Dealing With Teen Gaming Addiction

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Video games aren't a god damn addiction, they're an entertainment medium. If you want your kid to play fewer video games, give him something more entertaining to do. Find him/her a girl/boyfriend. Have him sign up for sports. there is no greater intervention needed than that. Hell, why not just let him play video games. heaven forbid the poor kid could be entertained in his free time.

There are actually tech detox facilities, which supposedly run a brisk business depriving people of all forms of the more modern technology. cell phones, touch pads, laptops, and yes, video games. There are, I understand, several nearby my home in Vermont. (well, nearby is something of a relative term) and other more "technologically desolate" areas.

For those of you saying that it's impossible to become addicted to video games, I propose an experiment, first, put all your consoles away, box them up, seal them with tape. Delete any gaming programs from your computer and mobile devices. (if possible, put them away too, there are alternatives to every program you have on there [letters=Email, pen & paper = several programs]) and put that all aside for a month. Then see what kind of results you get.

BGH122:

Precisely. Everyone here seems to be a big fan of tough love (I smell internet-tough-guyitis) in lieu of any genuine education in psychology. Such drastically draconian measures work only as coercion and completely sever the necessary attachment bond between parent and child and can lead to some pretty severe personality defects down the line.

The trouble with genuine exercises in psychology is that they are typically time consuming. tough love, although much more ... well, tough, carries with it an additional benefit of pace. It's somewhat comparable to breaking a door down as opposed to picking the lock. Several people have mentioned that until this kid realizes that he has a problem, he's not going to change, and that means he has to hit rock bottom before he can start climbing back up. The unfortunate thing is, rock bottom is a long way down. With a gaming addiction, all you really need is food, power and a place to poop. As long as they have the accommodations necessary to survive and to fuel their addiction, addicts can tolerate a lot.

orangeapples:
snip

You mention here that your friends didn't realize they had a problem, and since that spoke to my earlier point, I referenced it. The problem here is, if this kid were in his 20's then yes, he would be responsible for his own life, ultimatums would need to be drawn (college or rent or out) but this kid is 17, he's still in high school. And if he was passing, (well the problem wouldn't really necessitate this kind of discussion) then the complaints would be different, but he's failing all his courses, this doesn't just ruin his present opportunities, it decimates all future ones. If his parents are to be believed in their correspondence, then this boy is failing all or most of his classes.

Not only is failing high school laughably terrible, but it also destroys nearly all future activities. He's swiftly reducing his job qualifications to pushing brooms and flipping burgers. And forget college. Yes, later in life he can go back and get a GED, but by then, as was raised in the article, most of his life may have passed him by (maybe another 15 years) the job market's already bad, college graduates are lucky to find any work, what prospects do you think a 30 year old man with a fresh GED and no job experience will have?

spartan231490:
Video games aren't a god damn addiction, they're an entertainment medium. If you want your kid to play fewer video games, give him something more entertaining to do. Find him/her a girl/boyfriend. Have him sign up for sports. there is no greater intervention needed than that. Hell, why not just let him play video games. heaven forbid the poor kid could be entertained in his free time.

Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but this is bull. I don't think anyone is saying that video games are themselves, addictive, you're correct in saying that they are inherently entertaining diversions. But you can become addicted to them, there's no chemical dependance, but the need remains the same (if you want to prove me wrong, then you go totally without video games for a month). I have seen people (myself included) go a process remarkably similar to withdrawal when deprived of video games for an extended period of time.

And the problem isn't that he's being entertained in his free time, it's that he's being entertained ALL the time.

lemiel14n3:

The trouble with genuine exercises in psychology is that they are typically time consuming. tough love, although much more ... well, tough, carries with it an additional benefit of pace. It's somewhat comparable to breaking a door down as opposed to picking the lock. Several people have mentioned that until this kid realizes that he has a problem, he's not going to change, and that means he has to hit rock bottom before he can start climbing back up. The unfortunate thing is, rock bottom is a long way down. With a gaming addiction, all you really need is food, power and a place to poop. As long as they have the accommodations necessary to survive and to fuel their addiction, addicts can tolerate a lot.

I've already stated that the scientific evidence of this so-called gaming 'addiction' are sparse to say the least. Gaming as a coping strategy is well evidenced. Gaming as an addiction that fulfils all of Griffiths' (2002) criteria is not.

Concepts like bottoming out don't apply to coping strategies. This is far likelier to be a coping strategy, therefore mere removal of the coping strategy won't have any positive effects; it'd be akin to alleviating a symptom of a disease whilst roundly ignoring the cause. What would work to remove both the coping strategy and the cause would be an open discussion with the kid to see if he feels upset about something.

As I've said previously, all this 'tough love' nonsense is often spouted in lieu of any genuine knowledge of any of its well documented effects.

KaiusCormere:

BGH122:
[quote="Silva" post="6.304141.12195968"]
Would you rather your child be successful or happy?

