Video Game Questions . . .

Updated on August 07, 2019
M.6. asks from Woodbridge, NJ
13 answers

@JB - a thousand flowers to you if I could. You made me cry with your thoughtful words. I often think of you and what you have gone through with your own family (especially your ex) and your amazing strength and grace. Thank you so much!!!

So our 19 yr old is currently living in a group home. As way of back story, we, as a family, made a choice to eliminate all video games and nearly all television from our and our children's diets years ago. With this particular child, we had to go the extra step to remove all technology from him in school as well. His behaviors skyrocketed and his attention (already extremely limited), plummeted as soon as he is exposed to any screen time. We worked really hard with his doctors at the time to wean him off everything, and we were able to get the "no technology" into his IEP/Accommodations at school.

Of course, the group home could care little about all the hard work and the benefits of all of this. The other residents have unlimited gaming time/screen time, so of course, this is causing issues because staff has to "entertain" our son (their words - he entertained himself just fine at home) because we won't let him have a gaming system.

To add to the issue, we made the decision to let our son be his own guardian. In all fairness, the group home is allowing us to be a major factor in decisions, which we appreciate, but they are insisting that he be allowed to play video games because they say HE is insisting (well I'm sure he is - staff has routinely pointed out to him that he would have more fun if his parents let him play video games, mostly because it makes THEIR life easier).

So, just like with kids that leave the nest without having a disability, it is time we let go (at least some), but rather than just throw caution to the wind, we have convinced the group home to allow us final veto on any games and to set a screen time limit. The good news is that there is NO internet at the group home so whatever device he purchases (I guess it will be an Ipad) has to be taken offsite by staff to download whatever games are chosen.

I'm looking for games that at least marginally "exercise" the brain - perhaps with problem solving/strategizing techniques, low on violence, and have less "addictive" qualities. We have issued a hard "no" on match 3 games (Candy Crush and the like) as these are the most psychologically addicting games there is. In app purchases or the ability to get messages from other players won't exist since there is no internet. Slugterra looks like a possibility, but are there some that you all would suggest looking at? Having literally not had a single video game in the house for years, no access to them, and I don't even have a TV so I don't see commercials or advertisements for video games is making this difficult. It would need to be a downloadable game to an Apple platform.

Thanks for any recommendations you have!!!

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So What Happened?

**@mamazita: if he was an alcoholic, and everyone else in the house got to drink, I daresay you wouldn't quite have the same attitude. Just because everyone else is doing something, doesn't make it "ok." Our son has a true "addiction" to video games - he is unable to stop playing AND it causes significant problems with his behaviors and relationships AND he is unable to see that it causes problems.

**@B: your right - but the alternative is that they basically just don't include us at all in this since he is his own legal guardian. They could just say "hey kiddo, your folks don't get any say in this, just pick some games." I'm heartsick over the whole thing, but realistically I guess I knew that it was only a matter of time. At least we are getting a time limit (1 hr a day) and getting to have input on the games, and I have to work with the parameters that I am given. Moving to another group home wouldn't solve it since we are going to face these pretty much wherever we go. I've seen the "zombie" residents in numerous group homes with their faces glued to screens . . . I just pray that we can minimize it as much as possible and not throw away years of hard work on his and our parts.

Featured Answers


answers from Washington DC on

gahhhh, what a tough situation! i applaud you both for making the tough decision to let him be his own guardian, AND to fight for limited screen time for him, knowing his addictive tendencies.

what about something relatively benign like minecraft?


4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Boston on

ETA: @mamazita I rarely respond to other responses here but you are really out of line. It seems like you are lucky enough to be unaware of how excruciatingly difficult it is to find placement for children or adults with disabilities into therapeutic residential settings that are appropriate for their level of need and independence. Many of the places available are woefully inadequate. You are judging this mom - who btw happens to be super hero in my eyes for all that she has done for her children, her spouse, and is dealing with herself - as if she has a ton of wonderful options to choose from. She's making the best of a difficult situation, so take a seat and be glad that you have no idea what she's dealing with.

Original: I found a couple of lists that look promising:

This looks like a great resource for not only games but other apps you might consider that could be helpful or interesting to him. Under "categories" you can check off "adult" to filter out the little kid stuff, and you can filter the device for iPad only. Gets you thinking about some neat things beyond just games - meditation apps, virtual jigsaw puzzles, virtual coloring, and other things that might be soothing and interesting without being overly stimulating or addictive.

12 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

The old Wii console might be a good option. Not the Wii U. It uses internet. One great Wii game is Wii sports resort. It has bowling, golf, frisbee, archery, etc. And you use your body so you are moving around. And he can play with others in the room if he wants. You just need extra controls. And there are lots of used games you could research and pick up at GameStop. It was our son’s first gaming system and he still goes back to it sometimes.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I asked my daughter. She is a computer/video game geek (her own words) and since she's medically disabled she's unable to work or go to school, and if there's a video game out there, she's heard of it or played it. She avoids the violent ones, the dark demonic ones, and the mindless matching ones. She's a few years older than your son. And these are her suggestions to start with.

Lemmings. There's lots of lemmings, and you have to strategize how to help them navigate mazes and overcome obstacles (like a big box that's in their way). No violence, lots of ways to figure out how to get the little creatures through their pathway. There's a tutorial at the beginning to learn. It seems simple but it's not babyish.

Tiny Tower. You build stories onto a tower and build stores, restaurants, etc. It's clever and fun, with no violence.

