Ed Lombardi 2018

What is an addiction? Per Psychology Today magazine, “Addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests a substance (e.g., alcohol, cocainenicotine) or engages in an activity (e.g., gambling, sex, shopping) that can be pleasurable, but the continuation of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary responsibilities and concerns, such as work, relationships or health. People who have developed an addiction may not be aware that their behavior is out of control and causing problems for themselves and others.”

Sometimes addictions come in other forms that seam innocuous; like watching television, eating, coffee and the one that I am most concerned about…online games for kids. I am witnessing 1st-hand the results of what happens when a young person gets to a place that they fit the entire definition of addiction.

When my grandchildren 1st came to live with us they were 5, 7 and 9. Xbox and other gaming systems were just starting to become popular. The kids were a little young to have much interest in them.

But as the years passed the games grew in popularity and so did my grandchildren’s desires. At that time, I had just started to work in retail and specifically in a store that sold the high-end Xbox. I witnessed kids come in with their parents and pull temper tantrums if they couldn’t get a specific game or gaming console. Sometimes it was downright embarrassing.

I remember the 1st console the grandkids got and warning my daughter to limit the time they could play on it. At that time the kids ranged from ages 8, 9 and 11.

It wasn’t long before one of them would play for hours on end and time limits were put on them. Much to no avail, one of my grandchildren would argue over wanting more time. Now at age 15 it has become a full-blown addiction.

I write this to bring attention to this epidemic that would dwarf drugs if there wasn’t so much legal money being made. If you search the web using the words “video game addiction,” you will see all kinds of responses ranging from “there is no such thing” to “it is defiantly an addiction.” But if you look further you will see that it is the digital world that clams there is no addiction and the medical world saying that it is.

I’m not sure how you define an addiction, but to me it is anything you cannot — I repeat, cannot — live without. Something that consumes every waking moment of your life. Something that forces you to separate yourself from your friends, family and school. Something that will cause you to become physically sick if you don’t get it.

When it takes control of you to the point that you will even threaten to hurt someone if they don’t leave you to their gaming. Something that even counseling doesn’t help with.

I will be very blunt. If after putting time limits and other restriction on your children, you find you are losing the battle, destroy the game console or sell it along with all of the games.

Remove the toxin from your child’s life. Do not hesitate or think that you will stunt their growth or any of that psychological babble. If you want to protect your kids, minimize their time and make them go out and play and interact with their peers.

Today’s children do not interact with their friends in person as much as they should. If you don’t believe me, watch them when they are sitting in the same room and they are texting each other. 

I know you are thinking these are the ramblings of a grandfather. I am a people watcher. I observe habits and watch interactions and this is a growing epidemic.

First published Nov. 29, 2017

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