Addicted to the computer

Q: I’m a single parent with a 16-year-old boy. It’s impossible to get him off the computer. I’ve tried to lure him away by suggesting outings and inviting friends over, but he just gets angry and shouts at me to leave him alone. I’m scared he’s addicted.

A: You are right to be concerned about your son's addiction to the computer. It is increasingly common particularly among teenagers. The trouble is, it replaces the need or desire to communicate with a real person. It prevents them from living fully and interacting in the real world.

You have more 'power' in this situation if your son is still at school, and you own the computer. It’ll be easier for you to set limits, which you may have to do.

Firstly, have an adult-to-adult talk with him about how this addiction will disadvantage him in life. I suggest you give him my book, You Can Communicate, explaining that it will help build his confidence and communication skills. Secondly, offer him an incentive to get more balance in his life, for example, offer to pay the fees for a club or sport he’s expressed interest in. Thirdly, see if you can get him to voluntarily ration his time on the computer.

If all of this doesn't work, and it's your computer, you could deny him access or restrict access. You will have an angry son, but deep in his heart he will know you want what’s best for him.

Iris welcomes your questions but cannot give you personal answers or guarantee that your question will be answered on this website. Questions may be edited to protect the writer’s identity. Responses should under no circumstances replace medical, counselling, legal or other appropriate professional advice.



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