What to do when your child is addicted to video games

What to do when your child is addicted to video games
Melanie Hempe Founder of ScreenStrong, a non-profit organisation that works with families to eliminate childhood screen dependency.
31 July, 2023 6 min read

We were on the road, driving our oldest son home from his first year in university, when the moment of clarity hit. ‘Mum, I’ve been in bed for the past week,’ Adam said. ‘I didn’t leave my dorm room. I didn’t finish my classes. That video game did something to me.’

I’ll never forget the shock I felt. What do you mean, ‘That game did something to me’? At that moment, six years of conflict suddenly made sense. I finally realised: our son was trapped in his virtual world and couldn’t get out.


I should have noticed the warning signs when Adam was in his early teens and started dropping out of sports and hobbies to play more video games. He also began choosing his gaming world over spending time with us or going to church. I hated my new job as the ‘Game Cop Mum’, setting the kitchen timer and dealing with constant conflicts over his game time.

Was it normal for a teen boy to be happily hunched over a screen in the dark basement for hours? My mum friends assured me, ‘At least he’s not out getting into trouble. At least you always know where he is.’ I remember thinking this was setting a low bar. But he was my first child, and he seemed to be learning so much on that screen – at least, that’s what he told me.

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