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Help- gaming addiction

(25 Posts)
HormonalHeap Sun 20-Sep-15 01:46:01

My son 15 is an addict. He is addicted to the Xbox. We have tried taking it and his other consoles away; he then turns violent and tonight spat at my husband, hid our car keys and our mobile phones. He has no care for hygiene, friends or his schoolwork which is suffering. I recently discovered he is gaming on his mobile most of the night.

I feel frightened as he has no future like this. He doesn't even want to be cured. Does anyone have any experience of this.

OP’s posts: |
Zinkies Sun 20-Sep-15 11:47:22

He probably sees hiding your car keys as a reasonable response to you hiding his Xbox. I think he doesn't think you have the right to do that. I think popular culture thinks you do but it's not very obvious. It's better not to have these conflicts in any case, obviously. It's not a question into which the usual means of resolving property conflicts - law - wants to enter.

Does he think that he is an addict or that his interest in video games is a problem? Do you think there's something particularly bad about video games? If he were, say, reading French novels most of the time, would you see that as a problem?

I think lack of hygiene can be a problem; have you explained to him why you think he's not washing enough? People go from not needing to wash in childhood to it being considered disgusting not to in adulthood. Learning about that is a part of growing up. Bear in mind that if you see yourself as someone who has the right to take away his property, it's impossible to also be a person who gives impartial, reasonable advice about hygiene. It is actually possible that he worries that while he's in the shower you will do something like take away his games, although I don't know if that's the case.

As for friends, do most adults have a lot of friends, or a "peer-group" who they have to please? Mostly they have a partner who they spend most of their time with. The idea that young people are supposed to be obsessed with having a lot of friends is a rather unique, cultural one, and indeed other parents on Mumsnet often post that they're worried that their child is too concerned with making and pleasing friends.

It's not clear how important schoolwork should be seen to be. Have you found out what his view on this is? Bear in mind that, again, by regarding yourself as someone who has the right to take away his stuff you make it very hard to have an open conversation about questions like this.

almostredundant Sun 20-Sep-15 19:37:23

I think I have to disagree with Zinkies.
Yes, it sounds as though you should be concerned. My son is 16 and has just done his GCSEs. He was disappointed with his grades (3A, 3B,3C). Every time I went in his room during study leave he was on his ps4. I made it clear that he is his own person, he knows how much work he had/hadn't done. He has a couple of friends at school who he games with and they all got lower grades yet were pleased with theirs...he has said they put pressure on for him to play. He has said if he doesn't play he feels like he will lose his friends. I have said that sometimes, although hard, no friends are better than bad friends.
Thankfully he has started lower 6th with a completely fresh way of working and has set himself some gaming time and is sticking to it. He seems a little more focused on his school work. Its tricky being a parent....we want to set boundaries and rules, that's our job/responsibility but we also have to trust our kids to be independent. Doesn't sound like yours is there yet with him being able to control his need to play v other responsibilities, I.e. school work, friends, washing.
Might be worth speaking to school to see if they can advise or suggest something. What about 'no gaming until....x, y,z is done'. and the x, y, z could be showwr, dinner, homewrok, etc. Might be harsh and back to basics with setting rules but maybe he needs that to break his cycle/addiction??
Hope that helps a little :-)

HormonalHeap Sun 20-Sep-15 20:04:42

Zinkies- no, I would not worry if he were reading French novels because as far as I know they don't induce violent behaviour. But yes, anything in such excess that it is plainly addiction I believe to be cause for worry- especially where it takes the place of human relationships and becomes the addict's only reason for being.

I also I have to say I think it's neither here nor there to ask if most adults have a lot of friends- ds doesn't have any, and surely hat can't be healthy? I don't think you understand that you cannot reason with an addict- when questioned, all answers will be in sympathy with their addiction. So if I asked him if he though schoolwork to be important (which i have), no prizes as to the reply!

Almostredundant I tried the tactic you did with my ds and revision. Told him it was up to him. No prizes again! Mine also says he feels under pressure to play. I'm so pleased (and hopeful!) your ds is more focussed now. We have tried setting boundaries but he just ignores them- it's exhausting. I'm considering speaking to the school but it's a high acheiving independent one, and if he does score high enough (which i doubt) this year to stay on to 6th form, I'm worried about it count on against him. Thanks for your thoughtful advice though xx

OP’s posts: |
HormonalHeap Sun 20-Sep-15 21:12:39

Sorry typo, counting against him. Though to be honest I think that's the least of my worries at the moment!

