ShareThis Page

Living With Children: Video-game obsession can lead to adult addiction

| Friday, Sept. 15, 2017, 8:57 p.m.

Responding to my recent columns on video games and smartphones, a reader asks what the problem is, thus proving that these devices can and do cause serious harm to one's cognitive hardware. He, the father of two boys and a gamer himself, in effect claims that parents are imagining things and researchers are not finding what they are finding.

He proposes that video games and smart phones do not make people play them or stare at them obsessively; rather, that some parents are simply not providing proper supervision. That's true, as far as it goes. He then offers that nothing is bad in moderation, which is one of the stupidest adages ever conceived. The list of things that are bad/evil in moderation include pornography, heroin, cocaine, arsenic, assault, murder, rape, armed robbery, lying, cheating, child abuse and cruelty to animals. Need I go on?

Furthermore, if an addiction is defined as a self-destructive obsession over which an individual seems to lack control, then video games and smart phones do indeed “make” some people play them and stare at them as if their very lives depended upon it. And the force of that effect appears to be inversely proportional to the age of the individual in question. As such, what a 40-year-old may be able to do — that is, fit playing video games into an otherwise responsible and richly varied life — a 13-year-old boy may not be able to do.

One of my grandsons is a case in point. After I expressed concern to his parents that his obsession with playing video games bordered on unhealthy, they took his game controller away. A year later, at age 14, he told me that he realized in retrospect that he had indeed been addicted. If his parents had not stepped in, he said, his adolescence would have been a disaster.

I've lost count of the number of parents who have asked me what to do about unemployed 20-something male children who live at home, sequestered in the slums that are their rooms, playing online video games day and night. Most of said adult children do not engage in meaningful conversations with their parents, participate in family meals, or even leave the house unless there is no option but to do so.

The mother of a 25-year-old man-child who fits the above description recently asked if there are “resources for parents” who are dealing with adult video game addicts. I have figured out that in this context the word “resources” is a euphemism for “stuff we can read or meetings we can attend to convince ourselves that we're doing something when we have no real intention of doing anything but complaining endlessly to anyone who will listen.” When I suggest the “resource” of involuntary emancipation, these parents come up with one excuse after another, demonstrating that where there is an addict, there is often an enabler or enablers.

Would that these parents had employed the very resourceful word “no” when these males first asked for a video game console.

Visit family psychologist John Rosemond's website at www.johnrosemond.com; readers may send him email at questions@rosemond.com; due to the volume of mail, not every question will be answered.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.