It’s just a harmless game, right?
Which gamer lives at your house?
The Casual Gamer
Your child likes to play video games but he likes other activities as much or more. He is balanced and you are not worried!
The At-Risk Gamer
The shift away from casual play is starting. His gaming is on the list of the top three things he likes to do with his time. You have a gut feeling that something isn’t quite right, and he may be headed toward addiction.
The Addicted Gamer
Your child has arrived at the point of being dependent on gaming to function in his life. You are losing your son. You know that he has a problem, but you don’t know what to do; you fear it may be too late.
For a more detailed list, review The Spectrum of Video Gaming Activity: From Casual Use to Addiction compiled by Dr. Victoria Dunckley and Melanie Hempe.
As an additional resource, take a look at Dr. Doug Gentile’s Video Game Addiction Questionnaire.
So how did you get here?
It is estimated that over 90% of American youth are playing video games. For some, gaming is a balanced pastime, but for others, it becomes an obsession that slowly starts to replace other activities and tear their life and their families apart.
As parents, we convince ourselves that all kids play video games. It is part of our culture so it must be okay. How does the obsession start?
iPad in the crib
Mom’s phone at the grocery store
Playing “Early Learning” games
Minecraft replaces real Lego play
1st time porn viewing
Aggression and anger outbursts over gaming
Advanced “Mature” multi-player games
Games become an escape from reality
Conflict at home over gaming increases
Gaming replaces other hobbies and sports
Spending less time in real life
The Physical Effects of Gaming on the Body
Watch this powerful interview with Jane Pauly on the physical effects of gaming on blood pressure and heart rate.
Kids are at war IN the game. Parents are at war WITH the game. But the game is WINNING.
A video compilation review of some of today’s games from Dr. Andrew Doan including scenes from Minecraft, Call of Duty, and Grand Theft Auto. Then hear from Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman on the psychology behind violent video games and how its impacting our kids.
Escaping Video Game Addiction
Warning Signs of Overuse & Addiction
Begs to play
Only thing that motivates him
Takes iPad to bed
Prefers game over other activities
Rather stay inside than play outside
Sneaks screen time
Doesn’t want to play with friends
May wet pants when playing
Talks about game achievement all the time
Wants to game right after school
Rushed through homework to get to game
Prefers game over other social activities
Spends time on YouTube researching game cheats
Writes papers and projects about video game
Chooses gaming inside rather than outdoor play
Underachieving in school, no interest in school
Says he is learning computer “code”
May throw the controller if he gets mad at game
Games when he is bored, tired, lonely, hungry
May cry if he can’t play
More stress and conflict at home
You are having arguments with spouse
Private. You don’t know what he is playing
Most of their friends are gamers
He has lied about how much he is playing
He has charged your credit card without asking
Socially delayed, not dating, not driving, no job
Misses family events and meals to game
Anger outburst, rages, hurting property or others
Can’t list three things he likes more than his game
Underdeveloped empathy, lack of compassion
Parents are worried that gamer will hurt them if they take game away
“You will never be able to achieve anything truly great if you spend all of your time playing video games.”
—Adam Brooker, former gamer
Hi, I’m Adam. At the time of writing this, I am 24 years old and I am a Sergeant in the US Army. My MOS is 11B (Infantry) which is probably what you think of if you ever hear someone say they are in the military. I’m the guy who thought it would be a good idea to go on patrols and try to find people to shoot at me so that I can shoot back at them. I am currently in the 82nd Airborne Division so my job, being an Infantryman, is literally to jump out of an airplane behind enemy lines and kill everyone that isn’t wearing the same uniform as me. So kind of like Call of Duty in real life… Read more
Why Kids Play Video Games
How I Got Started in Gaming
Aren’t Games Educational?
Games and Pornography
Video Game Solutions...So Now What?
- The first thing we recommend is to reset your home and habits. This means making changes that will reduce your screen interactions and replace them with healthier family attachment activities. We suggest reading The ScreenStrong Solution to get you started!
- After you’ve reset your habits, you’ll be looking for things to do, and so will your kids. Check out our tips for parents to find alternative activities for your family.
- Join the ScreenStrong community by following us on Facebook, Instagram, or by starting a ScreenStrong Group with your closest friends.
He is having fun and it’s a cheap/easy babysitter. Yes, gaming is fun and because it is designed to be such an addictive activity using it for a babysitter can cause many problems. Once your child is hooked it can be very hard to keep it balanced. PLAY now and more than likely you will PAY later when he wants to quit other
The game is making him so tech savvy, he will need that skill in his future job. The skills he will need more in a future job are real life skills that are rare, valuable, and not found on a video game. He is not learning code, self control, or how to hold down a job.
He is going to be a game designer. If he is going to be a game designer, he will need much more experience with art, music, teamwork, project planning, communication skills, physics, math, and physical science. His excess hours on a game will not help with those skills.
His teacher said he has a “gift” for learning code. Great. Put him in some code classes but keep an eye on what he is doing–most gamers say they have a gift for code. If he truly does, sign him up for a foreign language too, that is a huge asset in the workplace.
He is safe when he is on his game at least I know where he is. He is not safe on his game. He is meeting people you don’t know and involved in a world you may know nothing about. He would be better off developmentally to get off hs game and get some life experience even if it includes “dangerous activities” like asking a girl out or learning a new sport of driving a car.
Dad plays with him and it’s their only bonding time. If this is their only bonding time, then that is a problem. While you are happy that they have something that they like to do together, it is a very addictive form of entertainment, just like gambling, and it is more dangerous for a young brain. Set up a plan to go outside and ride bikes, hike, hunt, play sports, an hour for every game hour. That will keep it a bit more in balance. If your son shows signs of addiction then dad needs to lead and help him develop other hobbies.
He is shy, and it is his only outlet. Is he shy or is he just rude and lazy? Gaming is isolating and removes your son from the practice of real-life encounters; if he doesn’t practice real life, he will not be good at it.
He struggles socially, and I don’t want him to be left out of his friend group. Find another friend group if his only group of friends are gamer friends. This is an addiction warning sign.
He is obsessed now, but I’m sure he will outgrow it. He will not outgrow it. What he loves now is what he is “paving” for the future. He will not all of a sudden get interested in other activities if he isn’t now. Remember that gaming is very “chemically” addictive and because of the neuronal involvement and early rewiring, addictions started in childhood are almost impossible to break later.
If I don’t let him play now, he will binge in college. In college, he will continue to enjoy and build on the activities that he built a foundation for as a child. If he is only good at gaming, he will game in college. If he is good at other things he will do those.
It’s just a harmless game. Gaming is not harmless. While it is a fun exciting entertainment activity for boys, there is a fine line between keeping it that way and entering the addictive side of gaming. Watch for signs of addiction and be prepared to pull him back if he can’t keep it balanced. Every “activity” has a potential risk and downside–know what they are for gaming.
- Excerpt from Dr. Dunckley’s book, Reset Your Child’s Brain
- Read: Open Letter to a Gamer, a sample letter written to a gamer explaining reasons for taking a break from video games
- Video Game Addiction Quiz enhanced by FMM to help parents further evaluate the level of gamer in their home.
- Read Hooked on Games, by Dr. Doan