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Computer Game Addiction
Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Teens, Preteens, & Young Adults > Computer Game Addiction
Kids & Teens
I don't use the term lightly. We put limits on video game time and he has gotten into behavior that mimics serious addiction. When he's been told to put the touch away, he will sneak into his room and try to play it more. When I hide it, he will sneak into my room and go through my things to find it. When I catch him he lies to me. When I hide it better, he sneaks his dad's ipad into his room and plays that (he knows the passcode; I've since asked husband to change the code). This morning I was doing something in the basement and came up and he was trying to casually walk away from the computer. He has to get explicit permission to use it and he tried to lie to me, telling me that the game that was up was from another time. He promises he will change, next time will be better. He CAN change and he WILL. He will prove to me that he loves me more than his video games. See where I'm going with this?
We've gone through the whole cycle - taking away the computer and other gaming technologies for longer and longer periods of time. getting angry. trying to reintroduce the gaming technology only to have to take it away again when privileges are abused. I finally realized that to continue to try to give him any kind of access in the face of a clear addiction is a parenting failure on my part. So, I've taken it all away for the final time and explained to him that this time it's not a punishment (although I'm sure that's a tough concept for him to understand). It's me trying to love him and meet him where he's at and that, right now, he's clearly unable to control himself no matter what it costs him. I told him I want to enjoy his company and being angry at his inability to control himself all the time is hurting our relationship. I've also told him I'm not going to talk about any sort of timeline for getting it all back.
He's 9, almost 10. He's a great kid in many many ways, but he's always struggled to self regulate. I feel like he needs the time and space to grow up a little. He needs to be able to use computers and be around technology without becoming so consumed that it affects the other parts of his life. It's not like alcohol, for example, where you can carve out a reality where you don't ever drink (even if you have to figure out how to live in a world where the people around you can and do imbibe). So, here's my question. How do I know he's ready to try to integrate computers and gaming back into his life (in a supervised and limited way)? How do I do it in a way that allows for some sort of self regulation? video games are ruining my relationship with my son
Given the pervasiveness of devices, the addiction is most likened to a food addiction, i.e. the addict needs to learn to live in a world of computers as the anorexic needs to learn to live in a world of food. The considered advice is to get specialist (i.e. addictions expert) professional help and unfortunately for your son, no gaming. An hour of gaming is apparently like that one beer to an alcoholic. Encourage lots more outdoor and social activities going forward and maybe think about reducing your/other family members time on devices when with your son. Whizparent
I would take everything out of his room except his bed and clothing. Nothing to entertain him. You need a place you can send him when he misbehaves where the only thing he can do is contemplate what he did wrong. I would consider taking the door off his room so he knows he can be monitored whenever you walk by.
He is going to need a computer for school work. I would severely lock it down to make sure he can't install his own software. I would install website blocking software that only allows him to go to websites you approve of (like the one for getting school assignments). This computer has to be in ''public'' area of the house like the dining room or living room.
Any other computers, smart phones, iPads, etc. that have internet access need to be password protected. You need to make sure you log off or lock them each time you leave those devices.
I wouldn't tell him the WiFi password so he can't use an outside wireless device without you knowing it.
I would tell him that unless he proves to you that you can trust him, he'll have to wait until he is an adult (18) to play video games.
If he goes over to someone else's house, he is likely to have access to video games. I wouldn't allow that for a long time, but eventually, after some trust is built up, I would use that as a way to slowly reintroduce him to video games. Let him go over for a couple of hours and then pick up him. Talk to him about it.
