Help! My Teen is Addicted to Video Games
09/01/2008 at 18:41 PM

My child is 17, and has enjoyed playing video games for the past few years.  Recently, he started playing an online computer game, and now it's all he does.  He ignores his family and friends, barely does his homework, and doesn't seem to care about applying to college at all.

I am very concerned that if he does not stop soon, this game will consume his adult life as well.  Is anyone else having a similar experience?

Never had this problem w/ my kids, but my suggestion wld be to either limit or take away the games all together. Try to get your son interested in other activities like sports. There's got to be something your son enjoys other than these video games. Give him the choice, but put your foot down about the games. Good luck!

cid
7331

I used his interest in the games as a way to motivate my boy to do what I wanted him to. I am able to be at home to supervise, if you are still at work when he gets home from school you might have to accept that he will play until you get home. Then, once you are home, after he does his homework and chores and something physical, if his grades are good he can play the game. I know my friend bought a combination lock with a hasp that goes through the electrical plug, to eliminate TV watching while she was at work.

cid
7343

Great thinking, acitez!

cid
7386

Thanks for the replies everyone, very helpful. Since my first post, I went looking for any resources out there that might give me more insight on this problem. Probably the best one I've found so far is called Get Your Kids off Video Games. It is written by a former gaming addict so it really hit home with my husband and I.
One of the suggestions in the book I found to be helpful was moving the games/computer into the open. It is much easier for us to monitor how much time he spends on them. He doesnt like it, of course, but I think it's for the best.

cid
7438

I'm not sure, but let me speak from my personal experience. I used to be very much addicted to the internet. Now, it isn't nearly as bad and I don't avoid hanging out with my friends to go online like I used to.

I know this sounds "bad" and unorthodox, but try loosening up. Don't make weird regulations about when your child plays Video Games, instead, just be lenient and happy and supportive whenever they do something other than playing games, and encourage that. Also, although this never happened to me so I don't really know, try to make sure they have good grades, or are at least trying their best by making sure they efficiently do their homework.

After my parents loosened up with the internet, I began to become less antisocial and addicted. It definitely helps with some.

Also, maybe try understanding what the games are all about? Play some yourself, to understand why your child likes it so much. Although my parents didn't do that with my online addiction, I'm sure it will do no harm :)

cid
7993

My son also is 17 and plays video games excessively. What have you tried??

cid
8182

You are the parent, take control!

cid
8681

video games are addicting. i suggest setting boundaries and a certain alloted time during the week for gaming. outside of that it should have to be off.

cid
8934

Mary,
Yes. Our story is almost identical. I'm at a loss as what to do. I threatened to smash the game and he said he'd smash my car - while I think that was an idle threat, it scares me what he will do. I honestly think it's become an addiction and when dealing with his teachers, I feel they think it's all a parenting issue. My son is 18 - he doesn't do "time out" anymore. What kinds of things have you tried? What are you doing about his homework? My son is a senior - he won't get a job, won't get up in the morning, stays up all night - ugh. Any thoughts would be great.

thank you!

cid
9039

That's a really great answer - do you have a 17 or 18 year old male child with this challenge. If not, please try to be more constructive or provide specific solutions vs. judgement - it doesn't help.

cid
9040

My oldest son was addicted to it for a long time (throughout his high school). It was definitely a classic addiction: doing it at the expense of socializing with others (in real life), getting angry when it was taken away or monitored, causing health problems (lack of sleep from being on all night secretly).

It's very easy for parents who have not dealt with this to say "take it away." My guess -- they don't have a 17-year-old boy who is over 6 ft and 200 pounds who is 1 year away from leaving the house. When you take it away, they get angry and wreak havoc on the household and themselves. I literally got scared when I took it away that my son would rebel by refusing to do classes (and not graduate) or verbally/physically harm someone in his family. There was absolutely NO help in counseling. Sure - you can "tough love it" -- but as a parent, you have to be strong enough to not let short-term (hopefully) problems cause long-term penalty (like not graduating, not getting a college scholarship so that he can go to school).

I can say what helped us TREMENDOUSLY was getting our son on anti-anxiety medication. I know medication is not what you want to hear (believe me -- we fought it). My son refused to take it (and you can't force it at that age). Basically, his gaming was his drug of choice for treating his anxiety. It was where he went to relax when stressed. Chemically, the stimulation does relax the brain. BUT -- it took him hitting rock bottom (getting kicked out of his 1st year of college for failing everything because he spent all his time on the computer). Now, he's doing very well.

