22 answers

Grandma Seeking Advise on 15 Yr. Old Grandson That Is a Video Junky.

I have a 15 yr. old Grandson living with us that all he wants to do is play video games, stay on the computer and hardly ever wants to go outside and do any physical activity. He does not even eat properly and will not take our advise as to eating and doing other things. I am concerned that as he gets older he will not have any desires to do anything else and have no experiences in the outside world. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how we can get him involved in other activities outside his bedroom short of forcing him to do other things. We have tried to take things away from him but that is only temporary and he says he is bored. Games seems to be his only interest.

What can I do next?

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Simple lock up the game station and the power cord for the computer when he can't play.. As far as food find good choices health wise and don't bring junk food in room. Try getting him to read.. suggest he can make some cash by doing things for others in neighborhood. Is he old enough to get a part time job in the state where you live. Sometimes you have to force to get kids started

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What a difficult situation. My advice would be to sit him down and tell him that you don't want him to feel like he's being punished, but he needs a daily time limit on video games. Have him help decide (within reason) what that time limit should be so that he feels like he has some control. Let him know that he can play them whatever time he wants during the day, maybe suggesting that he break it up instead of doing it all at once. I also suggest that this time limit includes any computer and television time. Then tell him that every few days, you're going to come up with a list of things to do, either at home or not, and he can choose which he wants to do. These activities should be varied: he chooses a recipe that you cook together, going to a municipal pool, heading to a museum, going to a water or amusement park, etc. Sometimes you might let him bring a friend along. If he has ever shown interest in any activities in the past, be sure to include some of those on your lists. And maybe he'll come up with ideas of his own. You could also look at summer camps - there are so many options for week-long camps in this area.

It sounds like he could be depressed, since you mentioned his eating. Since he's living with a grandparent rather than a parent, he has obviously experienced a loss of some sort. Even if it was long ago, or was the best thing for him, he still is probably grieving in some way. You may want to consider trying a counselor - preferably male.

Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful

My son is also crazy about video games--he's 6 years old. We set up a priviledge system. Anything that doesn't fall under a necessity is considered a priviledge and must be earned. In order to earn his alotted time he knows he has to eat 3 good meals a day and spend a certain amount of time playing outside. If he doesn't then he simple doesn't get to play games and must find something else to do. We also take away video game time for bad behavior and he can earn it back from good behavior. ALL kids need boundaries--regardless of age. Maybe this could work for your teen as well? :) You'd need to be consistant or he won't you seriously.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Here's another perspective. I, too, have a 16 yr old who plays A LOT of computer. My husband and I are aware of the worst case scenario i.e. dehydration, not enough calories and severe lack of sleep in the short run and having nothing else in his life in the long run. (you heard the possibilities from others...)

Having said that, we see some positives in the gaming (call it denial, but we call it positive thinking,..) Our son plays World of Warcraft and, like many of these games it is DESIGNED to keep them playing and playing and playing... However, it also requires him to plan ahead, cooperate with others, memorize a LOT of facts and know how to apply a LOT of techniques, follow a map, manage finances (of a sort), and it is a great source of accomplishment and pride for him.

For a kid with ADHD, WOW is actually teaching him (or allowing him to use) some valuable skills. When school, and the world in general, is NOT built for him, WOW gives him a venue for creating his own world that honors his gifts.

OK, I know this is a computer game, and it is not a substitute for friends, family and physical activity, but I want to express the other side so you can not despair!

And for the food...my son has ALWAYS eaten weirdly (no breakfast, often no lunch and then an after school meal, a bit of a meal with the family and another meal before bed. Now it's summer and he just grazes from time to time. We make sure there are easy and reasonably healthy things around for him to grab (healthy cereal, frozen foods, fruit, nuts...) Hearing stories of weird eaters who make it is affirming. One more? My sister ate ONLY vienna sausages and Tang for months while she was a little kid...and now she is a SUPER healthy VEGETARIAN. Go figure.

Love you grandson a lot, pay attention to his game (it IS what is important to him) NOTE: you don't have to understand it to listen to him, just nod and smile and ask him how it's going from time to time. And love him some more. Kids do weird things, they always have (I'm sure we did). You'll make it.

Love him,

1 mom found this helpful

Hello, M.! I saw that someone already put down John Rosemond. He is wonderful and will help you tremendously.

I would first remove any TVs from his bedroom. There is no reason for having these in there to begin with. It creates too many places for kids to watch or play without interacting with the family. Our TVs and computer are in a public areas of the home so I can monitor what is going on.

The rule in our house for the summer months is that kids cannot have any "tech" time (TV, video games, computer, telephone) until they have 1) done their chores 2) read 30 minutes of a appropriate book or magazine. After they have done both of those they get 1 hour of tech time. After that they need to read another 30 minutes to get another hour. This is the second summer I have had that rule and I am finding that my boys want to spend less and less time inside. They would rather be out. In that case, all they need to do is their chores and they are off.