We were helped by reading the John Rosemond books like this one: ''The Well-Behaved Child: Discipline That Really Works!'' http://www.amazon.com/The-Well-Behaved-Child-Discipline-Really/dp/0849947154/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1371665531&sr=8-1&keywords=john+rosemond -parent of twins
My 15 year old grandson is addicted to video gaming (in this case it's ''League of Legends''/LOL.) He'll spend every waking (and sleeping) hour doing only this. He thinks he'll have a career in it. Maybe he will (he's very bright & seems highly skilled in LOL) BUT his life as a teen is not being experienced. He plays on a 'team' of LOL gamers who are 10-15 years older. Now they are his''friends''. He was great in whatever sport he suited up for (but never had a long lasting enthusiasm for any; it's not so surprising that he's dropped out of all sports. He'll sneak onto the computer when he should be doing his homework or sleeping. So far grades haven't fallen. He forgets to eat, to drink water, to do his minimal chores. No longer does he ask a teen friend over to visit; ditto for going to their home. He had promise as a pianist or guitarist, but he doesn't practice anymore. League of Legends is it. I'm live here & he lives 5 hours away, but his mother/my daughter-in-law is concerned. My successful son/his father (who works in the computer industry & plays some video games, but isn't addicted) is unclear what is best. Mostly, however, his father supports whatever teen's mother wants to do. Thank you for your helpful input.
My 16 year has anxiety with going out of his comfort zone. He is addicted to his computer...he plays games & nothing sexual or violent....we went to florida for a week and he stayed in his room with his laptop the whole time...he doesn't like to go out and his friends are online buddies....when we go to family events he isolates himself from everyone...he opted for on-line schooling as he could not take any more high school...and begged me to withdraw and let him do this online school and he has not been doing the work he needs to be doing with his courses and all he does when i talk to him is just a look and declares himself happy....and he refuses to go to a counselor...help
So, with your son, who is in charge? It simply has to be you. If you feel that he needs professional help (and I agree that such a consultation is appropriate) then you must get this done! If your son had a serious medical condition, would you allow him to choose not to go to a doctor? Nope. Then, make an appointment with a therapist. Tell your son he is going and inform him of the consequences if he makes a poor choice and refuses to cooperate. Let him know that you fully intend to do your job as a parent. One possible consequence for such a refusal comes to mind immediately- take away his computer if your son continues to refuse to go for the help you as his parent feels he needs. anon
Our foster son, who has a lot of anxiety as well as a lot to recover from, would be happy to just play online from rise to bedtime. We set a school-year weekly limit of 15 hours and a summer limit of 21 hours. He can earn or lose time based on his behavior. Because he has behavioral issues, this is one of our few points of leverage. It has been very effective.
Stand firm. He cannot just drop out of school and life. It's up to you to set limits. online game time is a privilege, not a right
My 13-yr-old son in 8th grade quit martial arts and now hangs around talking on phone & using the computer. He loved martial arts - had been at it since he was 3. When I asked him Why, he said ''It takes up too much of my life'' The point here is that he wants to hang around & use computer and do nothing else. This is isolating, bad for his eyes & body, makes him miss out opportunities to develop personality & learn social skills and makes him a boring, sheltered person. I suppose it would be OK for him to be in dance, sports,etc. as long as he has some physical activity out of the house where he is with others--but he flatly refuses. It is not OK to sit with eyes glued to screen getting ruined & body turning into mush & just being isolated in this little virtual world. It gets to the point where he does not want to answer when I am talking to him. It's the computer & phone that are taking over life (yes i sometimes take it away, but i need it myself & eventually it comes back. I suggest many different activities and look at magazines to find more, but he shoots down every one. I am hoping someone out there has a suggestion; maybe you went thru something like this & found a solution.
Somehow we grew up okay without all the electronic devices. You are paying the bills for these devices, so you can turn them off. Parent of teens
My son is 17 and was recently diagnosed w/ ADHD and LD by a neuropsychologist. We had him tested because we were concerned about his grades, which had been very good, but curved down to bottom by junior year. He is very intelligent, but does very little homework. He sees a therapist, a learning specialist and has a 504 plan at BHS.
He plays World of Warcraft compulsively. Treatment by his therapists does not seem to help him come to the realization that his gaming is a problem. When we (the parents) take away the game, he goes on strike and doesn't go to school.
Questions: Does anyone have any experience with World of Warcraft addiction? If so, what has helped your child? Are there any local therapists who specialize in this? What about residential treatment or boarding schools? I am at wit's end. Any advice or sharing of experience would be appreciated. anon
There is no guarantee that every teenager will make it through their teen years, nowadays.
Radical treatment is needed here. Get rid of his computer, admittedly difficult to do. Electronic screens in general, have become the malaise of American children.