I'm pretty sure most parents will say successful.

/bitter

Sadly, I think you're right. Those parents really need to do their research and look at just how many negative traits ranging the full gambit from depression to low assertiveness to high blood pressure and CHD prevalence are associated with low parental support. Successful != happy.

lemiel14n3:

For those of you saying that it's impossible to become addicted to video games, I propose an experiment, first, put all your consoles away, box them up, seal them with tape. Delete any gaming programs from your computer and mobile devices. (if possible, put them away too, there are alternatives to every program you have on there [letters=Email, pen & paper = several programs]) and put that all aside for a month. Then see what kind of results you get.

Im not saying its impossible to be addictive, but most people classified as that actually isn't addicted. your experiment isnt really hard. every summer i go camping with friends for 2 weeks. the only electronic device i take with me is my cell phone, incase of emergency to call for help ect. it usually jsut sits in my pocket doing nothing whole 2 weeks. no problem with that, and no withdrawal or anything. on the otheer hand while im at home im at computer 6-8 hours a day easy and would be even more if i had more time. conclusion - your experiment doesnt work.

BGH122:
[...]

First we need to prove that gaming addictions are a genuine psychological phenomenon. The research I've seen on so called gaming addictions has been beyond dismal [...]
We need to genuinely show that gaming addiction follows Griffiths' (2002) components of addiction:

[...]

In the few genuine empirical studies I've seen on the matter they either failed to find all signs of addiction in 'addicted' gamers, or found that gaming was being used a coping mechanism [...] due to some other stressor. [...]

Far too many things are classified as addictions these days by people looking to cash in on the scaremongering or the juicy clinician contracts to deal with the false problem.

[...] Far too often I see parents who've decided that they want their child to be an Ivy League trendsetter and view any deviance of the child from this desire as a problem with the child; if your kid isn't interested in your goals for your kid then that likely just means that maybe you shouldn't be setting his life goals for him.

[...]

Just because you, the parent, think something is right for your child doesn't mean that thing is actually right for your child.

In my experience it's far better for a parent to lend support than force it. If a child isn't ready or willing to do what you think is best for him it may simply be that what you think is best for him isn't what's actually best for him.

Would you rather your child be successful or happy?

Best comment so far and will be hard to best. Not like the usual stuff you find around a commentīs section. It realy has only one shortcoming: Could you please name the studies you are talking about so everyone interested here can look them up?

Setting the goals for your children is wrong. Neglecting parental responsibility is also wrong. Now we are dancing on a razorīs edge. Parenting is not fun and you often have to do things according to better judgment on your part. This is you have to enable your child to engage society which means you are responsible that your child is successful in school so it has the possibility to enroll in higher education or persue a career. This is up until the point the child becomes more mature and finaly must make tough decisions on his own.
To be clear when I say the parents have to sometimes decide against the will of the child I am talking about children like primary and secondary school assuming you live in a society in which it is mandatory to archive this level of education to be considered a full fledged member of that society. yes I am saying that the child has basicly no say wether it wants to be educated or not. Assuming you start school with 6 and have to visit the school like 10 years you are 16 years old at the time of graduating school (if nothing did go wrong). After graduating you have the choice of either going to work or persue even higher education (depending on where you live this one depends on some criteria like money). It is around that time (sometimes earlier sometimes a bit later I am generalizing here but you all surely get the idea about what time in your life I am talking about) that parents have to consider the goals and decisions of their children seriously as those of an autonomous person who decides for him- or herself. Parents have to respect those decisions (not agree with them necesserily) because their child has now responsibility and acountability over his or her own actions.

Jachwe:
Best comment so far and will be hard to best. Not like the usual stuff you find around a commentīs section. It realy has only one shortcoming: Could you please name the studies you are talking about so everyone interested here can look them up?

Thanks! I would have done so at the time, but whenever I do I always get responses like "lol this isent a uneversety essy lolololol" so I didn't bother. I'll start doing that again in future. If I can actually find my psych textbook (which has mysteriously gone missing) I'll quote those studies for you.

Jachwe:
It is around that time (sometimes earlier sometimes a bit later I am generalizing here but you all surely get the idea about what time in your life I am talking about) that parents have to consider the goals and decisions of their children seriously as those of an autonomous person who decides for him- or herself. Parents have to respect those decisions (not agree with them necesserily) because their child has now responsibility and acountability over his or her own actions.

Precisely. Parents should, of course, attempt to help guide their child through life, but this guidance should be supportive of the child's basic decisions and life goals. Back when I took my brief foray into studying medicine (I quit almost instantly because it was so incredibly boring), I was amazed by how many people were only studying medicine because their parents were forcing them to. These students were seriously depressed and burnt out and yet kept going at it because they felt they had no choice but to do so. If you are forcing your child to pursue a career path that will lead to chronic stress then you are literally killing your child (Kuper et al (2002a) found in their meta-analysis of 9 studies in which samples were initially healthy that high stress was linked to a moderate to strong increase in coronary heart disease prevalence in two thirds of the studies analysed).

