We live in the age of technology, which is wonderful – or you would not be able to read this , but it can be a foreign exchange kids’ worst enemy! The ability to keep in touch with with “home” for foreign exchange students is actually a very negative thing about technology! I have learned the hard way that allowing them down time on the computer, on Facebook, emailing, Skyping, etc is one of the biggest mistakes that can be made! Our program has time restriction recommendations for communication with friends and family at home.
Honestly, I did not necessarily agree with this rule in the beginning. I looked at it from the standpoint of the parents back home missing their child. But, the foreign exchange program is about the children, not the parents. It, the internet, is actually a deterrent to the foreign exchange student becoming fully immersed into their new American culture. They basically straddle home and here, and it amplifies the difficulties that exchange students experience while facing the actual separation from home. By clinging to their home culture and emotional ties, it makes it much more difficult for them to engage completely here. Limiting contact initially and being consistent with this, unless during special times such as birthdays, holidays, or other important dates! Time on the phone or in communication at home should be limited to a short amount of time that is agreed upon by the host family!
Enforce your time limits and be strict with the rules. Limit online time daily and have the student study in an open place, even if this is their room with the door open. Check often to make sure that the internet is being utilized only for schoolwork. I have been “fooled” more than once with kids secretly on Facebook, b/c they have it set at their homepage.
Once you have a better understanding of your kid, and they are well integrated and over their inevitable homesickness, you can reassess the internet policy with your student.