Video games are fun, beautiful, challenging (at just the right level), compelling, and they give us INSTANT FEEDBACK. It’s no wonder they are so compelling (and so addictive). Video games are slick, sexy, and meet so many of our emotional needs (in the short term).
But for many teens, video games are their ADDICTION. Just this past week, the World Health Organization declared video game addiction a new category of mental disorder, and teens are highly susceptible.
SO many teens today are feeling STUCK doing school, and like they’re in a holding cell until they get to the adult world (which can also terrify them because they’re not sure they have what it takes to handle the adult world). Video games fill SO many of the needs for worthiness, purpose, a clear role, clear boundaries, clear objectives, clear rewards, and connection to something bigger than themselves. Video games are also a great way to distract ourselves from negative feelings, or avoid things we don’t’ want to do. It’s no wonder so many teens just LOVE video games. But there are potential dangers…
Have you seen the movie trailer for Ready Player One? I just saw it last week when my husband and I went to the theatre to see Star Wars.
In just two minutes, the trailer covers how many teens feel, why they game so much, and how gaming fills a deep human need for connection.
“I’m sitting here in my tiny corner of nowhere.”
“There’s nowhere left to go except the Oasis”
“It’s the only place that it feels like I mean anything.”
“Like many of you, I came here to escape, but I found something bigger than just myself”
The main character in Ready Player One, Wade Watts, is relatable to so many teens because he feels powerless, stuck in his small world, and searching or something more. When we see Wade enter “the oasis” (the virtual world) he enters a world that is more engaging and stimulating than the world he lives in. He feels worthwhile in this world. In the Oasis there is a clearly defined goal with a HUGE reward. Even more than the compelling nature of searching for treasure is the sense of purpose that he gains from connecting with something bigger than himself (the political rebellion). In a few short minutes we can see a worthless small town nobody find purpose, connection, and a compelling future.
This is the trailer I’m talking about
Watch it with your teen! It’s a great conversation starter about how gaming fills our human needs.
Video games are like CANDY, because they’re so wonderful, they can crowd other healthy options. Just like helping little ones not eat candy all day long, it’s up to parents to help teens set healthy boundaries around video games.
Some psychologists are suggesting that 3 hours of gaming or more per day has harmful effects on social interactions. There is also research to suggest that excessive gaming is detrimental to the brain’s health. As a educator and a mom, I know that it doesn’t take 3 hours of gaming a day to start to cause a problem. Whenever gaming crowds out a teen’s homework time, their sleep time, and your teen is a sleep-deprived, moody, anxious, and going to school without completing their homework, those are CLEAR signs that your teen needs help to set boundaries with their gaming.
When video games start to crowd out other activities in a teen’s life, like spending time in person with friends, physical activity, school work, contributing to household chores, sleep, or personal hygiene, they have become a problem!
In the last week I connected with Elaine Uskoski, a mom of two young men, who told me the horrific story of her youngest son who went off to college and instead of attending class, shut himself up in his dorm room for 2 months playing video games. When she finally cut through all of the lies he was telling her (and that she was telling herself) she met him in person, and saw that he was a rack of bones. Not eating. Not showering. Only gaming. Who knows what would have happened if this mother hadn’t FINALLY listened to her intuition and stepped in. For more details, you can read Elaine’s book, Seeing Through The Cracks.
I don’t want this nightmare to be your story. If you have concerns about how your teen’s video gaming is impacting the other areas of their life, please reach out.
Elaine told her son, “You can hate me for the rest of your life, but I’m going to SAVE your life”.
And she did. But she didn’t do it alone. Elaine reached out wherever she could for the support she needed.
End this now. You could be saving your teen’s life.
I’ve created some extra time in my calendar this week to offer a FREE 30 minute coaching call for YOU.
BOOK NOW to grab your spot.
You’re not alone.
P.S. Elaine told me that not only was her son lying to her about his gaming, but that she had been lying to herself. She had been downplaying the severity of what she was seeing, she had been trying to give her son his independence as a college student. But deep inside her, she knew there was a problem. She made her decision to take action, now it’s time for you to make yours…from your deepest place of strength. I can help. Book your call now