You may or may not know this. My 21 year old son committed suicide in front of his computer, with the Everquest game on it.
Since that happened, I have found out that these are more than just GAMES. They can become another life! They range from games that have been designed for entertainment and fun, to games that are violent and still other games that have been designed by people with degrees in psychology to make them most addictive.
These are suggestions you can use to help your child return to his/her real life:
1) Talk to your child. Find out why they like the game so much. Nothing pleases a
child more than to fill in a parent on what is exciting in their lives. It all begins
with one little phrase: "Honey, you seem to be spending an awful amount of time
playing that game, and me and your Dad are a little concerned. Your grades are
dropping, you aren't getting any sleep, and you don't seem to be interested in
anything besides this game. Is there anything wrong? We really want to help."
Sometimes just the thrill of the forbidden keeps people going...deal with it head
on. Yes, the kid will probably be mad, but parents aren't friends. They are
SHOW YOUR CHILD THAT YOU ARE TAKING ALL OF HIS ACTIVIES
SERIOUS, INCLUDING HIS COMPUTER USE!
2) Participate in what your child does. Show interest to what your child is interested in and support this interest as much as possible. Start a character, and learn your child's character's name. Meet your child on their own more comfortable ground, and there discover what is paining them. Why is he/she running away from their real life? Bond with your child. You CAN use this as a tool!
Have your child help you do this. You need to find out about the game, learn
about their gamers characters, the guild, the server, and everything else you can.
There is a way to log what your child is doing on the game. Find out how to
turn logging on! This is absolutely critical for you to do this. You need to meet
his "friends" on the game. If you have questions about ANY game post them in our General Discussion section.
Direct the posts to gamers.
Also, do talk about the game with your child. Take an interest in it, as you would
take an interest in any sport or extra activity your loved one could be involved in.
This is more than a game to them. It can be a desperate way to escape their real
life. It can also be used as a social activity for them, and needs to be treated with
as much concern. They ARE playing these games with other ADULTS.
PLEASE BE AWARE OF THIS! It is like dropping your child off at a tavern and
leaving him/her there, with other adults and with no protection from you.
I realize it will take up a lot of your time to do this, but in the end, you will have
better results. The gamer will feel included in your life, and you will be able to
talk with him/her on their level, with the game. Ask them who they are mobbing.
Log into the game, with your own character. Go on raids with them. Find out
who their friends are.
3) These games are no longer just games. The gamers can be VERY cruel to each
other. Peer pressure is now used in these games to keep people playing longer, so
the gaming companies can make more money. They have created them, so the
"GROUP" or guild cannot advance, unless all members are there. If your child is
not playing, they will ridicule him/her. That is why you need to be there, to see
what is happening in the game.
4) Educate your self about these games. They are no longer JUST GAMES.
Like beverage, that range from water to Everclear (which is 190 proof alcohol)
and drugs, which range from aspirin to Methane, Morphine, Cocaine,
games range from games made just for fun (like solitaire, or Mario Brothers games - donkey kong, etc.) to games that have been designed by game developers with degrees in psychology "to push Internet gaming to new heights by creating and maintaining highly addictive, immersive and persistent gaming environments" (this is a quote from Sony On-Line president, John Smedley).
Beware, that some of these games do play MIND games with the person involved.
They are designed that way, and need to be treated serious by the person playing them and their family and friends..
5) Visit our website: On-Line Gamers Anonymous.
Read the suggestions for gamers on the website.
On the message board, have the gamer read other stories posted by gamers.
It is very comforting to know that they are not alone in this crisis.
As a family member, you can go to the family section and read and
share your concerns there.
We also have a "Gaming News" forums under the Outreach section, which has more information.
6) You as a parent, - be there for your child. Let them know that you will be home
for them every night, whether it's to help them with homework or to just hang
out. If your only home on the weekends get a new job.
Your child could be going through one of life's "passages". There is an
incredible amount of pressure on the 18-25 crowd, and some people are unable
to handle it. His/her avoidance to his/her life may be his/her way of coping with a
lot of fear - not knowing about his future, not wanting to leave his past, not even
knowing what he wants his present to be anymore. Escaping is much easier than
answering questions like that.
No one talks about this and there is little to no support for youngsters going
through this. Be there for him/her, and search a little. If the opportunity presents
itself, talk to him/her about college. What does he want to do with his life?
Has it changed? Does he/she even know? Most parents don't ask these of their
high school seniors - after all, they've already got it figured out and have typically
been accepted to a college. It's after things seem final and unchangeable that they
also seem the scariest.
7) Have a "family night", and showing up, IS a requirement of ALL family
members. Do something to steer your child's activity to something other than
the computer. We always rented a movie and had popcorn together on Friday
night. It became a "tradition". NO other plans were made by anyone in the
family on that night.
8. Keep the computer in a place where you can see them! Get the computer out of
the bedrooms. Put it in a social gathering area of the family.
9) Get him/her involved in something in real life that is more appealing than this.
