INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Parents say we’re losing a generation and they just don’t know how to reach their children. We’re not talking about losing young people to violence or drugs…. we’re talking about video games.
It’s a serious addiction that’s growing with every new game craze. The latest, Fortnite.
“Really every time I’d wake up I would just think about it,” 14-year-old Christopher Allen said.
Laser focused, secluded in his bedroom for hours. Chris admits the wildly popular online video game Fortnite became his addiction.
“I’ve won around 200 matches. Probably played around 2,000 matches,” Chris said.
Chris admits his addiction peaked over the summer when he played about 8 hours a day even staying up all night and watching the sun come up.
Chris is now in his first year of high school. The tech savvy teen says he’s scaled back to about 3 hours a day during the week, just enough to scratch his itch to play. While school is his primary focus. His gaming world is an adrenaline rush.
“I’ll get headaches. That’s what I’ll get. Headaches from like losing,” Chris said.
Kids and parents may think it’s just a cool game. But Fortnite and other video games can lead down a dark road, a fantasy game causing real life problems.
“So they’ve actually done studies that show that the same pleasure centers are activated in the brain when you play video games as when you do drugs,” Counselor, Christy Aloisio said.
Christy specializes in addiction. Last year, the World Health Organization declared gaming disorder a disease. While some in the medical field don’t buy it, Christy says the definition is spot on.
“I’ve seen young men fail out of college, I’ve seen them get to the point they’re suicidal because their life is falling apart. I don’t think people realize how far it could go but if it really takes over your life,” she said.
And that’s why Chris’ mom stepped in.
“I couldn’t get him off his game, called his name several times and when he did come he ran to the table, he did not sit down, he stood up, scarfed his food down and ran back to the room and that’s when I noticed he had a problem,” mom Christina Lockett said.
Christina started to notice one of the key signs of video game addiction. Withdrawing from the outside world.
“We used to spend a lot of time together like going out to eat, you know to the mall, museums, just for a walk. You know anything like that. And now he doesn’t want to go. He doesn’t want to hang out with me anymore,” Christina said.
So, we had a challenge for Chris. No video games, specifically Fortnite for 48 hours. With not much faith in himself he committed to try. He even documented his weekend with no video games.
Chris spent a lot of time on his laptop. After a while he got a little fidgety in his room. Watching friends play the game was the most annoying part.
“It was a bad struggle trying not to play the game and I am at 29 hours left and I’m trying to last. It’s crazy,” Chris said in a recorded video diary.
So here’s what filled the void of not playing the game. That quality time mom had been longing for like going to a Pacers game and eating a meal at the table as a family. And even shocking himself, he made it to the end of the challenge.
Chris says he’s proudly in Fornite addiction recovery. And is realizing there’s more to life to live out there.
So what now? Chris and his mom have a heightened awareness that if his love for video games isn’t monitored it could create a slippery slope. So, mom will be watching his gaming time and most of all…his grades.
“No parent wants their child to be addicted to anything even if it’s a video game or you know anything like that. I just want to start putting limitations on it,” she said.