Helping your teen overcome video game addiction
A question from a concerned parent:
“My son is very bright and used to get great grades. Last year, he went down to a C average, so we moved him to an easier school. Now, he’s getting slightly better grades, but all he does is play video games.
It’s not affecting his schoolwork, but he doesn’t have a social life. What’s the best way to approach the situation?”
Dr. Jacob’s Answer
First, you need to know that usually, video games aren’t the root of the problem, they’re a symptom. We have rarely met a student that says they want to spend all their time playing video games. Usually students have higher aspirations.
However, when you see video games taking over a student’s life, it is only for a couple of reason’s:
- They don’t know what else to do. (i.e. it will take too much effort doing something else, they don’t know of anything that is enjoyable).
- They are mentally drained, and the only thing they can do is something that takes no mental power. (This could be due to emotional trauma, their physical body is fatigued, or their brain has been pushed to an extreme in school or for other reasons).
You should know that due to technology and social media, video games can be a way for your children to socialize, develop leadership and team building skills, and also find a place where they fit in. It is easier to fit in online, because online you can be anyone you want and you are not limited by your physical capabilities. Many times, no one knows who you really are, thus, you can pretend to be anyone you want. I am not saying this is the optimal way for your child to learn these things, but you need to know that video games nowadays offer this, and it is what draws many students to them.
You should also know it is very difficult for a child to listen to a parent about something like minimizing how much they play video games.
We would suggest approaching the situation as follows:
- Remind yourself that your child is doing the best they can.
- Get to know your child and observe them. You need to first figure out their reason for playing. In order to help your child you must first know how to.
- Find another adult that your child respects and has a good relationship with and have them mentor your child.
- Instead of trying to tell your child to minimize their playing, help them to find other options to fill the void that is pushing them to playing. As your child fills their life with other things that they want to do, they will slowly lose the urge to play video games as much.
As a young man in college, Coach David’s last thing on his mind was the long-term well-being of his young cousin.
With the help of Dr. Jacob, David was able to give his cousin the gentle touch he needed to find out what he loved to do.
(Spoiler: It wasn’t videogames!)
About the Author
Dr. Jacob is getting ready to publish a new parenting & teaching book! Sign up here to get updates and receive discounts on great books!
Dr. Jacob Kashiwagi is the Managing Director at KSM Inc., a consulting group tasked with helping large organizations and governments be more efficient. Dr. Jacob volunteers his time as the Chairperson of the Board at LSA.