What to do when your child’s video game playing becomes a worry

The birth of my first grandson was a monumental event in my life. I was so excited to introduce him to the world and the world to him. Since his small family lived with us for a couple of years, I spent quite a bit of time teaching and entertaining him. As a baby boomer, I thought the more I taught him about computers, the better he would be able to compete in this life.

I enjoyed having my little grandson sit on my lap while I played baby computer games that would react to the touch of a key with a picture or funny noise. He caught on very quick and I loved watching his little chubby face light up in delight. Later, the computer games got more complex and some were what seemed like harmless shooting games.

My grandson grew and was very astute in school and quick to learn the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. His parents and I were very happy about his accomplishments. Of course, I was sad when his father’s occupation took him far from me, but I kept memories of our time together close to my heart.

When my oldest grandson became a teenager, he was influenced very much by his friends. The family moved often and he found solace and comfort in an online word of gaming. His parents became very concerned when his video gaming became addictive. It was very hard to pry him away from the computer to do his homework, chores and other productive activities.

Clearly, video games got in the way of his education. His grades were suffering and the whole family worried about his future. Nagging didn’t seem to work. His online friends were more persuasive than his own family. A fantasy world and online domination became his new goal. It was very difficult for us to understand.

Experts from WebMD and others claim that video game addiction can ruin lives. Children that get involved will spend four to five hours a day, pushing aside homework, socializing, playing sports and even sleep. It takes away from normal social development. It can jeopardize real life relationships.

Interestingly, the majority of video game addicts are males under 30. Although they are very imaginative and intelligent, they may be very reserved and shy. My son and his family often moved, and it was hard for my grandson to deal with the change and especially making new friends. He has difficulty conversing comfortably face to face in the real world, but in the online world, found little risk communicating with those in a different country or time zone.

Gamers feel powerless over their addiction. As a grandmother, I have tried hard to be nonjudgemental nor to show anger towards my grandchildren. Instead, I try to encourage good behavior, and when the time is right, share what I have learned through my life that may help them overcome their challenges. I show love and support for their parents so their children will in turn love and respect them.

I believe my grandson’s parents were very wise to push him into real-life activities like sports, community activities and traveling so he was away from the computer. These experiences opened him up to many new friends and places. He also was involved in choir, field trips and other activities that fostered his social skills and gave him confidence.

Alternatives to Video Gaming

  • Play board or card games as a family
  • Enroll in music, dance or art lessons
  • Participate in a local youth group
  • Go on a nature hike
  • Join a sports team
  • Volunteer to give service to the needy or homeless
  • Get a part-time job

Fortunately, there are many people willing to help with video game addiction. I have a nephew who has expert training in how to help those addicted to online gaming. There are also wilderness therapy programs and boarding schools for teens that are severely addicted. They address underlying emotional or behavioral issues. Family counseling is also available.

I am so pleased to report that my grandson acknowledged his video game addiction and the negative effects it had on his academic progress. With guidance he raised his GPA from below 2.0 to above 3.5. I am so happy that he was able to apply and be accepted to university.

For more info http://www.video-game-addiction.org/

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