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14 year old son has ADHD and ODD and is completely addicted to online gaming...

Parents_Support_One_Another_@_MyOutOfControlTeen_com/support = I need help with the following issue: My 14 year old son has ADHD and ODD and is completely addicted to online gaming. He is in trouble a lot at school and has poor grades. He is disrespectful and horrible most of the time. He stays up very late and is sleeping through the day (is school holiday time now) and will not participate in any family events (even Christmas). Any advice for how to help him with this? thanks Tracey


Online gaming is a very popular obsession. However, don’t completely forbid your son to engage in this obsession. His use of the computer can be a great bargaining chip for you (i.e., he won’t work for what you want, but he will work for what he wants – and he wants to play computer games).

Breaking an obsession is like running a war campaign. If not planned wisely, or if you attempt to fight on many fronts, you're guaranteed to fail. The real issue here is the fact that your son spent too much time playing games, which resulted in poor academic performance. This resulted in a second issue, namely, his behavior took a turn for the worse after you took his computer away. Thus, he should be able to play video games, but within limits.

To make his games less seductive, find ways to minimize your son's downtime at home, especially those times when he is alone. Maybe he would be interested in arts and crafts, theater, martial arts, bowling, swimming, or movie-making. Maybe a social-skills group would be a good idea. Maybe he could join a youth group at your church or synagogue. Help your son find some activity that he likes and a place where he can do it.

Teens often lack the "internal controls" needed to regulate how much time they spend playing computer games. It's up to moms and dads to rein-in the use of the games. The first step is often the hardest. Both parents must agree on a set of rules:

•    How much time may be spent on a weekend day?
•    How much time may be spent playing the games on school nights?
•    If the child plays Internet-based games, which sites are acceptable?
•    Must chores be done first?
•    Must homework be done first?
•    Which games are taboo, and which are O.K.?

Once parents agree, sit down with your son and discuss the rules. Make it clear which rules are negotiable and which are not. Then announce that the rules start right now. Be sure you can enforce the rules (e.g., if your child is allowed to spend 30 minutes at computer games on school nights - and only after homework and chores are done - the game and game controls must be physically unavailable when he gets home from school). If games involve a computer or a television set, find a way to secure the system until its use is permitted. When the 30 minutes of playing are up, retake the controls. If he balks, he loses the privilege to play the game the following day. If you come into his bedroom and find him playing the game under the covers, he might lose the privilege for several days.

Give warning times: "You have 15 more minutes... You now have 10 minutes... There are only five minutes left." A timer that is visible to your son can be helpful. When the buzzer rings, say, "I know you need to reach a point where you can save the game. If you need a few more minutes, I will wait here and let you have them." If he continues to play despite your step-by-step warnings, do not shout or grab the game or disconnect the power. Calmly remind him of the rules, and then announce that for each minute he continues to play, one minute will be subtracted from the time allowed the next day (or days). Once you get the game back, lock it up. When he finally regains the privilege to play, you can say, "Would you like to try again to follow the family rules?"

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