I would not take the video game away completely because there are jobs out there because of video games. What does he want to be when he gets out of college? Does he want to do anything with video games like design them, write them, do graphics, etc.

Good luck and definitely check out John Rosemond!

1 mom found this helpful

First let me say that I have a 29 yr old (very intelligent) son who has lived that kind of life and it's a great struggle for him to break away, now; but it's actually a symptom of depression. I was oblivious to the symptoms when he was a teen. He's the opposite personality from me, and I just didn't understand . . . He's a good 'boy', but he has so much more potential to be a good 'man' that he's not accessing . . .

Might your grandson be somewhat depressed? If someone can encourage him (strongly) to do 'fun' things -- things that HE enjoys or at least enjoyed when he was younger, it would probably help.

Also, playing video games is actually a privilege that needs to be earned; it's not an 'inalienable right' that he's entitled to. He's a little old to try to 'break' from games, but he's still young enough til the adults are very much in charge (or should/could be).

All adults in the household must agree on whatever plan of strategy is utilized, but I'd suggest that you all get together (minus the teenager) and set up a true plan that to play 'X' amount of games, he must first do 'X'. Make a chart for whatever will earn the privilege -- chores, other fun stuff with one of the household adults, having a friend over, talking on the phone with someone for 1/2 hour, visiting someone who's elderly or sick, etc. -- whatever will get him going and doing for someone else's benefit and/or involving personal interaction with another human.

Anyone whose interests are so self absorbed and bound up in their own little world will only get MORE depressed with a constant diet of self-serving interests.

I'd recommend a heavy dose of prayer along with any efforts you make! God is able, and He can help!

God bless.

1 mom found this helpful

I think the best approach is to offer him choices & let him choose, rather than punishing him. He is to old to manipulate & probably feels like he has little control in his life. Offer him choices. There has to be something to replace whatever you want to remove from him.

Try offering some sort of camp or extracurricular experience. I am guessing soccer or baseball would be out of the question. Maybe something more personally challenging like Outward Bound.



If he is really unwilling to do that kind of thing, offer him a choice such as a class in computer Animation, computer rendering or even Web design. That would be something he is interested that would be constructive. He would meet people with similar interests as well.

I hope this is helpful.


Is he interested in sports or another hobby? Our kids enjoyed video games and we had to put a limit on how many hours a day they actually got to use the video games. Our sons are interested in sports, cars and fishing so they had something else to occupy time with. If your grandson is not socialable or does not really have any other hobbies then you need to help him find something he is interested in doing. You don't mention how long he has lived with you so if he has not lived with you for very long he may still just be adjusting to his new enviroment. My kids also enjoyed youth activities at church. When we moved my youngest wanted to find a new church with youth in his age group so he could be active in a youth group. Do you attend a church with an active youth program? If you don't then maybe look into that. As far as the eating talk to him and tell him your concerns about his eating habits. If you do not want him to consume junk foods then don't buy them. My teens love Mountain Dew but I felt they were drinking to much of it so I told them that I was not going to buy it unless it was a special occasion, at first they were mad but I told them if they wanted it they had to buy it. They did and when they realized how much it cost they slowed down on the consumption. Have healthier food and drink options available for him. Good Luck!

M., I don't want to scare you, but it it so important that you nip it in the butt now. Our friend has a 22 year old son. Gaming ruined his life. He ended up dropping out of college because he got so addicted to gaming, that he'd blow off classes and stay home with his video games. He he got to where he couldn't hold down jobs and got really sloppy with his hygiene and nutrition. Is there any authority figure (a man, a coach, etc.) that he looks up to to help you talk to him. We took our son's cell phone away from him, took the door off of his bedroom door frame, hid the X-Box and games AND I changed my computer password (so he couldn't do games) for 4 months. Next we threatened to take the bed out of his room. Once his grades came up and he participated in a sport, then we gradually gave things back. He's only allowed one hour during the school week if his homework and chores are done. On the weekend (or summer if it's too hot outside), he can have up to 3 hours total if his room is picked up, etc. Your grandson will rebel, so stand firm to your boundaries. If you give in just once, he's got ya. Our son had to be reminded that all these things were privileges that had to be used responsibly. Good luck. S.

Hey Grandma... How long has he been living with you and what are the circumstances. Children are very deep and deeply affected by things around them. They are not as resilient as everyone says... they just keep it inside. Are you active with him? Does he have friends? Does he have any special interests that you can do with him? There may be more going on in that young mind than you know. Start delving into future plans and thoughts. He is not too young to get a part time job. Mowing lawns, walking dogs, even bagging groceries in a store, if a hardship is involved in the household. Is he active in church? There are many fun youth activities at churches thru the summer. Best of luck to you and God bless.

