Parent of teen with Xbox addiction

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LPieleski
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Parent of teen with Xbox addiction

I am new to this site. I have a 16 yr old son that is probably border-line addicted to gaming. I am not familiar with some of the terminology like WoW, etc but he is on X-box live, for over a year now and does not have much of a social life beyond that which is very concerning to me and my husband (his Dad). He is hooked up to our TV in the downstairs fam room which is out in the open but he pretty much owns that TV now. He talks to his "friends" from all different states and one or two of them even call on the phone now. When he isnt on the Xbox, he doesnt know what to do with himself and I almost prefer it when he is on it because at least he is not annoying me - and that makes me feel guilty! He only has a cpl of friends and if they come over they only do the same thing- play xbox. We let him have a "sleepover" on NY Eve and I had to promise I wouldnt give him a time limit so I didnt say anything figuring they have to get tired eventually - wrong! Him and his friend (who brings over his own TV) stayed up all night until he had to go home at 9 am the next morning.
This is why I will not let him have "sleepovers" normally because there is no sleeping involved and he doesnt understand why that is a problem. He sais all his friends get to do what they want and they make fun of him that we make him get off at 11pm every night which I think is ridiculous because I still think 11pm is too late on a school nite but we give it to him anyway.
He was playing ice hockey and really enjoyed it but it is only about 1 game every 2 weeks or so and now it may be ending altogether. He does have a job also at a supermarket - works about 8 hrs/wk and takes a spanish class two nights a week at the technical hs he attends. He has always had good grades so up until now I always passed this off as a phase he will grow out of and I also use the excuse "at least we know where he is and what he is doing...." and "he is a good kid, doesnt get into trouble..." Lately his grades are falling (although still not bad) and he is not working to his potential. He is a Jr in HS and sais he wants to go to college and that really worries me because he shows no ambition and wont even discuss colleges yet. Right now we dont feel he has the motivation or the study skills it takes to go to college so his future is a big question mark.
My husband sees this as a BIG problem and is ready to just take everything away, where I try to find a happy medium somewhere. I dont think doing something drastic is the answer, but setting limits doesnt work well with him either- we get into major battles with screaming, etc. He also has anger issues - which is why I started my son in therapy about 2 months ago but that is a VERY SLOW process. I guess my problem is I dont know how far to take this. Do we stop it altogether or just try and set limits? Either way its a battle and a half!
That is my story or at least part of it. Some of the other msg boards Ive read sound very familiar, so if anyone has any advice or just wants to share, I'd appreciate it. I guess the reason I am on this site is that I feel alone in this - noone else I know has this type of problem and its hard for anyone else to understand if they dont live with it.

Diggo McDiggity
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Re: Parent of teen with Xbox addiction

Hi LPieleski and welcome. You are not alone in this, there are countless parents like you, who are trying to deal with their kids' obsessions with video games. Here are a couple things I got from your post:

Quote:

He is hooked up to our TV in the downstairs fam room which is out in the open but he pretty much owns that TV now.

Unless he paid for it, YOU are the parent and you own the television. He is using it because you allow him to, and if you don't want him using it or feel he is playing his Xbox too much, then YOU have the right and responsibility to not let him use it.

Quote:

We let him have a "sleepover" on NY Eve and I had to promise I wouldnt give him a time limit so I didnt say anything figuring they have to get tired eventually

YOU had to promise? You are the adult - He needs to understand that he has his play time because you allow it to happen.

Quote:

He sais all his friends get to do what they want and they make fun of him that we make him get off at 11pm every night which I think is ridiculous because I still think 11pm is too late on a school nite but we give it to him anyway.

No one likes to see their children made fun of, but he'll get over it. Seriously. 11pm is way too late for a school night. But again, you relinquish control to your child.

Quote:

I also use the excuse "at least we know where he is and what he is doing...." and "he is a good kid, doesnt get into trouble..."

Some of the worst stories we've heard in the OLGA forums were where parents said, "at least we know where he is." You know he is physically there, but where is his mind, who is he talking to and about what? What things is he learning and what plans is he making and with whom, for the next day when he's not home and playing?

Quote:

Right now we dont feel he has the motivation or the study skills it takes to go to college so his future is a big question mark.

Keep this in mind the next time you feel bad thinking that his friends will make fun of him or when you see him playing his Xbox instead of studying. If you enable him to play, to stay out late or do other things instead of focus on school, then you are contributing to his failure. I know this sounds harsh, and I'm sorry.

Quote:

I dont think doing something drastic is the answer, but setting limits doesnt work well with him either- we get into major battles with screaming, etc.

