July 16, 2009,
M.H. asks from Iron Station, NC on July 05, 2009
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.
D.G. answers from Chattanooga on July 06, 2009
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
A.A. answers from Raleigh on July 06, 2009
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.
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M.B. answers from Austin on July 06, 2009
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.
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H.C. answers from Hickory on July 07, 2009
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.
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R.W. answers from Charlotte on July 06, 2009
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!
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V.C. answers from Wheeling on July 06, 2009
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!
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P.B. answers from Raleigh on July 06, 2009
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.
C.R. answers from Knoxville on July 07, 2009
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!
S.R. answers from Nashville on July 06, 2009
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.