OP’s posts: |
almostredundant Sun 20-Sep-15 21:42:08

Mine is also at an academic independent one and that is also where his 'gaming friends' are. Keep sticking to those boundaries and make sure you have the sign up of dh/partner and you show a joined up approach otherwise he will play you off against each other. If you are on your own it will be hard but easier since at least it's only you giving him the rules! If he carries on and its too much then I think you need to look at external help/guidance. There will come a point where you either make progress or have to accept that he can't change....now that will be the tricky part. Will DM message you x

lemon888 Sun 20-Sep-15 23:15:19

Horm it sounds you have a very stressful situation. I feel your ds and you & your dp need professonal help. If it was me i would talk to his head of year to see if the school can offer advice. I would also get in touch with organisations such as Parent Plus or Parents Helpline or family gp. My major worry is if he may start to abuse drug or alcohol one day. Please op go to get help for your son and your family. Best wishes

HormonalHeap Wed 23-Sep-15 22:44:04

Thanks Almostredundant, dh is ds's stepdad, fully supportive but can't really handle situation- does 'deals' with him re Xbox time but doesn't work. Thanks for your advice.

Lemon888 thank you so much, ParentPlus is a really good idea I will start there. I guess I do have to talk to the head of year, it's hard not to be embarrassed as I seem to have done such a lousy job of parenting. Luckily he is very anti drugs and hates alcohol. This is his drug.

OP’s posts: |
comfortseeker Thu 24-Sep-15 12:14:56

Horm, i m sure u r doing a great job. You may find your situation is an uncommon one. I think many schools are very aware of young people metal/emotional health issues nowaday. i hope his school is one of them. Do hope you ll find effective support. All the best.

JustDanceAddict Thu 24-Sep-15 12:56:58

I don't have much advice, but I feel for you. I think going down the professional advice route is a good one, and also talk to the school. I don't think taking away the x-box is a good thing either, however tempting it is. Maybe setting boundaries - like the x.y.z thing before he goes on it - but if you'd tried that already and it's failed it's time to get some professional advice. Always be consistent though and never give in! I am starting that now with my 11 year old DS as he is pushing against me already (nothing major, but I can feel it will be if I don't stand my ground now).

NorthEasterlyGale Thu 24-Sep-15 12:59:23

No experience of this, but a couple of suggestions (no idea if these will work, but thought I'd chuck them in the pot):

Re phone - who pays for this? If it's you & your DH then change it to a non smart phone with text and calls only so he can't game on it.

Re Xbox - is the gaming online? If so, I assume you & your DH pays for it? If so, change the password for the WIFI / Internet every day. Your DS only gets it when he's earned it. Give him a list (or better still, work one out with him) of what he has to do to earn 30 mins or an hour of gaming time.

Maybe you could also speak to your GP for advice re available support and counselling for your son / the family?

Hope you find a way forward.

lemon888 Thu 24-Sep-15 14:54:38

The difficult thing is his age group. 15 yo is kind of not really a child nor adult. May be a third party / someone from outside the family can give more effective support or advice. He may have a lot of worries about his own future too eg exams, fitting in, jobs..... Although my dd s only 12 yo every year i get more anxious about her employment future and i think she may sense alot of that too. Today our children are very aware of our expectations of them. All the bestflowers

madwomanbackintheattic Thu 24-Sep-15 15:15:36

An uncommon issue? You have to be kidding, right?
Our local addictions and MH centre sees a ton of adolescent boys with gaming addictions. And they are obviously only the ones whose parents have advocated enough to get them into the system!

School here suggests that you set a scheduled 'homework' period every night, during which time there is no access at all to gaming. The time period is in line with the homework expectations for that year group (eg ds is y9, he is expected to do at least an hour currently, but by next year this will ramp up to between 3 and 4 hours a night.) The kids are expected to do school work during this period, whether assignments, pre-reading, consolidation, organization etc, they don't get a free pass if they have no set work. It is as much about setting new habits as it is about getting work done. Yes, this is really tough, especially at the outset, and relies on parental cooperation and supervision to uphold. The scheduling for this needs to be when there is an adult in the house, as otherwise all you will get is 'done it'.

