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My brother is 12 years old and has a serious addiction to playing video games and watching anime.

Whenever my friends are over he never lets us watch a movie together and forces us to watch it on an iPad. What I'm really worried about is how he'll grow up doing this. My parents don't particularly care about this, more specifically my mom.

My parents are divorced so when at my moms, he feels as if he can do anything he wants, fakes he's sick, lays in bed all day and he does nothing but be lazy. I want him to stop this. My brother is nice to me, playful and good at soccer and running but sometimes it seems as if he hates doing those things.

Cross country is over, and so is soccer and very often when those sports were going on he didn't bother to ever go to them because he was playing Xbox. When at my dads, my dad usually got him out of bed, but sometimes even he fell for his tricks. My dads an athletic guy so he tries to get him out. He's just extremely lazy!

My brother plays rainbow six siege and modern warfare on Xbox and watches animes that arnt "kawaii" or cute but pretty violent and brutal. My brother often plays 8+ hours a day. My dad once woke up at 1 in the morning and he was playing Xbox, so he went downstairs and told him to go to bed and he said okay but when he went upstairs he decided he could stay on longer, went down again later and told him, he went up.

About 3/4 hours later my dad woke up and there he was on Xbox again at around 5 in the morning. Claimed he couldn't sleep. My brothers grades are dropping and his athletic skills are too. sickness/headache rate is going up with every hour he spends on Xbox. PLEASE HELP!!

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    Are you sure this is "video game addiction"? It sounds more like general disinterest in his current life, or a depression. – Erik Dec 19 '16 at 6:58
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    Playing video games is often an escape from current life. It could be he's trying to hide from something (possibly the divorce) and that's why he spends his days on the console. In a way he's "sticking his head in the sand". – Bugs Dec 19 '16 at 9:10
  • Sounds right but he Has friends, He's pretty confident, has trust in me but I don't think it's the devorce . My parents are normal people, and it's already been sorted out to the point were we can all comfortably talk about the subject. I think it's because he doesn't have fun going on, doesn't like to invite friends over but always talks to online friends through headset, I think these friends are what keeps him to Xbox he talks most comfortably with them . I don't want to take that away. What activities can he do to possibly make his life more interesting but he can still include the Xbox? – Isabel Dec 19 '16 at 14:11
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    @Isabel are you sure his online friends aren't also his real life friends? He might be connecting with them online instead of inviting them over. – Cyoce Dec 21 '16 at 5:56
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Not an Addiction

If someone is doing something excessively we are very quick in seeing addictions nowadays. I had this myself when I was a child, I played some days up to 16 hours and I often got told I am addicted while I myself knew that I wasn't. If something more interesting or fun came up I had no problem to completely ignore any kind of media for even weeks. The reality was, that my life around pretty much was a big mess and keeping it distant was what I liked about gaming.

Your situation seems very similar. It is not very likely that he is addicted but that there is not much around that he like to do more, or that he is avoiding other parts of his life.

But not being about an addiction, doesn't really makes this situation better. There is a huge risqué of a downwards spiral of getting away from his life because it is not good, and then, because of his distance, his life getting worse.

To help him it is important to have social contacts. I don't know if he has any friends at school or somewhere else, but the best way to get his life back on track is to improve his social live, if you are somehow able to improve his social live at school, that would be the best, but since I myself have not the slightes clue how someone would manage that, some other activities would be fine, too. What is very important for social contacts, is, that he is not more "strange" than he is confident. To make it simple, if something is out of the ordinary people will react on it, kids are even worse than adults in that way. If he is confident with his unusual traits, there is no problem, but if he isn't he is in a very high danger to become a victim of bulling, which also leads to isolation and (in this case) more hiding behind an XboX.

What you also can do, is trying to talk to him about, his live and problems, including his relationship to his parents. This might be not easy because you need his trust for that. But that way you can for once help him to deal with problems in his live and also get information about problems, you might be able to help him with.

At last, your parents need to get their lives back on track. I don't know how bad it is with them, but dealing with a divorce is hard, dealing with parents that don't have their lives together is a nightmare. If there are problems, like them not talking to each other or getting permanently into arguments, even if they already live separated, or even worse things like drugs, stress or other heavy life problems, they need to be under control or even better solved.

  • There's an excellent series on "Video Game Addiction" by the Extra Credits team, which uses the term "Compulsion" to replace Addiction, for exactly the reasons you state. – deworde Dec 22 '16 at 13:49
  • @deworde youtube.com/watch?v=ao8L-0nSYzg is also a nice and short explanation of this view on addiction, but more on a general way. – Etaila Dec 22 '16 at 13:59
  • Funnily enough I did this exact same thing with reading as a teenager. I would read all day on weekends, stay up late to read. Replace games with reading in this question and you have me. It was for the same reason too. Escape (from being bullied, in my case). Except, I got praised for it. My parents weren't "concerned about all this reading, young lady". They were happy I read all day. Interesting how technology and games has a stigma attached to it. – user19750 Dec 23 '16 at 13:42
  • @stanri A big part comes from the fact that many parents in the day, when the stigma began, had no idea about gaming or PCs in general. I saw that with my own mother, she never really understood much I did on my PC and so was very uncomfortable with it. Then there is simple business reasons for the stigma. PCs and especially gaming are in opposition to TV and Print, so these two (and others of course as well) used every reason to spread fear against PCs and Gaming. That together with the simply, "old people hating what young people are doing" nonsense lead to many false accusations and fear. – Etaila Dec 23 '16 at 14:28
  • @stanri But PCs and gaming aren't the only place where this happened, you can find similar things with TV and Music, when you look for older documentary. Under "satanic panic" and "rock'n roll" for example you find a huge fear campaign against the music of the 70s and 80s. Or there are funny things about horror movies. This is one of the things that never changed, just comes for every generation with a different face. – Etaila Dec 23 '16 at 14:31
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I think you'll find a lot of people on StackExchange can empathize with your brother as most probably went through their own phase of being addicted to videogames since the gaming community and the coding community tend to have a lot of overlap. I played videogames like your brother did when I was a teenager.

