Images by John 'K'

Life as seen through my lens…

Dealing with teenage addictions…

Wow – 2 updates in the same month. Will have to watch I don’t become addicted to this…..
We’ve lived in Pleasanton for 14 months now, and yesterday my wife and I finally got around to taking a hike up Pleasanton Ridge. Why oh why did we leave it so long. It was beautiful. The day couldn’t have been nicer – it was mid October, and we were hiking in shorts and t-shirts. We could both tell that we hadn’t done any serious hiking for a while, as the first real incline left us both looking for breath, but we walked through it, and worked our way to the top of the ridge. The view was amazing.
We would have stayed longer, but we had limited time, so we’ve vowed to return and spend longer. Some of the photos I took have been added as an album.
With stuff like this around us, it pains me that my daughters seem to spend so much time on-line on their computers playing games.
My youngest daughter at least manages to find time to do some things away from her computer – she’s heavily involved in the girls basketball team at her school, and during last year has formed some strong friendships with other girls from her year with whom she goes out from time to time. Having said that, she still spends a lot of time on-line playing Jedi Academy and Medal of Honor. She’s an able student, and when she puts her mind to it is capable of very good grades – she needs to make sure she doesn’t loose that focus, as otherwise her grades will suffer, and she may find herself being kicked off the basketball team if she lets things slip too much.
We have more of a problem with her elder sister though. She discovered Halo a few months back. I’m to blame for that as I play it a lot (I played it a lot more while we were separated last year, but still keep my hand in now) and I introduced her to it as an activity we could do together. I tend to play just one of the multi-player game-types (race), and even with limited time to play I consistently rank in the top 50 race players world-wide (when I spent more time playing I was in the top 10, but I’m trying to not play to those excesses again). Our daughter however seems to have a harder time limiting herself.
She too is pretty good at this game (perhaps it’s genetic), and because she’s found something she’s good at, she is on-line pretty much all the time she is home and not eating or sleeping. She’s ether playing, participating in message forums for a number of groups (clans) who play, and/or talking to them via the various group voice-chat programs available. It has become so much of an addiction for her that she’s frequently been on-line during the night when she is supposed to be sleeping. In recent times she’s done this to a point where she has given herself really bad headaches, and recently has even missed time at college because of her ‘addiction’. Apart from mealtimes, she rarely spends time with the rest of the family, and she has become a virtual recluse. She doesn’t seem to want to make friends outside of the on-line game community, and rarely ventures out of the house apart from to go to college or the occasional shopping trip.
As parents, we are getting seriously worried about this. We have started restricting her on-line time such that she can get some proper sleep, but we may need to scale her access back further. I don’t want to just stop it altogether (cold turkey) though, as I’m really worried about how doing so would make her react. She’s taken the move to the US harder than her younger sister, but she needs to see that there is a big chunk of life away from her computer that she is missing out on.
As a parent, I don’t know how best to deal with this. I don’t want to react in a way that hurts our already strained relationship, but something needs to be done. Not knowing what to do is a strange place for me to be. I don’t like having a problem without a solution… I’m almost at a stage where I think we might need to get professional help to deal with this, as the daughter herself doesn’t seem to see the damage she is doing to herself and her future at this critical point in her development.

One response to “Dealing with teenage addictions…

  1. evil little monkey October 24, 2006 at 5:43 am

    heya dad, well i know im probly the last person youd think would give you advice on this but here goes.. as i pretty sure you remember you use to have a simalar problem with me when i was sarahs age, n i spent most of my time up in my room on the pc.  knowing what sarah is like i dont think talkin to her will have much of a effect (she\’ll probably just strop and not listen) you could try doing something together once a week ( i know this might be hard with you at work n u and mum running round after paula too) try something that the girls would like to do or asking them if theres something they\’d like to do, even if its only something little.  This will hopefully make sarah want to spend more time with everyone if she knows she\’ll enjoy it, rather than just stopping her doing things with not much else to turn to.  i know shes a bit of a social recluse at the best of times so it\’s hard for her to make friends but if shes not going out much then she\’s not got much chance to.  i dont know if there are any familes with kids her age in the area that you know but if you do it might be an idea to throw a party or something and invited them along (i know hallowen is big over there maybe a hallowen party?) or get sarah to bring some friends from college, that way even though shes not going out n meeting people she might meet some people at the party she gets on with and see how things go from there. 
    i dunno how much help this will be but i hope it helps a little, good luck 🙂
    Love Gem xxxxxx

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