bigstock-Mother-and-Son-Tug-of-War-7949569My 14 year old is addicted to League of Legends one these multi-player online role-playing games (MMORPG).  He is convinced he is not.

When my husband and I decided to take action two days ago, we have witnessed since, a real withdrawal syndrome. As I am confident that we are addressing the issue early enough, hopefully we won’t have to see our son suffer for too long.  Suffer is the right word. Just like any addiction, pain is the result of limitation and removal of the substance whether it is drug, alcohol, cigarette or video game. Oh boy, how difficult it is for the parents as well. What is stunning to me is how we got to that difficult situation  in the first place. It is so incredibly easy to let your child slip into game addiction, it starts earlier with Minecraft or Doodle Jump or Candy Crush that your little one plays on your phone while waiting at a doctor appointment. Then the DS or equivalent comes in as the ultimate gift that your child begs you for. And the eagerness to play is such that you use it as a reward. This is when the problem starts. Let’s face the truth, video games are easy for both parents and children: it is a guaranteed quiet time for the parents and it is a guaranteed fun time for the children. The very big problem of all is that it is a vicious cycle, the more they play the less they are interested in other games or activity, and the less parents have a substitute for the reward.

We must raise our awareness in order to protect our vulnerable children and teenagers.

Computers, Ipads, tablets have more or less replaced the television in providing free time off for the parents. Similar to the television, we have a false sense of safety because our children are sitting quietly next to us. Considering the lack of family and community support, it is understandable that we, parents, give into these easy ways to keep our children busy. Please read this interesting article to understand the different types of games and potential addiction. you will note if you read this article that League of Legends is not mentioned in the non exhaustive list of online video games. This is reflecting the lack of information we, parents have on the subject. For your information League of Legends is a world of its own and if you believe what Forbes says on this amazing “success story” 12 millions users play daily, and they have 72 millions users in their database. From a business perspective it is exhilarating, extraordinary, exceptional, fantastic. From our children’s perspective how is it? Of course all the children and teenagers glued to their screen will describe how fantastic this game is. And surely everything is there to captivate them in the long run.

The truth is that their best interest is to keep them away from these videos games. The sooner we do it the better.

How serious it is for our children’s life?

1. It affects their grades big time. If the grades are still good , at one point or the other grades will drop. At a high school level the detrimental consequences are quite obvious. 2. It affects their interaction with everyone: the virtual relationships created around the game eventually relationships with friends and peers. 3. They quickly live in a fantasy world that disconnect them from their reality. Do a search on google for  League of Legends to understand what I mean: you will see championships, stars who make money winning competitions. Very similar to gamble you never know how much they lost before they win. Every event is relayed on Youtube so nobody misses anything. Have you ever had that sensation that you were on Facebook for 10 mn just to realize that it had been 40mn? I have, and I am not a Facebook fan. So if an adult can be manipulated so easily, what is it for a child?bigstock-Total-Focus-3360130

The biggest problem of all: the computer IS NOT evil

In many ways computers and the internet are a blessing, even for our children. My 7 year old discovered origami on Youtube and learnt to do beautiful things in paper with Youtube as a tutor. My two eldest find invaluable the time saving the internet can be for any research project.  Thanks to the computer they can interact with their teachers and their school mates via specific forums. More and more homework is to be done on the computer, and the trend will increase. So what we, parents,  can and should do? I wish I had a definite answer to this but I don’t. I will only tell you what my husband and I have decided to do for our son’s sake, and the rest of our children.

1. Establish a global screen policy: password on every mobile device, computer timed access given after homework is done.

2. Ask the school for what purpose and how often a computer is needed at home.

3. See a therapist to help our son and ourselves go through this phase. Especially with a teenager, outside help is necessary, because as you may already know, parents are idiots who don’t get it.

Don’t wait until your child is a teenager to closely monitor screen time and what is done on the internet. It is far easier to deal with a 7 or 10year old tantrum than a teenage one.

Check the way to heal to learn more about our personal experience with this problem.