Find out what ELSE your child likes, and start doing it with him/her.
Expect responsibility of him/her while still letting him find that "balance" between gaming and real life himself/herself, if he/she can.
10) Get rid of the cable modem or DSL and put in a slow dial up modem instead.
It is pretty much impossible to play on-line games. You still have access to the
internet, and you no longer have to worry about my other children getting
involved in the games.
11) What keeps a person playing these games, is the support group around the person.
If you want someone to stop an addictive behavior, remove their support system
that enables the behavior. Take a look at your own part in this. What are you
doing, so this person can continue to play? How are you "enabling" this
behavior? Stop cleaning, paying his/her bills, feeding them. Get them
and you professional help with this.
12) If your child is unsure of what he/she will be doing in their future, have you
considered a military venue? That really helps the boys grow into men, and
helps them become responsible adults, like no parent or school ever will. After
that, they really do appreciate what they have at home (and not just the gaming).
13) Get involved in your Church. The family that prays together, stays together.
Ask your God/Higher Power for help with this.
14) Have you tried using gaming controls? Look on the web. Go to Best Buy or
Circuit City. They sell software that lets you as a parent, control and monitor your computer.
15) Change the password to get on to your internet connection Some ISPs even have
timers in the kid controls, I believe.
16) Change the password to the game to one that only you know. That way said child
can play when you are in attendance and you know that they are online.
17) The game MUST be paid for via credit card or a game card. Do you know how
they spend their money if they are getting game cards? Otherwise, you are paying
for it with your own credit card. If you perceive the game to be a problem, simply
don't pay for it.
18) Start keeping a daily log, of EVERY time your child logs on to the computer
and when he/she logs out. You may need to get a camera, and put a clock
near him, so you have it on camera. My son was playing, when I was sleeping
or at work, so I did not even know it. Log what family events they miss by their
gaming. Log what they do in their real life, every day. Have this documented.
Than show it to your child. You will have a written document that he/she can see
what they are missing, in black and white. Total the number of hours per day.
Make this document as clear as possible so they can really see the impact the gaming is
having on their real life.
19) If need be, to help your child get a more balanced life, seek help from a professional therapist or counselor who treats this gaming compulsion SERIOUSLY. BRING THE LOG you created, in the step above, with you, so everyone can see what is really happening here! Here is a link with professional therapists who treat gaming issues that we have found: p198.ezboard.com/folgafrm23
Here are suggestions written by other parents who have been through this:
Parents suggestions "What to do when teens become "addicted" to gaming:
1) 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.
Research was done on the internet about gaming addiction and this is what was found.
Parents and teachers often comment that "kids become absolutely wired" when absorbed in video games. 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."
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 job
Another article about gaming addiction says this:
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.
2) I'm not a parent but I cover parenting issues for the Mercury News, and this is one of the first stories I wrote for the paper two years ago (Entranced by Electronics, March 2000, you can find it on the web www.mercurycenter.com.) All of the experts (including parents who experienced what you describe) said the best way to cure kids' video game addiction is to set strict limits. They suggested not allowing kids to have computers, PlayStations, TVs, etc. in their bedrooms if monitoring their behavior is a problem. One family whose teenage son was lying etc. to play games, got fed up and took all of his electronic toys away. This devastated the kid at first, but the family substituted with homework, extra curricular activities, church and other outings, so that by the end of the day there simply was no time left for video games. Once they were sure he was cure of the obsession they eased up a bit and I think now allow him to play games occasionally over at friends houses.
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.
3) 15-year-old can't get up in the morning:
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.
At some point teens will have to take responsibility for actions such as not getting up on time -- flunking college classes and getting fired from jobs. But for now, if the radio and computer are tempting him to stay up too late then take them away until the weekend. He may throw a huge fit, but he had the opportunity to make a mature decision about bedtime and clearly he is not yet mature enough. Tell him when he thinks he is mature enough you will let him manage his own time again. LC
Computer over-use has been a serious problem for my 17-year-old for the past several years. I learned it is an addiction from advice I got in this newsletter. My son plays online games and will play for 12 or 14 hours straight, every single day if no one objects, playing from the time he wakes up till he falls asleep in the early hours of the morning. He'll skip meals to play. He will wait till we have gone to bed and then play games till 3 or 4 in the morning every single night. Of course he cannot get up at 7am to go to school. For the past two years he's had a more amenable schedule at Berkeley Independent Studies with all appointments scheduled for after 1pm. He has never been very academically motivated, and the computer addiction greatly exacerbated the academic problem. He is no longer in school - he is waiting to take the high school equivalency exam. He is a good kid, sweet, and he has other (non-academic) interests and talents besides the computer. His social life comes ahead of computer games, so the problem is not completely desperate, but computer use continues to be a big big problem. It uses up all his time and keeps him from other activities like music and recreation. He is not writing computer programs or being otherwise creative. He is playing games for hours and hours on end.
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.
Edited by: lizwool at: 6/12/05 7:11