What the one poster said about being more lenient -- in hindsight... I'd almost agree. Somehow, I think as their brains mature into more adult brains, they get more into real life scenarios.

It is so hard to take away computers because computers are all around and all but required for success in today's work environment. I felt like taking it away was not helping because unlike an alcoholic who can abstain from his drug of choice, a computer gaming addict cannot easily abstain. (It would be like an alcoholic working at a brewery in the smelling department.)

Other things that did semi-work while my son was in high school (before he got on meds). I sat down with him while he gamed. It was boring as all get-out to me, but I put as much attention into it as I did a sporting event another child was participating in. He seemed to appreciate the interaction - and honestly, he would close his gaming after I watched and questioned things an hour and be done for the day and "back in the real world." BUT -- with 5 kids, I couldn't do this every day!

Then - we forced our son to get a job -- How?! We started requiring him to pay his own insurance, part of the Internet bill, and gave him NO extra money for gas, fun, etc. When he worked, he couldn't spend time on the computer. The only problem - he'd get stressed out at work and instead of coming home to do homework, he went straight to the computer.

We shut off our Internet at the source to the house from 10pm to 7am. BUT - this then got my daughter upset because she was usually up until midnight doing homework and didn't want to be punished because he brother couldn't cope. We'd take his laptop (which he did buy himself), and that would ALWAYS get an angry response.

My biggest advice -- do not pay a lot of money for his college next year. My son's school said about 75% of all kids who flunk out of school are males who were gaming addicts.

Then - get him through graduation - that's your primary job right now.

For anyone who thinks this is a simple fix, ignore them. Believe me - I have a LOT more sympathy for parents of drug addicted children now.

I do believe your son will hit lower and lower, but I also believe as he gets older he will do better.

Stay as positive as you can. More than likely he isn't on another drug, he isn't getting into jail, and he's not getting a girl pregnant. It will get better! It just must take some time (years).

Oh - and I made sure not to spend so much of my time focused on my son's issues and the detriment of forgetting my other children's needs.

cid
9302

I think one good idea is to nip this behavior in the bud, don't wait until you have a 200 lb 6 foot tall 17 year old, just like the lady on the other thread who had caved in to her kids for 10 years. Be a mindful parent, spend time with your kids and be aware of their interests and struggles. Teach (by example and by talking about things) healthy effective coping strategies so they aren't self-medicating with any behavior or substance.

cid
9317

Addictions can start at any time in a persons life and can quickly consume and control and persons life. An addiction is not something that can be changed overnight, so it is important to be patient. I recommend you sit down with your son and talk to him about your concerns, try and set up some time limits in which he is allowed to play video games. If your son is unwilling to listen or work on changing his behavior, it is best to seek out professional medical help, from your family doctor.

cid
10783

you should really try to talk to him becuase usually kids that get too involved in video games usually end up staying that way...i mean i have really never met anyone that only does that but u should just have a talk with him and see what his plans are in life and how he plans on doing things in the future and you can find out how he feel about life that way and how he thinks...

cid
11145

you need to work hard on him or make him read
book or take the game alway

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11151

Mary and everyone I am 20 years old and my favorite passtime is video games so coming from knowledge and experience its stupid to say video games are ''addicting'' heres the definition

being abnormally tolerant to and dependent on something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming (especially alcohol or narcotic drugs)

an abnormally strong craving

which means that if you stop doing it your or his body is going to suffer after effects right, so the term addicted to video games is totally wrong. Lets take some notes first of all

1) How is your relationship with your child?
2) how is the child's relationship with his friends/community?
3)How is his relationship with his family?

These questions may answer a lot of things cause my personal reason before cause my community was harsh and my family were awful to me so I would stay in my room and played all day so i couldnt get hurt by anyone.
Also note thats he's 17 he's technically a adult and even if you take away/monitor his video games he'll find a way to play them by any means. Also have you tried playing the games with your son and trying to understand why he's so in to it?? Cause Id say the fast majority of parents dont want to understand why we the children find video games so entertaining, Thus creating a gap between parent and child. What I reccomend Mary and this comes from a actual VIDEO GAMER (I own hundreds of games and spends hours playing them but I love spending time with family and friends) Is to sit down and play with your not just to understand why, but also so you can learn yourself what a VIDEO GAME is. You or anyone can ask further questions to me at omegajpn@hotmail.com

cid
24499

also note that by reducing or taking away the video games is the easy way out of the problems, try to go into a mutual agreement dont just go all authority with him, cause that'll make him lose respect for a lot of things

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24500