I disagree. I think something drastic is the answer. Your son only has a few more years at home and this will be the last chance you have to help him get his head in the right spot about his responsibilities. Once he's an adult, the amount of effect you'll have as a parent will drop considerably and then he's on his own and whatever happens to him, you'll be asking yourself as a parent, "Did I do the best I could to raise him properly?" If you spend the rest of your life wondering if you should have made him get to bed earlier, or taken your family room TV back to teach him about responsibility, or done other things differently, it will drive you crazy. But, you're a parent, so you will be doing that anyway. Look, I'll admit that I'm not a parent, but I hope that won't invalidate the things I've said. You are a parent, and from my perspective, you've done what many other parents are doing. You're giving far too much control to your child and kids will take advantage of every opportunity to the fullest, even if it's to their own detriment. Parents have to play the "bad guy" by setting boundaries and limits to the activities that their children do for the benefit of the children. The kids don't understand why until they are older or are parents themselves, then they wake up one day and say, "Ah.. that is what mom meant, or that is why mom didn't let me do this or that." The essence I got from your post is that you and your husband constantly give in to your son and allow him to control you, instead of the other way around. You say that setting limits doesn't work because you get into major battles with screaming, etc., and he has anger issues. He's just like a 2 year old who cries and screams to get what he wants. It's just scarier now that he's 16, but it's still the same. He has learned it gets him what he wants and it sounds like it does. I think it's good that he's in therapy, but I think you might want to get some help yourself in how to deal with him over the next two formative years of his life while he's still somewhat within your realm of control. I know I gave my parents a hell of a time when I was that age. As an adult now, I've come to regret it and see the wisdom of the limits my parents put on the things I did. I'm glad they did, or something bad might have happened. I hope you won't be offended by my candidness, and you are right. I can't really understand it because I haven't lived with it as a parent. I'm sure other parents here could probably lend their insight as I'm sure they have lived with it. Ron

Co-Founder of OLGA and member since 2002

LPieleski
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Re: Parent of teen with Xbox addiction

I appreciate your honesty and am not offended by it in any way. I am at the point where I need someone to tell me these things so I can re-evaluate everything and work towards a solution. The therapy we have our son in will also be for us so I do feel that is a step in the right direction. It is very interesting to re-read the quotes you hilighted and see them in a different way. You are probably right that we need to make more drastic changes and that is what scares me. Part of me feels like a failure in not being more strict from the beginning and maybe that is why he got to this point, but it is easy to get lost in today's way of thinking that "he could be doing worse things..." I realize that we are not perfect parents and I do feel that we have been doing the best that we knew how but now I know its time to do better - which is why I am on this site. I know its time for "tough love" and that is going to be the hardest part of being a parent. I would be interested in hearing from other parents also but I value and thank you for your comments.

Gamersmom
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Re: Parent of teen with Xbox addiction

Welcome to Olganon. I am a parent of a 20-year-old who is addicted to WoW (aka World of Warcraft, or World of Warcrack, as we call it here---I don't know if you can play that on an Xbox, but it's one of the most addictive games out there). Don't beat yourself up about the past. This gaming addiction thing sorta snuck up on all of us. Who knew that games were being specifically designed to require longer and longer play sessions to continue to advance and succeed in the game? We were all taught that it is drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and promiscuity that we have to watch out for, and if our kids were doing none of the above, we felt like we were doing the right thing. I kept controls on my son while he was home, but when he went to college the addiction got completely out of control and cost me $13,000 in wasted tuition and fees.
Ron is right. The past is past, but you have to take control now and have the fortitude to stand up to this kid. It's incredibly tough to stand there nose to nose with the kid and hear him scream at you that he hates you, but that's what parents are for. This addiction can be FATAL if allowed to continue past the point where you have control over the kid (see Liz's story--she founded this site after her son committed suicide over a game). You could be saving his LIFE to get him unhooked now while he's young. This is an incredibly tough job. Some things to help you:
1. Three books: Parenting with Love and Logic andParenting Teens With Love and Logic, by Foster Cline and Jim Fay, and Kids are Worth it, by Barb Coloroso. Very helpful in dealing with kids of all ages.
2. Come here often. We will all help give you the strength to deal with this and make the tough decisions. This is an incredibly supportive bunch here, and I don't know what I would do without them.
As of right now, the use of the Xbox should be contingent on him maintaining whatever GPA you feel he is capable of achieving, and 10 PM is bedtime regardless. That was always a rule in our house. In bed at 10PM. Sleep or don't sleep, but the only other options were to read or listen to the radio. These games play havoc with sleep ccles, BTW.
If he has trouble with limits, he is addicted and may need to stop altogether. WoWParent sent her kid to a wilderness program and he is now in a therapeutic boarding school. You still have control until he's 18. Use it while you have it.
Oh, one more thing. Don't be afraid to call your kid's friends' parents and compare notes. I have found over the years that what other kids tell your kid they are allowed to do at home is often a pack of lies, and there are some parents out there who are even stricter than you are. Cultivate them as friends.

