Kill your video games and come back to life

October 18, 2017

When Brad was young, his mother allowed him to play video games for hours at a time because it kept him out of her hair. Unfortunately, it backfired. When he was grown, he flunked out of four colleges, got married, had a child, and is still working a menial job at age 30. His wife is also a gamer, and their child is struggling with schoolwork and social issues and needs a great deal of care.

Meanwhile, one of the sets of grandparents is still helping them financially, thinking that giving them a hand up will help. It won’t. Brad is still dependent on this money from relatives and is showing no motivation to get more schooling or training so he can find a job that pays well enough to support his family.

There is no reason for him to be motivated. His gaming is subsidized. He has told his family that he has anxiety, likely due to the overstimulation that comes from gaming, so they allow him to continue what he is doing.

Max was engaged, but he eventually called it off. It had nothing to do with his fiancée. The real issue was that gaming had damaged his brain enough that he just didn’t want to face that responsibility.

Bob was going to college, but he didn’t take a full load because it would interfere with his gaming. Instead, he took only two or three classes at a time, and his wife celebrated when he passed two in a semester. Meanwhile, she is working and raising their children while he spends hours each day gaming.

Although he tells her he has to relax before doing his homework, it seems as if gaming takes the place of homework. And family time. And couple time. And sleep. I bet his wife feels ignored. I would if I were her.

And then there is David. He was in my class one semester at the university. I didn’t need anyone to tell me he was a gamer. I can generally tell by how well they do in my class. But I was wrong with this one. He was actually addicted to Netflix. His friend, Jack, who was also in the class, was a gamer. Neither of them did very well, and it wasn’t due to lack of ability. It was simply lack of motivation.

One more. While his wife worked full time to support them, Lance took two classes, passed one, and spent the majority of his time gaming. He ended up allowing a lady friend over to game with him for hours at a time while his wife was at work. I doubt his wife knew, or would have approved of the arrangement.

Companies that sell video games try to make them as addictive as possible. I don’t believe parents knew how damaging they were back when they were first released. It just seemed like an easy way to entertain children and keep them quiet. But the repercussions are now being felt, and these games are seriously damaging lives.

Blake, for instance, is a single young man in his mid-twenties. His social skills are lacking, and when we visited with him one day, he was rather free with the insults towards us. He called us a few offensive names because we don’t allow our children to game.

However, by his age, our children had graduated from a university with a valuable degree, and they are all, so far, living independent, fulfilling lives. Blake still lives at home, is not holding a job, and spends his time in a pursuit that really isn’t accomplishing anything. I’ll take those insults as a compliment.

One day one of our church leaders was giving a sermon to a large congregation. He said, “You need to take your gaming devices and throw them away. Don’t give them away or sell them and make them someone else’s problem. Just get rid of them.”

There was an audible gasp in the room. I am sure that was difficult for many families, but I suspect this church leader had seen enough young adults treading water, and quite a few teens who had gone on to more difficult problems because of gaming.

If it can be enjoyed once in a while, video games really wouldn’t be a bad thing, but for many people, it’s not. It consumes their lives. It keeps them from accomplishing things. There is no time to enjoy real life, and it can severely damage social skills.

One school-aged boy, when asked what their family did together for fun, started to say, “Well, we like to...” When the adult added that he couldn’t include gaming, the boy was stumped. He had no idea what his family did for fun besides gaming. The children in that family would have loved to go swimming, hiking, or blowing bubbles in the yard. I hope gaming wasn’t taking the place of homework, but it’s possible.
It’s sad to think that a fake world can take the place of real life, that some people don’t get to experience so many things due to the time they have spent gaming. It’s sad that gaming accomplishes nothing of value, even with the many hours spent on it.

I asked one of my students if it was worth forty grand a year for him to game. He had to think about that one. I explained that for every extra year it took him to get through college, he was losing about $40,000. He looked a little shocked. He should. The price he is paying is high, and that is only the monetary price.

Some experts say that it takes at least a year to detox from too much gaming. It’s time to get started.

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