Low parental support is linked to self-esteem issues (Felson (1989) showed that high parental support, defined as behaviour that "makes the child feel basically accepted and approved of as a person", was positively linked to high self-esteem) which in turn is linked to low assertiveness (Kurosawa (1993) found that those with higher self-esteem showed higher independence and were less susceptible to group influence) which in turn is linked to low career success (White (1993) showed that, using the Adult Self Expression Scale and the Mach V Scale, high assertiveness was linked with higher success at mock screening interviews for promotions and job applications).

In short, it boils down to this: If you continue make your child feel like your respect for him/her is conditional then you are being a bad parent and are fostering negative traits in your child.

I would say one of two things to him...

1) what do you want to be when you grow up? .... Well, playing runescape won't help you do that.

2) beat the kid to a bloody pulp then say do you want to do homework

Level with the kid, explain that he is not going to want to live forever with the folks, he will want to own a car, buy his own stuff but he can't do that without a job and you can't get a job with no qualifications.

Hell, I would even show him what bills I had to pay (if this was my kid) just to show how expensive it is to just live by yourself

Kids can be mature and realize things when they need to.

No use constantly saying "do your homework", he doesn't understand why that needs to be done as there are no immediate effects to doing well in school, which is what kids like.

(to be honest I still don't see the point in home work, I go to school to learn. Learning should remain in school and not be brought home!)

lemiel14n3:
snip

spartan231490:
Video games aren't a god damn addiction, they're an entertainment medium. If you want your kid to play fewer video games, give him something more entertaining to do. Find him/her a girl/boyfriend. Have him sign up for sports. there is no greater intervention needed than that. Hell, why not just let him play video games. heaven forbid the poor kid could be entertained in his free time.

Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but this is bull. I don't think anyone is saying that video games are themselves, addictive, you're correct in saying that they are inherently entertaining diversions. But you can become addicted to them, there's no chemical dependance, but the need remains the same (if you want to prove me wrong, then you go totally without video games for a month). I have seen people (myself included) go a process remarkably similar to withdrawal when deprived of video games for an extended period of time.

And the problem isn't that he's being entertained in his free time, it's that he's being entertained ALL the time.

I have gone without video games for a month. Close to two as a matter of fact. I didn't go into withdrawal, I found other ways to entertain myself. Like reading, watching tv, coming on the escapist far more times a day than I have any reason to. Watching anime. It wasn't even hard. And I have one hell of an addictive personality. My xbox hasn't played anything over than a movie in 2 solid months, and I had maybe 4 or 5 gaming sessions in the entire 2 months before that. I always play a very small amount of video games in the summer. My friend Lee hasn't played video games in 2 months either. He also hasn't suffered any withdrawal symptoms.

Thanks to all of you who shared your thoughts on this piece--I read all the comments and find them fascinating, even if you take issue with what I have said. I see that some of you found the idea of medicine repulsive. I don't think I was suggesting that meds are the first choice in a situation like this or even the best choice. I think I brought them up in the context of something that could be considered in an intensive outpatient treatment program and I noted that meds, like counseling, tend not to be helpful if the person is not motivated to take or try them.

When someone ends up in a totally entrenched situation like this and really can't control themselves, you have to consider extraordinary measures sometimes. To me, removing someone from their family is even more extraordinary than meds. Some habitual gamers actually find school dull and difficult to focus on, so ADD meds can help. Others may be depressed or anxious and use gaming to escape how bad that feels. Medication can also help with this. I never suggest meds as the first solution to any of these problems, but after trying other things, I have seen them to be useful for some people. I'm a psychologist, not a psychiatrist, I don't prescribe medications and prefer to avoid recommending them unless absolutely necessary.

There's a lot of factors going in here. I think American schools anyway are a mess and need to be overhauled. The environment wasn't conductive to learning when I went through and it isn't any better now. Also, this person needs to put the man/woman pants on and take charge. Dont let that kid leave the house. Do they not understand the concept of grounding a kid?

the spud:
So, te solution to gaming addiction is to lock them in a closet for upwards of 2 weeks?

I don't understand, how would you find a way to copletley block a persons video game availability without tramatizing them?

If someone is traumatized by lack of access to video games, there is a seriousl psychological or immatureity problem going on. Games are NOT that important.

Same as any other addiction, right?

People start calling the addiction on you, you rebuff them in denial, they stage an intervention, you admit that you have a problem and through sheer force of will and moral support you go cold turkey for as long as it takes. And then, ideally, you go on a quest to fill that big void within with more constructive things than a sickly addiction. Care for your emotional and social needs rather than covering them up. Notice all of this becomes so much easier when you have people backing you up...

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