"Small service is true service while it lasts.  Of humblest friends, bright creature! scorn not one

The daisy, by the shadow that it casts,

Protects the lingering dewdrop from the sun." -------William Wordsworth

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From the Parent of a Teen Addict

My son is 17. A I read your entire post a couple of times. A I appreciate Ron's comments, but perhaps I can lend some insight from a different perspective. A First of all, it's hard to start restrictions once your son is, size-wise, almost grown. A Our son's gaming compulsion didn't begin until he was in finishing his 9th grade year. A By that time, he was already much bigger than his dad and a lineman on the football team. A Prior to that, we had never had a moment's problem with disrespect of any kind. A When a kid who towers over you says NO, it's not the same as when they're small. A For us, it was not only shocking, but scary. A And not to sound like a broken record, but prior to the first removal of our son's game, we never heard him cuss, he never said NO. A In fact, he was the kid that was admired by the other parents for his respectful behavior. If there are major battles about setting resctrictions on gaming, then I must agree that your son has crossed the line into addiction. A That is exactly where we were with ours. A The fact that he has "anger issues" and has been in therapy for 2 months is another identical scenario. But here is the bad news...I can't offer any advice for how to deal with those problems. A They will continue, and escalate, each time you take the game away and/or restrict it. A But there is one place where each of us parents agrees 100%. A You and your husband must present a unified front, and you must remove the game forever. A Yes, FOREVER. A As a counselor once told us, you wouldn't allow your alcoholic teen to drink just one beer every so often, or your drug-addicted teen to snort a line every once in a while. A It's the same thing with gaming...you can't have just a little. A The flip side is, alcoholics must learn to be in environements with alcohol, but make the choice not to participate. A Food addicts have to grocery shop, but make the right food choices. There is a component of online games that is different from others, in that there is a social aspect which appeals to these kids. A Do not, under any circumstances, let your child replace X-Box Live with a PC based MMORPG (Massive, Multiplayer, On-Line Role Playing Game.) A Our son thought X-Box Live was boring...his "drug" of choice was World of Warcraft (aka WoW). A Others are Everquest, Never Winter Knights...I'm sure the other members of this forum can provide a list for you. My husband played the mediator for over a year. A I wanted to cut our son off at the first sign of addiction, but my husband honestly believed that he had to learn to moderate his usage. A That resulted in another huge issue in our family, since our son quickly picked up on the fact that it was a bone of contention between us and used it to create and ever-growing wedge. I know what you are facing and my heart aches for you. A We saw a psychiatrist, therapists, school counselors, tried medications, tried parental controls, met with teachers, hired tutors. A We took parenting classes, paid for online parenting advice, and spent almost every minute we were driving listening to parenting tapes. A We watched parenting videos and put everything we had learned into practice. A We enrolled him in a fitness program. A Our son knew his school work was important to us so he wielded it like a sword. A When we took the game away, he refused to engage in school and purposely failed. A Oh, he went to class. A But he just sat there and refused to do any work, either in school or out of school. Do not mediate!!!! A Get rid of the television and destroy the connections. A Cancel the account. A You may succeed, if you start right now. A TODAY! The day before our son's 17th birthday, he told his father that he was taking control of his life and that we couldn't stop him from playing. A He had learned to lie and steal to play. A His father finally saw the light and we removed the game from our house for the final time. A But we couldn't stop him from playing at friends' houses, bartering gift cards for cash and creating a new account, nor from hacking into the wireless account of our next-door neighbor. Ten days after his 17th birthday, we had our son taken away; he spent 9 weeks in wilderness therapy. A He accepted that his behavior was wrong, but still wanted to play WoW. A We had him moved to a therapeutic boarding school, where he will remain for the next 18 months, minimum. A We believe this is our only hope to save his life and his future. A Finally, we believe he is starting to get the picture, since he is with other addicts (drugs, alcohol, etc.) and is following the 12-Step Program. A The Serenity Prayer is his favorite. A We will talk to him for the first time next week. The most important piece of all this is that you and your husband are a single unit and that you never waiver. A My hopes and prayers are with you. A Please let me know how things progress.