I'm a gma too. Children need a routine. The video games are a reward. So, he can choose , with your help, an outside activity. Lap swimming right now would be excellent. 100 laps of the pool and he earns an hr video time. Chores earns him another amount. The video thing is moved to a common area in the home. Also, you and gramps need to play a little with him too. Lock the puter when it is not in use. This is normal, but not acceptable. Volunteer work in a hospital or nursing home, the animal shelter or such is a good break too, but if you can afford a class at an art center, that would be great. Good luck.

Simple lock up the game station and the power cord for the computer when he can't play.. As far as food find good choices health wise and don't bring junk food in room. Try getting him to read.. suggest he can make some cash by doing things for others in neighborhood. Is he old enough to get a part time job in the state where you live. Sometimes you have to force to get kids started

Does he live with you? If not, I have a similar situation with my nephew. When he visits he likes to play video games. He will play them all day and also doesn't want to do anything else. I took a parenting class and they suggested that I set a time limit so that he knows at my house he is allowed an hour and then he needs to do something else. If your grandson lives with you I think a time limit would still be effective. It might be a little harder to enforce. This seems to be a common problem among teenage boys. When I was 15, all of my friends and I had jobs. I'm 30. The kids I know don't have jobs or summer jobs. It's no wonder they are bored. I certainly relate to your frustration. I sometimes wonder what kind of life skills my nephews are learning sitting behind a video game all day. Good luck.

Hello there, I understand your frustration. I too am concerned that so many kids are getting too invloved in videos and games of that nature. My husband has 2 children from a previous marriage and that's all they seem to be concerned with... their mother has used the video thing as a sort of babysitter I suspect. I think the best way to get him out of the house is to invite him to a museum or something and perhaps you might have to start with the movies, like Imax perhaps... I think if they can develop friendships with other kids their age they are much less likely to "zone" in front of the TV... But then the question is where to find other children his age who are not going to lapse into this same behavior? I don't know if I helped... but I hope so and I wish you luck with this. It is a legitimate concern to be sure.

Lead by example and don't nag. It's not the end of the world. When my husband was this age he ate nothing but rolls and candy bars. He stayed up all night, had bad hygiene got terrible grades in school and had wierd friends. They behaved bad in public and some got in trouble. It's a stage.

How you react to it is way more important that what he does. Insist on a routine as much as you can but don't pressure him to have a life that matches your ideal. Keep an open dialog and keep offering to include him in fun activities. Invite his friends over occationally but set ground rules.

My husband and all his friends spent years this way. They went to college and got degrees in computer science. My husband has a good job and a good family. They grow out of it. Just be glad you know where he is at night.

Someone mentioned that he might need to see a counselor, preferably a male that he connects with, and I concur. He might be depressed and need to talk about his problems. The counselor can also coach him and talk about his future and what he wants to work towards.

Do you have him do chores? Maybe you could have him share the housework, wash his own clothes, do the dishes, and take turns cooking. All these things would make him feel empowered and feel like you trust him to accomplish adult tasks.

Good luck!

I have a 15 year old who is shy and quiet and in the past he would retreat to "screen time" for entertainment. While I don't think he was ignored or left out by others, I don't think he had the confidence to include himself socially, especially since he had interest other than sports. This really started worrying me when he was 13, so we started suggesting different things: invite a friend (who has common interests) over. Sometimes they would play video games, but at least he was socializing. Then we started suggesting outings to the movies (bring a friend), invite a friend to the pool, etc. We also have two other children so we started taking lots of family day trips like hiking, theme parks, skating, bowling, museums, etc. The thing that seemed to help the most was getting him involved in our church youth group. The youth leaders knew he was not going to initiate socially, so they did a great job of including him and getting him involved in small group studies, etc. for just boys his age/grade. That has been our miracle. Our son NEVER misses attending one of these church events and has found "his place"; somewhere where he feels accepted and can be social. He just finished his first year of high school at a very large school and it went very well. He has a small group of about 5-6 friends who he talks to on his cell phone and goes out with some. The change has been incredible. Now instead of video games, his "screen time" is on the computer talking to friends on Facebook, but I feel better that he is socializing and becoming a part of life. Good luck and I hope some of the suggestions helped.

You can go to Staples or any computer store and get a download that will monitor the amount of time that he can spend online.Im sure he has his own id and all u have to do is put it on using that id. My son is now going to college for this, an honor roll student, I asked him.There has to be something he is interested in, that he can do while not on playing games.

