following is a conversation I had with a teenager immersed in a computer
How long are you going to be with this game?
(not looking away from the screen.) Huh?
I said, how long are you going to be with this game
How long have you been on the computer?
wanting to be a badgering adult I leave him alone and return in half an
It’s a lovely afternoon, do you want to go for a little bike ride?
Do you want to call your friends then, and go out liming?
What do you want to do then?
(eyes glazed over as the computer game’s 3 D sucks him into another
world of which I play no part and have little knowledge) Five minutes
Five minutes for what?
What did you say?
(shouting now) Take off that thing. It’s turning you into a zombie. Go
outside and get some fresh air at least!
an hour and a shouting match later, the teenager reluctantly goes outdoors
to join his family. For the entire period he is absorbed by something on
his cell phone, pushing buttons. His eyes are watering. He barely seems
aware of anyone around him.
start telling him about childhood—breezy days being in and out of
friends’ houses, biking aimlessly, climbing trees, but his blank stare
freezes me out.
understand the force of his rage at being separated from the
computer/video games I go to Google, type in computer addiction and came
up with 30,600,000 sites. I gather from the first its psychological
symptoms include: Having a sense of well-being or euphoria while at the
computer; inability to stop the activity; neglect of family and friends;
feeling empty, depressed, irritable when not at the computer; lying to
employers and family about activities, problems with school or job.
physical symptoms include:
tunnel syndrome; dry eyes; migraine headaches; back aches; eating
irregularities, such as skipping meals; failure to attend to personal
hygiene; sleep disturbances and change in sleep pattern.
was not alone. I read thousands of entries like the one below:
son plays online games and will play for 12 or 14 hours straight, every
single day if no one objects, playing from the time he wakes up till he
falls asleep in the early hours of the morning. He’ll skip meals to
play. He will wait until we have gone to bed and then play games until 3
or 4 am. Of course he cannot get up at 7 am to go to school.
electronic addiction is confirmed by a study conducted at the Cyclotron
Unit of Hammersmith Hospital in London where researchers determined that
playing video games triggers the release of dopamine in the brain, the
production of which doubles during video game play.
increase of the psychoactive chemical was roughly the same as when a
person is injected with amphetamines or the attention-deficit disorder
drug, Ritalin. This is the first hard evidence that video game playing is
addictive, “the equivalent of a dose of speed.”
panic sets in. Then I read. Like any addiction this one can be treated.
Parents have done it by setting strict limits on times spent on electronic
games to one hour a day, or only on weekends. One fed-up set of parents
took away all their teenaged son’s electronic games. He was devastated,
but the parents substituted electronic time with homework, football and
socialising, which left him no spare time. As the teenager became fit and
learned social skills he revelled in his new confidence and agreed to play
games only occasionally at friends’ houses.
ironic, I’m using the Internet on the computer to find out how to
conquer its addictive destructive power.