That being said, I wouldn't throw out the term "addiction" so casually, especially not directly to your brother. Saying things like "You're addicted to videogames!" isn't likely to change his behavior at all. It didn't change mine. I played videogames constantly because they were more enjoyable than my real life at the time. Eventually as I got older and I got a job, joined some sports, started planning for college, got more involved with my church, made more friends, took up running, started learning the guitar, etc... the appeal of videogames diminished gradually. It tooks years, though.

Videogames are shiny achievement simulators and they give people that rush of accomplishing and experiencing exciting things without all the sacrifice along the way that would be required in accomplishing and experiencing those things in real life. Once people start enjoying "real" accomplishments more than virtual ones their obsession with videogames either goes away completely or it diminishes into a casual shot of enjoyment.

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    I disagree with your assessment of video games as "false accomplishments". Beating a difficult level of a video game is just as much an accomplishment as say, scoring a goal in football/soccer. The path is exactly the same: [Set object] -> [Determine Path to Objective] -> [Gain skill needed] -> [Accomplish goal]. – sharur Dec 20 '16 at 20:25
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    @sharur I meant "real" not as opposed to "false", but as opposed to "virtual". – LCIII Dec 20 '16 at 20:53
  • Thank you for clarifying. It's a bit of a touchy subject with me (can you tell), especially at this time of year. – sharur Dec 20 '16 at 21:29
  • It still is the equivalent to white sugar. Empty calories with no real value. Changing the bytes on another person's server (which is about what online gamers do) does nothing for a person's life. Improvement for the future is zero. Having fun that matters and improves is superior. The actual impact matters long term. – Haunt_House Dec 24 '16 at 16:17
  • @Haunt_House: I thoroughly disagree. Video games can definitely improve a person. I can personally attest that they have helped me improve my skills of cost/benefit analysis, impersonal evaluation and prediction, time management skills, not to mention leading me to my current career. – sharur Jan 7 '17 at 1:34
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What you're describing is something very typical of teenagers. I myself went through that exact same thing, except it didn't end until my mid 20's.

Is your brother a bit of a loner? Maybe not the most popular kid in school? Maybe he doesn't have a lot of friends, or has trouble relating to those in his age group for some reason?

Video games are a means for him to relax, disconnect, and feel really bad-ass at something. For all you know, within his circle of online friends he is a well respected peer of their gaming community. The respect and admiration he might get as a talented player in an online match may very well be fueling this "addiction", in addition to the sheer joy of playing games.

I would suggest trying to gently channel your brother's passions in some other directions rather than forcibly trying to part him from his Xbox. For myself, I developed an "addition" to reading science fiction. You could try pointing him in that direction, as he will build more of a knowledge base, and develop intellectually to a greater degree from reading some quality novels instead of mindlessly playing the same online maps and slaughtering digital foes.

The second aspect of your question - falling grades - is more serious, however. This most likely stems from a more complex situation. I'll speak of my own high school experience, as my own grades degraded rather badly as my "addiction" to video games and science fiction started taking precedence over school work.

You see, I didn't want to do badly in school - I was a top student, and dreaded poor marks. However, I also didn't feel engaged with school, and loved immersing myself in the world of video games and SF novels. What eventually happened is that I slowly got hooked into the low work/high reward trap of playing video games for instant gratification. I would put the harder work of getting good marks off in favor of the easier to achieve pleasure of being very good at video games. As my marks degraded, my "addictions" became even more pronounced, as they were now escapist in nature.

What I would suggest is that you start introducing some structure and rewards into your brother's life. Ask him to help you do some chores, and reward him for doing so. Not monetarily, but with a kind word: "good job!".

Build the association of a job well done with things other than video games. Maybe sit down with him, and create a weekly / daily list of things that need to be accomplished. As he crosses them off the list, gently nudge his sense of having achieved something positive. Congratulate him, take him out for ice cream, or pizza, etc. Don't simply reward a mediocre effort, encourage him to embrace responsibility.

I recognized my own growing disconnect, and started forcing myself to work out, go out, etc. I used similar lists of weekly and especially weekend goals, and I was surprised at how badly I wanted to go back to gaming even though I was consciously trying to quit. To this day, I still enjoy gaming, and sometimes get sucked into a week-long bout of 2 AM online matches. However, the tool I use to snap out of it are those lists, and rewarding myself for crossing items off of it (wash the car, ok I get a beer. Do the laundry, sweet, I get $10 toward my new gadget that I want).

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In video games, one can feel significant. They provide variety, They provide a sense of progress (levels etc). They block out most thinking and distract from problems.

Of course they do almost nothing for the person playing them. Your brother plays them for a reason. If you want him to play less, find a better alternative (better from his point of view) and he'll probably switch.

Making him stop playing, maybe even against his will merely creates a vaccuum. The needs he filled by playing are still there.

So, is his life too boring or does he run from something?

How about you two unite and instead of watching anime or playing games, you start making them?

http://www.blender.org This software is pretty crazy. You can make games with it, do animation and even do drawing animation. Get creative and build a fan base. That'd be real growth and real significance.

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