Diggo McDiggity
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Re: Parent of teen with Xbox addiction

In the past 4 years since we started OLGA, I've never seen parents talking together and sharing here as they have over the past few months...comparing notes, as Gamersmom says.A What usually happened is one frustrated and confused parent would come here looking for advice - The rest of us did the best we could trying to share our perspective on things but it was never the same not coming from another parent who has been there, done that. Liz is a parent of course, but her voice was often solitary. Hearing the parent's perspective from numerous voices lends credence to the argument that this is a real and serious problem. Even if you have made mistakes as a parent, as long as your decisions and actions came from a place of love and concern for your children, and were the best decisions you feel you could have made, then you have nothing to feel sorry for. One of the reasons I don't have children is because I've always doubted my ability to make good decisions and raise them properly in a world I've always felt challenged by. But that is my karma to deal with. Ron

Co-Founder of OLGA and member since 2002

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Re: Parent of teen with Xbox addiction

((((WoWParent)))))) Hope things go well when you get to talk to your son next week.

"Small service is true service while it lasts.  Of humblest friends, bright creature! scorn not one

The daisy, by the shadow that it casts,

Protects the lingering dewdrop from the sun." -------William Wordsworth

LPieleski
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Re: Parent of teen with Xbox addiction

I really appreciate everyone's responses. Yesterday I made a decision to make some changes. I informed my son that there were new rules regarding his use of Xbox and told him his new limit on weeknights would be 8pm and on weekends only 2 hrs ea on Sat/Sun. I purposely left room for bargaining which he did not know. His immediate reaction was anger and total disrepespect, and he didnt believe we would follow throught with it. When I informed him we were prepared to disconnect the internet if needed he started to get scared and then had a crying fit saying we couldnt do that to him. At one point he was threatening to leave and never come back and I told him go ahead, there's the door... Then when my husband got home he threatened to quit his job because he knows how much his Dad wants him to work and figured he could play this card too (this really killed me that he thought HE had the right to threaten US). Well, we managed to get him to calm down and then we all sat down and had a nice long discussion about our expectations for him and how things need to change. The end result ended up being the weeknight limit will be 10pm instead of 11 but we will be watching the amount of time he is on it and if he doesnt take breaks we will be telling him he needs to take one and for how long. If he gives us a hard time even once, the weeknight limit will go down immediately. He also needs to have all his homework done first and needs to keep his grades up. He has to be respectful and if he mouths off even once, same punishment. OK this all sounds great but we know he will probably break one of the rules the first week and we have to be prepared to follow through. Heres the two things that worry/bother me the most:
1) We have to be willing to take away the internet completely which means noone else in the house has access either meaning myself and my daughter who is a Sr.- which means we get punished too. and 2) what is he going to do with his time???? I have thought about this over and over and over and talked to him about it and he said he has friends at school but does not like to socialize outside of school because there is nothing to do. He is not into girls yet (which is OK with me) and does not like just "hanging out" at malls. Occasionally he would see a movie but he cant do that every week. Also he will probably quit his job in retaliation and that just means more time on his hands. So the big question on my mind is what will take the place of his addiction? Well, I guess I'm about to find out so wish us luck!

Gamersmom
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Re: Parent of teen with Xbox addiction

Good for you!! Sticking to your guns will be hard and require an incredible amount of energy and stamina. Hang in there. Several folks on this forum have suggested going back to a dial-up connection for internet. Allows you to read e-mail OK and do some basic stuff, but he won't be able to play games. It will be hard on your daughter, but only for a few months and then she will presmably be off to college where she will have 24/7 high-speed right next to her bed. As for what to do to fill the time, perhaps he could take up paintball or RC flying (RC flying is kind of an expensive hobby, but then so is wasted college tuition). Those are the things my son does. Lots of young men play poker. If they keep the stakes small nobody loses too much. Does he have friends who play? Get him to the library and have him start reading. Does he play sports? Dad's going to need to get involved too. I bought my son a copy of "Electronics for Dummies" for Christmas and I'm hoping he and his Dad can find a project in there to do together. They're both into that kind of stuff. Spring will be here in a few months, or if you're lucky enough to live in the South....hiking? fishing? camping? rock climbing? He won't do it on his own to begin with. You'll have to prod him quite a bit. Good luck. Come here often whenever you need emotional support

"Small service is true service while it lasts.  Of humblest friends, bright creature! scorn not one

The daisy, by the shadow that it casts,

Protects the lingering dewdrop from the sun." -------William Wordsworth

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Re: Parent of teen with Xbox addiction

