LOS ANGELES, Calif. (FOX 11) - The videos are all over the internet. Parents full of rage, destroying their kid’s video game consoles, furious about addiction to video games, and the neglecting of responsibilities.
According to new research, some 88 percent of American youth play video games, with eight percent of those teens showing signs of video game addiction. Now, therapists are scrambling to figure out how best to treat the problem, as families risk being fractured if the issue remains untreated.
Signs of video game addiction include significant weight gain or weight loss, mood swings, sleep deprivation, avoiding friends and family, lying about the time spent playing video games, skipping meals, and poor work & academic performance.
Tyler Barnett, known as “XDad” on the live streaming platform Twitch, tells FOX 11 he used to be a video game addict.
“I would go to school, finish my school, come home, and immediately be on the video games,” he said. “It started to affect my grades, I wasn’t eating, I wasn’t sleeping. It started to affect my social interactions in real life, how I dealt with my parents, so much that it physically affected me.”
Barnett said he had no friends, he was bullied a lot, and he needed an outlet so he turned to video games.
“There was a thriving community, a bunch of these people just like me,” he said.
“We knew he was playing excessively, but we didn’t know the extent to which he was playing,” said Dr. Robin Barnett, a psychotherapist and addictions counselor who happens to be Tyler’s mom.
“I think that the lying was probably the most hurtful of all the problems with his gaming,” she said. “He did fool us, for a very long time.”
When Tyler’s obsession began to impact his grades, his social life, and his physical health, the family sent him to therapy.
“The gaming was a symptom of an underlying problem, and when we saw the extent of the gaming and we saw how said he was, we got him to counseling.”
Dr. Deena Mannion is the Chief Clinical Officer at Alo House Recovery Centers, where they have a special therapy program for gaming addiction.
“It’s not just oh you become obsessed or addicted to a game, I need to check out of my life, why? There’s a reason, we want to find out what that reason is,” she said.
Mannion said the therapy consists of reconnecting the gamer to their friends, family, and school.
“And if they don’t have those things, we try to build those things in, so they can see there’s something other than just this video game.”