being a few minutes a day, to several hours a day. Haru started making up reasons for not going to school, and spent the whole day at home talking to some girl she met on LINE. Suffice it to say, I was very uneasy over this whole situation. I soon learned that this person is some girl who lives on the other side of the country. She had dropped out of school because she was being bullied by her classmates. I suspect this was what attracted Haru to her. She belonged to a group called “drop outs”, which Haru also joined without my knowledge. My wife demanded that she remove herself from that group, but Haru refused.
Growing concerned, I had looked through Haru’s LINE app to make sure that these kids weren’t negatively influencing her to quit school. And although I didn’t find anything in the text messages to suggest it, I suspect that there had been a few verbal conversations on subject.
At this point, we’re are at a crossroad. It seems that every time Haru has one of her long conversations with these kids, she would get on the subject of not wanting to go to school. They are definitely influencing her to drop out, if not directly definitely indirectly. My wife was very close to deleting all of the contacts to these kids from Haru’s phone, but Haru went off on a wild fit when she found out what my wife was up to. But at this point, I feel I have no choice. I can’t have these delinquent brats being a bad influence on my daughter. I think they have already done a ton of damage, and I can only hope that it’s reversible. I am going to lose a tremendous amount of Haru’s trust, but I have to protect her. These are online predators and they are going to do a lot of damage if I don’t stop them now.