Working on getting our son out of his addiction too. (which he refuses to believe is an addiction), but some things that give me hope for reintroducing balance are that it is fairly easy to get him to accept, even enjoy some of the things he liked doing more "before the game was the most important thing in his life". Have your son get involved in helping to determine these things. have him try to make a list of 10 other things he likes to do, and then be willing to put some time and money into ones that look like unrelated to gaming. Remember that the one thing most kids crave the most is really quality time with important adults (parents, grandparents, maybe even teachers, coaches etc) Our son like to play pick up indoor soccer with friends, (one of whom he got into the game, but now has girlfriend and "other life" but still likes to do other things with the still left in game friends and is a good organizer. (for bowling, poker etc)) Does your son have a semi/old friend like this you can cultivate? (btw, I would recommend poker just for chips, not value since those with one addiction can be predisposed to others and just as/more fun). learn some more family card games, by books for him even if they are Manga.
It really helps to allow your house to be the "fun" place for kids to hang out. (and ours is a safe one other parents trust: no alcohol accessible, parents always here if kids are, I cook lots of brownies, pizzas etc. Rent videos, rent a big screen projector (don't buy it so the xbox could be hooked up) Allow him to use the xbox unlimited for DDR (gets exercise and haven't seen anyone get truly addicted to that. (buy a "commercial "pad for this if he gets interested enough to wear out the cheap one) Hope these are some suggestions that will help. Make sure you let him know how great it is to get to do these things with him if he lets you be part of them, and let him have some safe space with friends.I also agree with suggestions re summer programs that are away from any connectedness to video input. (outward bound and a small one I've heard about called Adventure Game Theater that is real people cooperative life games come to mind. Start looking into these now for summer as spots fill quickly) Good luck in helping him discover the rest of life.

"a mind is a terrible thing to waste"

Diggo McDiggity
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Re: Parent of teen with Xbox addiction

Good job, LPieleski. I think it was great that you all sat down together to decide how to handle this. I hope everyone can stay committed...

Quote:

So the big question on my mind is what will take the place of his addiction?

I don't know every young person who plays excessively is necessarily an addict. Many young people when they get out of the home into college, start working more and getting new friends outgrow their gaming. I guess it really depends a lot on the social bonds they form in their workplace and other environments they spend time in. Many adults who are/were excessive/compulsive gamers are people who define themselves as people who never really fit into the social groups at school or the workplace. Online environments allow people of any personality type to fit in and find their place. Real life isn't so forgiving. There's something about the urgency of being out in the real world where one has to pay his own way that helps reset the priorities of *most* people. Ron

Co-Founder of OLGA and member since 2002

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Re: Parent of teen with Xbox addiction

I totally agree with everything that has been said about establishing limits and sticking to them. It sounds simple, yet it can be so difficult to do. I write my son almost daily, rethinking everything we went through. Each time I think about the times we tried to moderate, I end up in the same place. He was never satisfied with our limits, thinking them too restrictive, always wanting more time. I still wonder: How could a game be so important? High school athletes lose their ability to play through injury, sometimes forever. I haven't seen one kid in a cast insist on getting on the field. They sit it out, rather than damaging themselves further. Compulsive gamers don't seem able to do the same, voluntarily pulling themselves out of the game because of the damage it's causing or because the coach (a.k.a. parentals) insist. I hope that your limits work, and that you are able to uphold them. If not, please come to me for the strength to do so. How I wish we'd never negotiated when our son was 16. Your description of a crying fit, need to control, the threat to quit work, leave the house and never come back gave me a serious case of deja vu. Is that the son you know? I hope it stops here, and that you are not still dealing with this problem at 17, the way I was.

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Parent of teen with Xbox live addiction

Well I finally did it!  I took my sons Xbox away and destroyed it!! No more Xbox in our home.  My son only wants to play games does not interact with us he is very rude very angry when we tell him to help out in the house it’s a fight.   He answers back and disrespectful. I had it 

IP

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Well done Rebel for taking

Well done Rebel for taking back control in your home. A home is a safe haven. Parents should not tolerate stuff that they know is not helping their kids become responsibile young people.

 

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Update

I'd love to hear an update about your kids. Rebel1 what is your son like now?

when i take the Xbox away from my 16 year old son, he refuses to leave his room, attend school, eat with us, or do anything. He lays in his dark room, sleeps, he has an iPad and phone and watches movies. The longest he has remained in his room is 4 weeks. I'm not joking. The strain this has placed on our family is incredible. I want to take the Xbox forever but I think he will stay in his room forever

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