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Ask Amy: Son’s Internet Addiction Has Parents Worried

By Amy Dickinson
Tribune Media Services

Posted: 04/18/2011 04:04:20 PM PDT
Updated: 04/18/2011 04:39:13 PM PDT

 

Dear Amy: My 18-year-old son is addicted to online gaming. He is in his first year of community college full time and living at home. He is failing his classes, spending all of his time gaming, does no homework, forgets to eat and plays all night instead of sleeping.

Until he was 18, we limited his computer time. But now we keep waiting for him to regulate it or work it out for himself. It’s not happening. What should we do? — Worried Parents

Dear Parents: Online gaming is your son’s drug of choice. The natural consequence of your son’s addiction is that he will not be able to find success in the actual world until he deals with his issues.

You need to have a heart-to-heart with him, and let him know how worried you are and what his choices are at this point.

Your son should be evaluated by a mental health practitioner with experience in treating gamers; he may have underlying issues or difficulties that make him lean toward gaming to the exclusion of everything else.

Your son won’t be able to modulate his behavior until he faces his compulsion.

Because he failed his classes, he should not return to school. He is not ready to pursue a college education. You should restrict online access at your home and help him look for a job.

For insight into this challenging issue, read “Cyber Junkie: Escape the Gaming and Internet Trap,” by Kevin Roberts (Hazelden Publishing, 2010).“Cyber Junkie: Escape the Gaming and Internet Trap,” by Kevin Roberts (Hazelden Publishing, 2010)When the Internet takes over your life When the Internet takes over your life it might be time for professional help.

(Amy Dickinson Tribune Media Services )

From Publishers Weekly

In Roberts’s sober personal account of addiction, he reveals a modern society completely inundated with electronics. We are embroiled in stimuli from texting, chatting, social networking, casual gaming, and massive multi-user role playing games that allow us to trade real life for highly stimulating virtual realities. For the majority of users, these stimuli provide a brief, entertaining diversion from the quotidian. But for some, it results in destroyed careers and relationships, and ruined lives. A recovering “cyber junkie” himself, Roberts outlines the ways in which game addiction occurs and manifests, and provides step-by-step strategies for concerned family members and friends who want to help their addicted loved ones recover. While cyber addiction is a decidedly modern phenomenon, the steps to recovery will be familiar to anyone with an even passing knowledge of AA, and readers will be forgiven for mistaking his intervention advice as something taken from a substance abuse tale. Roberts’s tale shines most when salaciously highlighting the myriad forms that cyber addiction takes, and when explaining the seductive allure of modern stimuli. Readers who can move past skepticism about cyber addiction will find Roberts’s tale disturbing and enlightening. (Sept.) (c)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Video Game Addiction: Help is on the Way

April 28, 2008

Kevin Roberts, a Michigan educator who specializes in Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and learning issues, is now conducting support groups for teens and adults who struggle with video game addiction. Roberts, himself a recovering video game addict, leads weekly groups which emphasize staying “sober,” setting goals and developing healthy behaviors.

Roberts’ meetings combine elements of 12-step groups, like Alcoholics Anonymous, with personal growth processes that stress accountability and responsibility.

Roberts encourages group members to support each other. “If you have an intense craving to play a game,” he tells his groups, “pick up the phone and call someone.” Roberts blames previous relapses in his own recovery from addictive gaming on his reluctance to seek support.

“Academic and professional failure await addicted gamers,” Roberts said, “even though many of them possess supremely imaginative minds. This vast waste of talent and potential is the great tragedy of video game addiction.”

In addition to leading support groups, Roberts facilitates family interventions. “Some video gamers spiral out of control,” Roberts said, “and many families need help to deal with the situation.” Roberts, who speaks at schools, conferences and community groups, discusses solutions and strategies in his forthcoming book.

Video Game Junkie: a Recovering Addict Helps You Understand, due out May 25, 2008.  Roberts was a teacher at the Roeper School for the gifted in Birmingham, Michigan and has been an ADD coach and educational consultant for ten years. He speaks five languages and has a one-man show, Confessions of a Self-Help Junkie, which will debut in November.

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