Call the BUSD attendance office and/or the Berkeley Police if necessary. It is nothing to feel shy or stigmatized about.
You can't let your son control the situation. You need to rein him in.
My own son has a degree of computer addiction (racing games). I sent him away to camp for 9 weeks this summer, largely to get him away from the computer.
Bill Gates lets his daughter use the computer 45 minutes on school nights and 1 hour on weekend nights. If that's enough time for Bill Gates' child, it's enough time for our sons.
Best of Luck and Don't Be Reticent! Berkeley Teacher and Mother
First, Iowa State psychology professor Douglas Gentile says there are red flags to watch for when it comes to any video game addiction. It's not the hours, he says, it's the impact on the rest of life. So here's the list of red flags: http://www.ibabuzz.com/aparentlyspeaking/2008/04/06/game-on-too-long/
World of Warcraft was a hot topic on a recent Q&A session we ran with CSU Dominguez Hills professor Larry Rosen, author of ''Me, Myspace and I'' (great book, by the way),Walnut Creek therapist Steven Freemire and Times video games blogger Danny Willis -- and Danny raised some particularly interesting points about why forcing a teen to go cold-turkey meets with the reception that, well, you've experienced. He says parents tend to think of these games like virtual solitaire, when they're more like varsity football. They're played in teams, so if your son doesn't show up to play, he's letting down real people to whom he made a commitment. So it may be helpful when you talk to your son, if you understand that to him, it's like being yanked off the varsity football team, or told he can only go to two practices a week -- in which case, the team will dump him. Your discussion will go better if he gets that you get it. Or at least, the door may not be slammed quite as hard.
Excerpts from the Q&A, as well as the full Times story, are archived here: http://www.ibabuzz.com/aparentlyspeaking/2008/04/06/game-on-too-long/ Jackie
As with any other excessive activity, he needs to be reminded who the parent is. Bring him into school if necessary. Take away other privledges. Whatever you have to do to re-establish the parent-child relationship. Jenny
I read about game addiction in a medical journal, and the effect on the brain appears to be similar to substance addiction--increasing use needed for the same ''high'', etc. This is exactly how WOW is set up. Not everyone is susceptible to it, but from what I read, as with substance abuse, if someone is really addicted, access to the game has to be cut off. Hopefully you will get recommendations for treatment from other readers. parent of WOW fan
My son is a sophomore at Albany High, and he appears to be addicted to video games. I think his ideal life would be sitting in front of a computer monitor with an IV in his arm to deliver enough nutrients and caffeine that he wouldn't have to eat or sleep. He also has started to lie to his mother and me -- and to his teachers -- about his schoolwork to maximize his access to the video games, particularly those on the web. He has some friends, but they tend to be limited to other "gamers."
Does anyone have any advice and/or good resources for dealing with this problem? In one sense, I'm glad he isn't out on the streets getting into drugs or other forms of trouble. But I fear his life has become so one-dimensional that he will be damaged as a result of this obsession. Anonymous
My son is a Senior at AHS and has the same addiction. We tried monitoring, reducing, limiting the hours he spent playing his favorite game (Diablo). These were all just band-aids put on a serious injury and ultimately not successful. We recently took the game and threw it in the garbage. He was, surprisingly, not angry, and seemed almost relieved. I realize that this isn't a permanent solution, since computers are everywhere, but it's a start. I wish I had taken more aggressive action a long time ago, and I urge any parents facing this same situation to take it seriously. Some may feel that the word addiction is thrown around too lightly these days and that this is not a true addiction. I can testify from our experience that this is an addiction, and one that is not easily broken. It's not as easy as just finding other activities for your son to take part in. While they're in their gaming mode, they don't want to do anything else. That is inherent in the nature of an addiction.
My husband recently did some research on the internet about gaming addiction and this is what he found.
