I’ve heard oodles about cybersafety and cyberbullying, what about cyber addiction! My once happy teenage son, kicked a footy around, skateboarded up and down the drive, did his homework and even said ‘Hi Mum’ when he came home from school. Now my 14 turning 15 year old son is moody and locks himself in his bedroom in the dark, spending hours playing computer games. He gets angry – even abusive, if we suggest other activities. He lies to us – telling us he is doing his homework but we have had calls from his school and he is not handing in work or the work is substandard. He barely talks to us anymore. I am sure he is gaming and is addicted and I don’t know what to do or where to start. Desperate Mum
It can all begin innocently enough with the use of Playstation and XBox but can equally degenerate into a full blown addiction. It can effect the quality of their lives. Some teens refuse to eat with the family, take in snacks into their bedrooms, stop exercising, and let their grades slip. They become obsessed with reaching the next level, or beating another player. They stop socialising in this world and the online world takes over and literally sucks them in. Worst of all, they deny that they have a problem!
Many parents are increasingly finding themselves in this situation. The question is what to do?
If your child is in the early stages of playing computer games NOW is the time to act. Don’t fall for ‘just another 5 minutes’ or ‘everyone else’s parents lets them’. Educate them. Discuss addictions – all sorts and teach them good cyber behaviour from the start. Once they are 18 you will have little control so it is imperative that you focus on the early years. Make sure these addictive games are not played in the early years. When and if you do introduce them make sure that they are; age appropriate, that there are time limits and rules, that the computer is publicly located and that there is lots of discussion. Never allow a computer in the bedroom. It is your lap top or mobile device: you own it and you make the rules. Turn off the wireless particularly at night if you feel that you cannot trust your child. Some teens play games at 3am in the morning with teens in the UK or the States who are just getting home from school! Many teens, particularly boys, will beg, and nag parents to purchase games like Call of Duty. Don’t fall for this. Remember that most of these are not age appropriate.
If things are at, or are nearing a crisis stage, parents could consider making an appointment with a psychologist for their child or in extreme cases look at rehabilitation centres such as Teen Challenge for teenagers addicted to computer games. Teen Challenge is a centre for teens with drug and alcohol addictions but has recently had to consider creating a program for teens with gaming addictions. These addictions start with 2 hours and can extend to 18 hours a day with teens playing competitors in other times zones far into the night. World of Warcraft and Call of Duty are considered two of the most compelling.
To read more click here: Video games addicts sent to rehab centre Teen Challenge | Herald Sun.