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Addicted to Video Games

Addicted to Video Games

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Dear Rachel,

I don’t know what to do. My sixteen-year-old twin brother is out of control and my mother doesn’t seem to be able to deal with it. We had always been very close, but now all he does is play video games (6 hours on a school day and 10-12 on the weekends). He is mean to my mom and won’t talk to anyone, including me, and these games have become his new friends. I am really worried that he will become depressed but I don't know how to help him! Please advise.

No Clue What to Do

Dear No Clue What to Do,

Thank you for taking the time to write in about your brother. I applaud your effort on your family’s behalf.

It seems to me that there are two issues that need to be addressed. One is your brother and second, is a way for the rest of you relate to him. Let’s start with your brother…

From what you have expressed above, it sounds like your brother is in need of some immediate and acute intervention. You have described an anti-social, depressed and angry young man with low self-esteem who has basically shut himself off from the “real” world, in favor of a fantasy world. These behaviors you mention are truly worrisome. This is a boy who needs some professional counseling care ASAP. My question is, does he know that? Does your mother recognize that?

Being that he is still a teenager, being a dependent at home means that there are certain rules that need to be made and followed through. Ultimately what it means is that he’s still got to do what Mom and Dad say. The fear that he will “become” depressed is misplaced because he is already depressed. The question is what are you all going to do to help him? I would strongly encourage your mother to visit a counselor as well and get some guidance on how best to connect with him. It is difficult if not impossible to “help” someone who does not want to be helped. So she is going to need a lot of support helping him get to a different place in life.

Your mother needs to a) recognize that there is a problem, b) she needs to understand that there is strength in asking for help (like you did), and then follow through with getting him the help he needs. His behavior can be viewed as a silent cry for help. He probably doesn’t understand why he feels the way he does, he is probably confused and pained and doesn’t know how to cope with it. So, he chooses to not cope and ultimately, to disappear. It is her responsibility as a parent to throw him a life line.

Both your brother and your mother need to know that there is lots of help out there. Aside from therapy (which I strongly suggest), a few other ideas to get you started are a regular physical fitness routine (specifically a martial art, which is great for the body and the mind – it especially helps to build self confidence), and a nutritional work-up (food is the fuel that makes our body run, without proper nutrients the body simply can’t function the way it should, so visiting a nutritionist or a naturopath would be another great place to begin), and maybe even a vacation (without computer access) or some kind of camp. There are some amazing winter programs for boys all over the country.

In terms of you and your situation with him, you are not the one to insist on counseling, but you should continue to try to talk to him and let him know you love him and care about him. He may push you away right now, but it is because he is not well, and when he is, he will appreciate that you were there for him during this time. Chassidic philosophy teaches that “words from the heart enter the heart.” You may not be able to solve his problems, but you can speak to him, openly and honestly and share with him your pain and concern. I have no doubt that sooner or later he will recognize that you can truly be a support to him and even more importantly, a friend. Your brother is lucky to have someone like you who is so concerned for his well-being.

Best of luck and I hope to hear good news from you soon.

Rachel

“Dear Rachel” is a biweekly column that is answered by a rotating group of experts. This question was answered by Sarah Zadok.

Sarah Zadok is a childbirth educator, doula and freelance writer. She lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel, with her husband and four children.

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Discussion (5)
June 28, 2011
Video game fix
I am a systems engineer, I wrote a small that disabled the network card and re-enables it randomly from the hours of midnight to 6AM. It runs as an scheduled AT task, so its pretty hidden. After a few nights of fighting with this issue, he has learned he cannot sneak up to only have irritating issues and he has not figured out how to fix the issue either ;)
AJ
MD
January 11, 2011
Addicted to Video Games
Maybe your brother is depressed and feels he needs something to make him feel better, because he feels he can't talk to anyone. It's like a form of "running away" from a problem you feel you can't solve.

I've had on-and-off addictions to TV, but I wasn't exactly a "TV Zombie". I had many difficulties relating to people in the real world and felt TV was only thing that could educate me in ways no one else could. It was hard for people to understand that, but I felt I was doing the right thing at the time.

Your brother needs help to find out WHY he decided to "hide" in video games. Hopefully, your parents will be able to help.
Lisa
Providence , RI
May 22, 2009
Other
Cool site.
Rob Miller
Brookline, MA United States
chabadsj.com
November 14, 2007
re-addicted
Perhaps your mother is too afraid to see one of her beloved sons as having a problem. I would try to talk to your dad or a trusted adult who your brother might listen to. Failing that a teacher or someone like that. Maybe your Rabbi could suggest someone.

If you can not help or get help for your brother you may be able to get help for yourself and how to deal with this. I would go to any of the people I mentioned to ask for help in finding help for you and possibly help for your folks and your brother.

It sounds like family counseling would be a good thing. Also I think you need help with stress to deal with all this and it could be affecting your physical health-and your borther could also be needing physical help.
A trip to a physican-and eye doctor for your borther-might also be a good idea.

Where are your teachers-I am sure your borther;s schoolwork is suffering.

So again-if you can not get help for your brother see that you get help for yourself.

Luck to all.
Laura Mushkat
schenectady, new york
November 9, 2007
Video Game Addicted Teen
My son was addicted to a certain online video game when he was around 11or 12. I discovered he was getting up at night to sneak to play it, and pretending to do his homework when he was playing. I ended up taking the computer cord and only letting him use the computer when I could supervise.

For his science fair project for 7th grade, we did research on how the teen brain is affected by video games. It is the same pathway as if he was addicted to a pleasure-center stimulating drug such as cocaine. This is serious. I agree that intervention is necessary, and soon. There are professionals who specialize in this issue.
Chaya
San Diego, CA
chabadpoway.com


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