I would also turn off the wifi at night, but ds is an online gamer, not x box or ps, so not really sure how that would differ. For ds, we attempt to insist that he charges devices on the main level, as we are pretty sure there have been nocturnal goings-on.

TheBunnyOfDoom Thu 24-Sep-15 15:23:34

I know it must be tough but you can't let a 15 year old dictate to you. You pay for the internet and I assume you bought the Xbox, so you have every right to take those things away if he's being rude and disrespectful.

I don't understand the whole "let him face the consequences". He's 15 - he's not thinking about the future. I wouldn't let my 15 year old waste his GCSE years on a games console at the expense of his schoolwork (and future) if I could help it.

It sounds like you and DH are on the same page, but might it be worth sitting him down and getting him involved in the rules a little bit? 15 is a bit old for "do as I say", but would he maybe respond to being given some responsibility for himself?

Maybe ask him what HE thinks would be a reasonable number of hours of Xbox per day would be? Or maybe he would agree to unlimited xbox so long as he's done x hours of schoolwork per day? I remember at 15 being really pissed off at being told what to do, but I did agree to getting schoolwork done first if I was allowed unlimited screen time until bed afterwards.

Good luck flowers.

HormonalHeap Sat 26-Sep-15 18:40:13

TheBunny thank you but obviously we have tried these things first- letting him be involved in setting limits and giving him responsibility- but he abuses then every time as that is what happens with true addiction.

Thank you all so very much for your relevant advice. I have an appointment with his form tutor this week. We tried removing all his consoles and changing his phone to a non smart phone. His reaction was to refuse to do any homework whatsoever, refuse to wash, hide our car keys and phones and generally make life as painful as possible. We now set boundaries all the time but he pushes them till they hardly exist- because this is his one and only interest in life. My worry is that why would he ever change? Even if he went to uni, what get him into lectures?

Thanks all once again, I'll come back if any progress is somehow made to help anyone going through the same.

OP’s posts: |
Merstham100 Fri 31-May-19 16:04:41

I am going through the same problem with my Son who is 14. I am at a loss.

My Son is in the top set of all of his subjects at school yet he has just got his mock exam results back in and they were poor. This is because he did not revise even though I tried my best to make him by removing the gaming machines, because in my opinion, my Son is addicted to them. I have tried everything. I have taken the consoles away, limited the use of gaming, tried to encourage him in trying a sport, which is a no no as he is not sporty in the least so that was a lost cause. I ask him to bring his friends round, happy to be the taxi driver and take him anywhere he wants to go with his friends but he will not ask them or have them around. I know he has friends at school as I see him with them but for some reason, he won't socialise with them outside of school, but plays with them on the machines!! I don't know whether he has a confidence issue with asking them out in case of rejection as I do feel he has lacks confidence. I try not to pressure him, but encourage him but nothing works. I try to take him out with myself and my family but he doesn't want to go and every outing is a struggle and makes it known when he is out with us.
My Son is an only child and he spends all his time on his own in his room, which really upsets me as he is a lovely boy. The only person he really lets his guard down with is his cousin who lives in Ascot so not around the corner. He is such a lovely child but I feel that he is missing out on lots of fun, but he simply isn't interested in anything! When I am at home with him, I say let's watch a movie together or go to the cinema and it's always a no. So I sit upstairs on my own and he is downstairs on his own (on gaming machines)! This really upsets me!
I tried offering lessons in music, not interested.
I am a single parent and I am self employed but am always there to drop him off at school and pick him up and I work from home a lot, so I am an active parent, but I simply don't know what else to do.

He has a good relationship with his Father who he sees regularly so there is no issue around this (his Father and I get on) and he knows he is loved by all of his family. My Grandparents dote on him.

Can anyone help? When I took the machines away, he hated my guts and home life wasn't great as he wouldn't talk to me so I eventually caved in (maybe I shouldn't have but easier said than done), then limited the machine use but again, everything still doesn't improve. How do I help a child when they are not sporty or interested in much else?
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks

I am looking at hiring a private tutor to come to my home and help him improve his school work as he has a year before GCSE's but I know that this will be met with hell when I do so, but I will stand my ground with this as he will thank me for it later.

