Video Game Addiction Help: Starting the Conversation with Your Child

When seeking video game addiction help, one of the most common questions parents have is, “How do I tell my child they are going to get treatment?”  The best answer to this question is as varied as the types of families we encounter. Simply put, there is no one-size-fits-all answer.

There are several factors to consider here.  First and foremost, Summerland Camps are in a different category as intensive inpatient “locked” facilities.  We are a behavior change camp that utilizes a coaching philosophy where individual therapy is also available.

The tone of the program at Summerland Camps is 100% positive.  We have exciting and engaging activities from drama and the arts to hiking, swimming, white water rafting, cave exploring, and team challenges using problem-solving skills as a group.  Campers choose what activities they want to participate in at camp.

Wait Until the Time is Right

For any treatment option, timing is critical.  It’s important to frame the treatment option in the best light.  Parents should avoid threatening a child with treatment.

Percent of Pathological Gamers Still Addicted 2 Years Later

Early intervention is key. In one study 84% of addicted gamers were still addicted two years later, demonstrating how difficult gaming addiction is to treat.

Treatment should never be viewed as a punishment.  If a child views treatment as a punishment, they will never value the treatment process.  It will always be seen as something to just survive through and your treatment dollars will be wasted.

Key Points:

Don’t use treatment as a threat.  Wait until the timing is right to approach the subject.

Video Game Addiction Help

At Summerland Camps, we offer video game addiction help for youth ages 7-21.

Stay Positive

In talking to your child about Summerland Camps, we recommend taking a positive approach.  Our purpose at Summerland Camps is not to lecture a child about making changes, but instead to motivate and inspire them to find their life calling.  We also teach them the same self-regulation skills taught to Olympic and professional athletes to change behaviors in order to reach a very specific goal.

Armed with inspiration and knowledge of how to change, campers are empowered to take control of their lives in a positive way.  Along the way, we develop insight and practice coping skills related to social interactions, frustration tolerance, and other areas of concern.

Key Points:

Your child should be excited about attending Summerland Camps.  We are an exciting and fun adventure-based camp where campers also learn how to set goals and take charge of their life.  Attending Summerland Camps is not a punishment- it’s a privilege.  It’s also the first option before more severe (and more expensive) options should be tried.

Stay the Course

It’s also important to follow through with treatment once you mention it to your child.  If you mention the possibility of treatment then back off, it sends a message that the behaviors are not severe enough to warrant an immediate change.

Sometimes parents call Summerland Camps and schedule their child for a session, then later cancel because “They turned over a new leaf and we want to give our child a second chance.”  This sends the wrong message to the child.

In our experience, “second chances” never turn out well.  A few weeks pass, and without a clinical intervention, nothing changes.  Now the child has learned how to better manipulate mom and dad by threatening, “I will always hate you if you send me” or similar.

We’ve also had the experience where a parent will decide to cancel the admission, they will only turn around to request an emergency intervention weeks later.  Generally, two issues result from this occurrence.

  • The child is now no longer able to attend the program. In this category, the child now exhibited some kind of behavior that is a disqualifier from Summerland Camps such as committing an act of violence.
  • This child has regressed in their behaviors to a point where the entire summer will be spent getting them back to a place where they were when the parent first called.

It’s also important to remember that it’s a generally accepted notion in therapy that early intervention is key.  While the study of video game addiction help and technology addiction treatment is new, there is an established body of literature that supports the effectiveness of early intervention models in the treatment and prevention of conduct problems (August, Realmuto, Hektner, & Bloomquist, 2001Frick, 1998; The Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group, 2002Walker, Severson, Feil, Stiller, & Golly, 1998Webster-Stratton, 1998).  Therefore, putting up roadblocks to treatment where problems can then fester is not advisable.  The time to act is now.

Key Points:

Don’t back down when discussing treatment with your child.  It’s okay to discuss the program, answer questions, and discuss the treatment process.  However, the decision to attend the program is not up for debate.  Like any medical treatment decision, making the right choice is the parent’s responsibility.

Be Specific

When discussing treatment with your child, be specific about the behaviors you are concerned about that warrant video game addiction help.  Give concrete examples, like pointing out gaming’s effect on the brain or how the child was not able to comply with the limits you have set.  It’s natural for a child to become defensive, so keep this part short and sweet.  Don’t enter into any debates about the cause or reasons for behaviors.  Simply state what you are concerned about then move on.

Key Points:

List your concerns, but don’t try to solve them in this conversation.  That is for a later date.

Be Supportive

Learning that you are going to treatment is not an easy thing for anyone.  It’s our experience, however, is that younger campers tend to put less of a stigma on the decision than older campers.

It’s okay to just explain that the camp is an exciting, adventure-based camp where we also talk about goal setting.  Let us be the ones who introduce the therapeutic component to the campers.

Let your child know that you will be with them each step of the way.  You will be checking in with their counselor and getting regular updates on their progress.  If you want to set up some rewards for successful completion, that’s okay too.

Key Points:

Take a supportive tone, let your child know you will be with them along their journey.

Don’t Make Any Side Deals

This one is critical.  100% of the time when parents make side deals with their child to somehow get out of video game addiction help, it comes back to bite them.  Specifically, do not make any deals to, “Just try the camp and I will come to get you if you don’t like it.”  This is a recipe for disaster.  Any quality program will push your child’s boundaries and they will feel uncomfortable from time to time.  A child’s discomfort might be as simple as missing a family pet, or it might be more complicated such as the therapist getting to a root issue.

Key Points:

Don’t offer to get your child if they are having a hard time at camp.  Reinforce that they will complete the process.

Video Game Addiction Help: Remember the Big Picture

As parents, we need to remember the big picture here.  We aren’t raising our children for just tomorrow- we are preparing them for a lifetime.  When your child is your age with their own kids, how will they remember the decisions you made today?  Will say, “Yes, my parents made the hard decisions that enabled me to become the person I am today” or will they say, “No, my parents weren’t very firm with me and let me get away with a lot and it’s really affected me today.”  One day your kids will realize how difficult it was for you to send them to treatment and they will appreciate your decision.

A side benefit of getting video game addiction help at Summerland Camps is that the treatment process involves goal setting and developing self-regulation skills.  Campers can use this same methodology to shape behaviors to attain higher-level goals- like college graduation, fitness goals, or saving for retirement.

Key Points:

Remember you are preparing your child to be an adult.  Feeling anxiety or guilt about enrolling your child in a program is a small price to pay for a successful transition to adulthood – arguably the most important job any of us will ever have.