From: http://www.vifamily.ca/cft/media/media.htm Parents and teachers often comment that "kids become absolutely wired" when absorbed in video games. Now, there's a scientific study which confirms that observation. In a study conducted at the Cyclotron Unit of Hammersmith Hospital in London, Dr. Paul Grasby and his fellow researchers determined that playing video games triggers the release of dopamine in the brain. The researchers discovered that dopamine production in the brain doubles during video game play. The increase of the psychoactive chemical was roughly the same as when a person is injected with amphetamines or the attention-deficit disorder drug, Ritalin. This is the first hard evidence that video game playing is addictive, "the equivalent of a dose of speed." From: http://www.computeraddiction.com/ Psychological Symptoms of computer addiction are: Having a sense of well-being or euphoria while at the computer Inability to stop the activity Craving more and more time at the computer Neglect of family and friends Feeling empty, depressed, irritable when not at the computer Lying to employers and family about activities Problems with school or jobAnother article about gaming addiction is at: http://pigseye.kennesaw.edu/~tbennet1/
The list of symptoms above described my son to a tee. Now that the game is gone, he has started going out more with friends and is friendlier to us around the house. I wish you luck with your son and his addiction. I know that every situation is unique, and you have to do what feels right to you. I certainly wish, for my son's sake, that I had known what I know now about this addiction. I am signing this anonymously, but if you wish to talk to me, let me know through this site and I'll contact you. Good luck.
Of course, it's impossible to know what kids are doing ALL of the time, but
it seems the key to getting this under control is to be firm and consistent
in setting limits. Hope that helps.
My 15 year old son often does not get up on time to get to school on time. He stays up too late and has his radio on all night. At times he seems to be addicted to computer games. I would like to get some advice as to how to deal with this situation.
The only thing that works is physically removing the computer. We tried many other tactics. We'd say ''computer after homework'' but he'd say he had no homework. We tried taking away the computer till grades improved, and they'd improve, he'd get the computer back, and grades would take a nose dive again. We tried locking the keyboard in the trunk of our car (he found another keyboard), unplugging the internet connection (he plugged it back after we went to bed) and taking out the graphics card (he borrowed one from a friend). So we have to take the CPU and lock it up. I feel like an ogre - I know how important email and instant messaging are to teens and I really hate to take it away. I am myself a software engineer who's on the computer all day. I like games myself. But he is completely unable to limit the time he spends on games - it really is an addiction. Now he only gets his computer on the weekends. Even though he is not in school anymore and has very little else to do. He complains continually and bitterly about this but even he agrees that he cannot control himself.
My advice: take the computer away. Give it to him on weekends if his grades are satisfactory. Don't crumble if he complains. Hold your ground. He will find other things to do.
Our 6-year old son's passion for video games runs deep, and his interest in most all other activities has diminished. He used to look forward to play dates, going to the park, etc. Now, when given a choice, he prefers to go to his 10-y/o cousin's house and play video games. He has rec'd an older, obsolete game console (not kept at our home), and an older Game Boy handheld as hand-me-downs. He also likes playing video games on the computer.
Anything short of a newer game console from Santa this Xmas will be a huge disappointment to him. While we don't want to completely deprive him of playing video games, we also don't want him to grow up into some slacker who spends all his waking moments engaged in this activity at the expense of relationships, school, physical fitness, etc.
Any advice on how to effectively develop his interest in other activities and maintain a balance between those activities and his desire to play video games. Thank you for any input
My son was quite obsessed for a while about 3 years ago. I just severely limited all of his screen time. I leveled with him about my reasons without being angry at him. I told him that it is my duty to raise him as a well-rounded kid and that playing video games all the time is bad for him, just like eating cake and cookies for every meal might taste good but in reality would be very bad for him. He moaned and groaned at first, but it worked. As he played less, he though about it less, and eventually got to the point where he only plays a couple of times a week.
You should enroll him in some activities, be it sports, drama, art. Just choose something that a friend is doing, to get him going. Even short-term city-rec type programs will get him out and his mind off the games.
The main thing is that you are firm and resolved. Once my kids figured out that nothing will change my mind on these kinds of issues, they stopped fighting me on them. Or, they learned to come up with really good compromises, which is a good skill Fight the Good Fight!