MrsBlondie Fri 31-May-19 22:52:22

I notice this thread is a few years old and wonder if @hormonalheap is still about to update us?!

Aroundtheworldandback Sun 02-Jun-19 00:21:19

Hi MrsBlondie this is me under a different username! Merstham100 sorry to hear you are having similar problems.

My ds is now 19, at uni, and although still probably addicted to gaming he has other things in his life now. He gamed his way through gcse’s but THANK GOODNESS I managed to talk him into going away that summer with an organised tour with his year, as this changed everything. Met a lovely girl (still with her), made friends at uni and now has a couple of other hobbies.

It’s horrendous gaming as it steals their life. I only wish I was able to give you some better advice, but I would carry on offering him tempting opportunities and better still, get other family members to try too, in the hope that he’ll enjoy something and take it further.

Merstham100 Sun 02-Jun-19 11:40:01

Gaming is the worse thing that has happened to children. It really does steal their life and I hope to God that this stage passes like it seems to have with your child. Thanks for the message and I will carry on with my quest to help him. I do sometimes say to myself that this will end at some point when he leaves school and goes to uni. I truly hope so.

Aroundtheworldandback Sun 02-Jun-19 21:34:13

I think it will. My son still games obsessively, but also manages to play football twice a week, go to matches and have a relationship with his girlfriend.

I think when your son goes to uni is when he will actually change. Please don’t think it will go on forever; it won’t.

AYGAM Wed 11-Dec-19 14:30:28

So Interesting reading this thread. I have been doing some work around gaming and gambling addiction and thank you to everyone who has posted on here for being honest with their experiences.

Part of my role is to develop resources to support parents so can I ask you;
What support do you feel parents needs around young people being vulnerable to gaming and/or gambling addiction.

Thank you

Ibizafun Wed 11-Dec-19 21:33:24

I think there needs to be big money spent on campaigns to educate people as to the addictive nature of gaming and the life consequences it can have, in much the same was as smoking.

It isn’t enough to rate a game “18” for the violent content as even the “12”’s are addictive. They go to friends’ houses and play there so I think there needs to be a really widespread campaign aimed at parents of reception aged kids, as they watch their older brothers and it’s a gradual decline into it.

Something definitely, definitely needs to be done.

TreeSwayer Thu 12-Dec-19 07:18:43

I have two sons, 16 and 13, but luckily we have very strict rules in place regarding gaming. I am also lucky enough to be a SAHM so I am here when they get home from school.

In primary school we had 2 weekdays as no tech days, which instead meant them playing chess or a board game, cards, etc which worked well.

In secondary the online games they played were ones that penalise you for leaving a game early even if you are winning. This obviously encourages you to stay playing and then there are several games in the tournament so knowing how long you will be is a how long is a piece of string type question.

I think secondaries should have addressed it in school when they talk about sex or drugs. Placement of games consoles (usually in their bedrooms) means they can pretend to go to bed. My friend found her son gaming at 3am, as she has an en-suite she never had cause to leave her room at night but needed some painkillers for a headache, went onto the landing and saw light coming from under her son's door.

Our rule was always homework first and to a good standard before any gaming and a strict turn off time on weekdays for a family meal, talking about our day including what Dh and I have done too. Then family time together watching tv shows or a co-op board game. That way they have something else to do other than just go back onto gaming.

So far so good. Ds1 resisted the come and play with us from his mates during his GCSE revision and did incredibly well. From a young age we have always said if you can't handle coming off a game then you are not mature enough to be playing. Soon stopped them moaning.

Any child using violence or verbal abuse is just doing a "tall tantrum" like a toddler would when they don't get their way but they are now just taller. It is still a tantrum.

belay Fri 13-Dec-19 22:32:30

Please join Game Quitters on Facebook.
Also, use your WiFi routers controls and set limits. A Q Time device from Amazon might help too.
If violent behaviour is still happening then remove the console into storage . That's what we did with 13 year old D's. He pushed against all time limits and his behaviour was horrific . Enough is enough

AYGAM Mon 16-Dec-19 10:45:34

Thanks, these have been really useful.

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