16 February 2022
Alexandre Haslin
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Video games: how to help teenagers regain control

Video games are part of many teenagers’ lives. But in some cases, this mere form of entertainment can become problematic, and many hours of gaming could come at the expense of social lives, sleep and even school. As such, excessive gaming can generate a lot of misunderstandings and conflicts within the family unit and many parents can quickly feel helpless faced with such a situation. How can we help a teenager who has lost control over gaming?

To be able to help an adolescent, it is important to understand the mechanisms that lead to addiction. To learn more, you can read our article, Video games: from recreation to addiction.

Engaging conversation

Being tempted to punish an adolescent by taking away their game console, for example, might not be the ideal solution. « If interactions with teens are only negative, we are not fostering openness to change. » explains Mr. Miguel Therriault, Professional Services Coordinator at the adolescent treatment center Le Grand Chemin.

«We should encourage teens to talk about their game, like we would if they played hockey. »

Mrs. Maxime Miranda, Development Coordinator at Gambling: Help and Referral and Drugs: Help and Referral adds: «We must help parents understand that if a teen plays, it is not the device’s fault. Turning off the internet or taking away the console does not solve the problem. » For Mrs. Miranda, it is, above all, imperative to encourage conversation with teens and to be interested in their lives to understand the reasons for this excessive gaming: is it a way for them to socialize with friends online? Are they being marginalized at school? Are they being admired by their online community for their gaming skills? « We should encourage teens to talk about their game, like we would if they played hockey. So that gaming becomes less taboo. »


Having a life offline

As well as being interested in the teen’s online life, it is also important to promote offline activities. «Instead of focusing on the problems with life online, we should encourage life offline. » explains Mrs. Maxime Miranda. Family activities, visiting loved ones, sports, arts, etc. The more opportunities for teens to have fun in everyday life, the more these opportunities will contribute to diverting them from online activities. «We can make offline life fun. » states Mrs. Miranda.


Establishing rules

Developing offline activities will not necessarily eliminate the temptation to play. Instead of banning playing altogether, it is important to establish rules to maintain a balance between game time and social or family time. For example, it may be more productive to offer time online as a reward for teens doing a chore. «Adolescents need limits. If they never had any, they cannot understand why they should deprive themselves of this joy. […] Keep in mind that teenagers do not think in the same way as adults. » concludes Mrs. Maxime Miranda.


Asking for help

Are you going through this with your teenager and are having a hard time starting a conversation? You can seek help. There are available resources, such as the Québec’s CISSS and CIUSSS’s Centres de réadaptation en dépendance addiction centers. These centers can not only help adolescents, but parents as well, by providing them with the necessary tools to deal with what is happening at home. Therapy programs given by professional counselors can also help your teen regain control over video games. To find out which resources are better suited for you or your child, call us at 1-800-461-0140 or chat with us, bottom right. Our counselors are happy to provide you with information and all relevant resources.

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