Asphalt 9. Your race car can crash, but there's no mowing down of pedestrians like in some racing games. When and if the car crashes, it just splits apart, no drivers are shown mortally wounded. It's driving and steering, and there is beautifully generated scenery.

And those are all available on the iPad.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

We've dealt with video game addiction with our son and he was also in a residential care program for mental health issues. It's a tough one. I would recommend the game Portal. It's similar to the popular games in that there's strategy involved, but there's no violence, bad language, etc. It wasn't an addictive one for him. It's also not a little kid game that will make him feel like he's being treated like a child. I'm not sure if it's downloadable on Apple, but if it isn't, I'd Google search for games on Apple similar to Portal.

Our son played limited game time in his program. They had an ancient system and he was stuck with old, tame games, so it didn't feed his addiction in any way.

Now that he's in a happy mindset again, we have allowed games again because he has a better relationship with them. He sees them more as a way of connecting with friends vs. he can't live without games.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Tetris is an oldie, but a goodie. Definitely exercises the brain.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I think the “best” answer in this situation is the answer we posters here often give to, say, moms asking about horror movies that a child wants to watch - “you should watch it too”.

You need to bite the bullet and download some games for *yourself*. It can possibly become a parent-son bonding activity, too. Do your own hands-on “exploration”.

My first suggestion would be something like The Sims. A game that is basically the video version of “playing with dolls” but not babyish. Setting up lives for the videogame people characters - getting them hired for jobs, building their homes, etc.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Not sure if Minecraft is something he'd be interested in, I have heard of teens playing it as well. I have seen people of all ages on Roblox too, I don't think it's a violent game. I would Google "educational video games for teens" or something like that ("educational video games for young adults" or "violence-free video games) and read up on them and see if they sound like something he'd like. Maybe some of these might sound interesting? Glad you can at least limit his screen time to 1 hour, versus having him glued to it all day, because it's easier for the caretakers.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Mine suggested -

Tetris (my teen suggested that and still has it on his phone)
Minecraft (I don't think you have to talk to people) - mine don't really play that any more but have in the past.

I don't know how addictive those are but mine didn't seem to think so.

Good luck to you :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Well, I'm glad you're "letting" him play some games. You must realize being in a place where literally everyone gets to play these fun games is a lot different than being at home where no one was.
I don't have any personal recommendations but I would imagine adventure or puzzle type games would be good for him because they are less hyperactive and stimulating than fast, shooting type games and they would likely engage his mind in a slower, more meaningful way.
You could also ask the staff for advice. They know your son better than any of us and they could probably tell you what games are popular with other reidents with similar issues.
ETA: so your son is a video game addict and you put him in a place full of video games? Got it. Makes perfect sense.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

I think you are kidding yourself if you think this will somehow be a way to make everyone happy.
Even solitaire can be addictive.
He'll have an ipad - and no matter what gets loaded on it - he will glue himself to it all waking hours.
And since he's in a group home - can he come and go as he pleases?
A visit to a McDonalds or anywhere with wifi will have him or a friend - downloading what ever he wants.
He will find a way.
Group home might be perfectly happy if he disappears into cyberspace and never comes up for air again.
I'm not sure the home should be making that call.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I keep seeing ads for Mightier, which is an app that uses biofeedback to teach emotional regulation. It's supposed to be fun games but with great benefits. It sounds very interesting and I'm planning on using it for my spirited child when she is older. It's for 6-14 year olds but perhaps your son might benefit from it? Here is the link:

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

Okay I am going to sound like a complete idiot but you just dumped ( for the lack of a better word) your son at some commune living? Or was it his choice to leave? ( I have no idea what a group home is but I will guess it’s like a borderline 1/2 way house..) I will also go as far as to guess not the best characters reside there.....he rather live there vs following what it sounds like unreasonable rules.. and being micromanage?! I bet he had a hell of a time in hs where his friends are using a computer and he is not allowed.

Wait..Is he special needs? Does he have any disorders or diseases? Was it ever diagnosed.. did you try medication?

I get limiting, I get earning, knowing the rules and being a tough parent. But I also see how electronics improve our lives..World moves forward not backwards. I get limiting gaming, computers etc. we have that at our house. You earn video gaming. Computer is used for educational purpose- it is in the kitchen so at no time are they alone with the computer. Hubby has an office and his computer has face recognition and or password that kids do not know.

And tv is full of educational programs. Travel, history, how things work and so on. And honestly if you reject electronic things but now you kinda back down..?!

But now you are going back on your rules and looking for “okay” games.. ?!? I think what is addictive to some obviously is not to others. Google or play the game .. I mean I have over 15 pages of games on my I phone. My kids play for few and move on. Now with this fortnight you need to be careful.. it’s engaging and has a ton of upgrades, new skins, evolving slings, back packs, gliders and etc. my kids are limited to 1 hour play time when school starts... if they have time between practice, games, homework and traveling with the team. Did you guys invest in your kids-sport, travel, outdoor activities, board games etc when your kids were little?

when kids were about 4 we did a ton of sports with them.. stopped at hockey and now they are traveling all over.. now 19 is obviously too late to start but maybe doing some activities with your son? Bowling, billiards, paintball even, traveling with him.. And reward him with what he likes?
Does he have plans of schooling ( I will guess he finished HS) college or trade school?

It’s just such a weird unhealthy situation. He doesn’t live in a loving and supporting home.. yet you still control him, yet you now want to back up on your word and rules.. he needs help yet he is not getting it from you., he is an adult and yet you treat him as a child. Weird.

1 mom found this helpful
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