Q&A: Helping teen son with gaming addiction

Q: Our teenage son is addicted to a specific electronic game. We’re at a loss on how to help him. Do you have any advice or recommendations for us?

A: Many people consider addiction to be related exclusively to substances like drugs or alcohol, but in reality it can involve anything that is mind or mood altering to the point that a person is willing to neglect friends, family, and even physical health in order to pursue it. There is now abundant evidence that electronic games have the potential to elicit this kind of addictive behaviour.

Since it can be difficult to address the complex issue of addiction on your own, we’d strongly recommend that you enlist the help of a counsellor. Please do not hesitate to call our Family Support Services at 03-7954 7920 or write to support@family.org.my for a referral.

As your son works with a counsellor on issues related to his addiction, there are also some general steps you can take to prevent further harm in the long-term. These include: 1) setting time limits; 2) making sure your son completes all chores and homework before game play; 3) being aware of the content of the games your son is playing; 4) modelling good viewing/gaming habits yourself; 5) suspending play if your son is having difficulty with self-control; 6) monitoring your son’s attitudes and behaviour outside of gaming time; and 7) helping him develop interests and hobbies outside of video games.

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