My son who is now 29 was also a video game junkie when he was younger. I also thought it might be detrimental to his education. He has graduated college with a degree in computers and now works for our local phone company as the head of their computer troubleshooters. I think it worked out fine for him but not knowing your grandson personally I hate to say don't worry. I did ground my son from the computer and video games when his grades dropped but that was the only reason that I would take away his game systems.

Bless your heart for taking in your grandson. Unfortunately these days, most kids his age choose (if they have the choice) to be very much like him and only want to play video games and such. Clearly it is a problem, as you can see. The best advice I can give is to read John Rosemond, a family psychologist. He has several books, which are all excellent. One is called Teenproofing, and would certainly apply to your situation. His website is www.rosemond.com. He has a weekly newspaper article that is on there as well. His books are on amazon.com, or maybe they'd be at the library. It sounds like he could use some extra activities. Are you involved with a church that has a youth program? Even if you're not religious, it might be worth giving him some extra socialization and perhaps service and all that. It might not be too late to get him into boy scouts, which a lot of churches are involved with as well. I wish you all the best!

Well, I'm glad to say I don't have this problem but my sister does with her teenagers. Is there any outdoor activities that he does have an interest in like riding ATV's, hunting, fishing, skateboarding? Is he into any sport? I would definitely put a time limit on playing video games. My son has a video game and he is allowed an hour a day which is broken up into 30 minute increments. We don't have the game in his bedroom either. It's in the living room where we are so he can only play it if we allow it. No child should have a computer in their bedroom. Take it out of the bedroom and move it to a central location in the house. We have our computer in our dining room so we can always see what my son is looking viewing on it. My son only has 3 video games and they are on the Nintendo Wii which means he has to be active while playing it. Other than that he is outside playing all day. We have bought a season pass to the local pool and he goes there for a few hours a day. I think you need to sit him down, limit the amount of time he spends on the computer and video games. Buy an hour timer. One for you and one for him and say in an hour you need to get off and go outside. Don't buy him anymore games and don't let him buy them. It's all a matter of structure. My son is on a routine. He gets up every morning, eats breakfast, gets dressed, brushes his teeth, and then spends a while outside with his targets shooting his bow. Then after a while he comes in lets me know he's going to get on his ATV and rides that for a little while. Then he eats lunch. Spends some time inside with me watching my one year old while I clean. I don't make him do that he just does. Then we go swimming after lunch and swim until around 4 or 5 p.m. Then we come home get cleaned up, eat supper, play outside til dark and then maybe right before bedtime, he plays his Nintendo Wii. He has a Nintendo DS that we bought but he's only allowed to play it when we are going on a trip and will be in the car for a long period of time. This keeps him occupied. I would encourage you to sign him up for a summer camp if you can't get him motivated on his on. Camps are good sources of excerise and activity that he can do everyday for a few hours a day. He can also volunteer somewhere a few hours a day. It's going to take you getting him involved and making him do it. He's not going to choose to do it himself. As far as his diet. Fix his breakfast and lunch for him. If he likes pizza for lunch make him a microwave pizza and give him a salad to go with it. Don't let him have junk food until he's eaten the nutritious foods. When you go grocery shopping don't buy unhealthy foods. At 15 if he gets hungry enough he will eat. Trust me, they are bottomless pits at that age. You be the one driving the car. If all else fells take the video game and computer away for the rest of the summer and he will have no choice but to do something else. Good luck!

I have to agree with the responses that said don't worry too much and to sit down and set a time limit on gaming. This is very normal for what our society calls Generation Y - gaming, texting, technology-oriented interactions is part of Gen Y, which your grandson is growing up in. Can it be detrimental to social development? Possibly, but not always and not for everyone. I have many friends younger than me (I'm 31) who were and are computer/console gamers who still manage to lead productive lives with jobs that are geared towards them (some are in psychology, others in computer fields). I do have a handful of friends whom gaming ends up being a crutch so they don't have to deal too much with real life. But I wouldn't say they were completely broken (they manage to hold real jobs and earn a living. Just when they go home, they end up gaming much of the evening).

But I'd say sit down, have a honest, but empathetic, talk about setting some time limits and finding something else to do, whether that's hanging out with friends somewhere, joining some kind of extracurricular activity, getting a part-time job even if it's at a game store :) You could possibly embrace his interest and let him invite a few other gaming friends in with their systems to have a multi-gamer "party." Though so much gaming is online nowadays I don't know if that's as fun as it used to.... but we've had friends come over with their XBoxes, network the systems together and have a couple extra TVs so that it's like being in a mini-arcade.

Just my $0.02.

well to me this would be an easy fix take it away. for good not just for a while. and put a lock on your computer. these things are not rights they are privileges and they should be taken away. you are the one who buys the food im assuming for your house so their really is no excuse for him not eating right. he eats what you cook or he doesnt eat. it will be hard but it will be worth it! good luck

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