My husband spends most of his free time playing video games. He works very hard at his job. During his down time he plays video games. If we have nothing else planned and if the kids are busy, he will spend most of his weekend time gaming. He also will play late into the evening... often until 1 or 2 in the morning. I am trying my best to accept this ( though I do think video games are addictive) and need some support. Is this common behavior in most families these days? sick of games
It works pretty well for us. Most of the time I don't mind his gaming a bit. I read a lot and watch DVDs he doesn't want to watch and we both enjoy our solo time. I see it more as a maintenance issue - when I feel like we've been spending too much time doing our own things, instead of stewing or making up rigid rules, I let him know I need him. He knows it's not forever, so it's not a hardship for him to say he'll back off for a few days. Sometimes one of us gets annoyed, but emotions are emotions and as long as we communicate it works out. married to a gamer
Nevertheless, I would neither expect any big changes from his end of it, nor would I choose to necessarily end such an imperfect union. After forty-some years on this planet and a few relationships and a marriage later, my observation is that there are very few people who manage to mature into grown-up companions with good conversation skills. Good luck on that one. You probably need to give your marriage a periodic review of pros vs. cons and see if you find the situation still acceptable. The search for companionship and conversation has to be weighed against the emotional and financial needs of the children, the consequences of divorce on them, and your own emotional fortitude in handling such a huge transition in the face of these challenges. anon
Do other people out there have husbands who play video games for hours on end in the evening and every spare moment they can? I confess I have no patience for them and find them juvenile and addictive. I feel hurt and blocked out when he plays. He's an excellent father, but my kids/girls are beginning to notice how much their dad plays video games. Does anyone else struggle with this? When does interest turn to addiction? Thanks, anon
1. No games until the kids are in bed and all chores are done. Dishes and toys are his job while I do the last of the bedtime routine; he plays once all of that is done, so that when I am done, too, we are both off duty.
2. No games when the kids are awake, weekday or weekend.
3. Games have more plot these days, and there is more continuity than there used to be. He plays for a week or two, finishes a game, and then not again for a few months. There are late nights. I am much more understanding of the binge when I know that it will be followed by a few game-free weeks.
4. He plays on easy mode, which is completely unnecessary for him, but which allows him the satisfaction of getting all the way through a game without needing to spend months on the same stupid boss battle.
5. He likes for me to be involved, even though my feelings about games are much like yours. I try to watch now and then. I talk to him about the game itself when he isn't playing, discuss the game's merits, or lack thereof. I sometimes hang out while he plays, reading a book or doing my own stuff. (Most of the time I use the opportunity to catch up on sleep.) It can be painful sometimes, but it helps keep me from feeling like it is something that takes him away; instead the time is a sort of shared private time.
If you can, restrain your judgment of his hobby; mentally replace gaming with model trains or whatever else would make you happier. Imagine a hobby that you might have--rock climbing or knitting or interpretive dance--that you fell in love with but which he found boring or silly. Think about how you would want him to deal with you.
My emergency plan has always been to simply walk out the door, especially if the kids are awake and need tending to. Just put it all down and walk out. I'm all for down time, for turning off, for checking out, but it is absolutely unfair that one person in a house gets to do this while the other is burdened by the full care of children and home. That, I would say, is when interest turns into addiction--when responsibilities to self and others are unfulfilled and neglected in order to play.
We use the word addiction in our house, around both net-surfing and gaming. It certainly changes the whole conversation. Good Luck
My husband is addicted to World of Warcraft. Much to my dismay he puts it above all other priorities in his life, including me and our 2 year old daughter. While I could stun you with examples of this prioritization (well, okay here are a few: 8 hours a day gaming, always playing during family time, gets belligerant tells me to go away if I try to get him to do anything else during this time, panics at the thought of not gaming, his own family doesn't want to see him). Thankfully, we have started counseling. I have my own therapist. I am looking for a support group that handles this sort of thing. Like Game- Anon? Any ideas, something out there I don't know about? Are there other ''Wow-widows'' or ''Wow-widowers'' out there?
I'm so frustrated and depressed. Our life together is going nowhere as this inanimate object called my husband levels up to some god ranking at this game.
Just for some perspective, we both have great jobs, always get bonuses and raises etc. so it's not like that is suffering. Just our marriage and family.... Thanks, wow-widow
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