Reader’s Commentary Regarding the column about the video game Fortnite (May 25):
Reader – “My son, 18, is an elite athlete and AAA Hockey player since age six. He’s extremely intelligent.
“He never went to parties nor stayed out late. He was too busy with school and sports. But he wasn’t as socially mature as his school-mates.
“This year he was introduced to casual gatherings with hockey teammates and to video games. He’d never played these at home.
“Last November, he purchased a PS4 console, started playing Fortnite, and got hooked. We tried to get him to stop.
“Now he’s addicted to the game. He’s skipped school since February, dropped out of Grade 12, withdrawn from his real-life friends, and from spending time with family.
“From an Honours student wanting to go into medicine since Grade 10, he’s now an Internet-addicted high-school drop-out.
“This all happened pretty fast and we’re seeking professional help. Our son doesn’t admit to a problem and isn’t seeking support.
“We’re working each day and hope he comes to a realization that he needs to get back on track.
“Video games can take over someone’s life and this needs to be addressed more publicly.”
FRUSTRATED AND STRESSED PARENTS
The public, along with health professionals, just acquired a name for it on June 18, 2018: It’s called “Gaming Disorder.”
The problem isn’t unique to Fortnite – which became wildly popular partly because it was initially given away free.
Ever since computer games became available, there’ve been young people (adults, too) whose gaming crosses over into “unhealthy” levels of play.
Finally, the World Health Organization has announced that compulsively playing video games now qualifies as a new mental health condition.
Your son definitely needs professional help, as does your family in learning how to handle the situation.
According to Dr. Brent Conrad, a Canadian-based clinical psychologist for www.techaddiction.ca, “It’s critical that any rules around gaming are not only set, but consistently enforced.”
Your son acted so independently – buying the PS4 himself and dropping classes – that you unfortunately missed discussing controls early.
That’s why a mental health expert’s voice needs to be heard by him – e.g. helping him understand how dropping his education and all other interests will diminish his quality of life now and in the future.
Dr. Conrad says, “the most popular treatment approach for computer game addiction is cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT).”
Seek a CBT specialist for your son.
You describe him as lagging in social maturity compared to his peers, well before he found video gaming (and its false sense of validation and power).
But the WHO announcement has some psychologists reminding parents that not every child who spends hours playing games is an addict.
Seeking counselling for yourselves as parents, will help you learn how to discuss with your son the idea of his seeing a therapist himself.
Tell him that living with you, having your love and nurturing, plus his physical needs met, comes with some expectations and responsibilities.
Explain that going to counselling on his own is essential for his making choices about his own future.
Say too, that it’s your responsibility as parents to get him to see someone with knowledge and facts on where his obsessive gaming is leading.
It’s not to self-satisfaction nor rewards beyond a computer screen.
You and your husband then need to learn how to apply boundaries without losing your main goal, i.e. not driving your son away nor rejecting your much-needed guidance.
I’m one of those grandmothers who feels left out as I age. I’m in a retirement residence and get only rare visits - a common complaint amongst the residents.
I know my children love me, they tell me in emails. I wasn’t perfect, but we had a good relationship.
I’m independent and try to manage without them. But why don’t they drop in for just a half-hour coffee?
The stock response: “Sorry I didn't call, we were so busy.”
We looked after our parents, and thought we set a good example.
What is wrong now? Even if we’re loved, we feel neglected and alone.
Many people equate being busy with their kids to “parenting.” But the task of raising children also includes teaching/portraying values, such as caring and showing up.
A quick email doesn’t cut it. Nor does a 30-second call or text.
Grandchildren, adult children and grandparents all need connection, if at all possible.
Tip of the day:
Parents must set early boundaries on their children’s video-gaming and watch for signs of excessive involvement with it.