There is a Monster at the End of This Video Game

boy, kid, child, son

His face was a soft scowl beneath sunlicks of golden hair. His eyes were heavy with lash and pout. He willed a drop of cold sweat, and felt nothing but a tingle where the shakes should be.

It was not an addiction of life-threatening substance, and I don’t mean to make light of those that face such things, but it was an addiction all the same. His need for video games, and the agony and anger that festered in their withdrawal, were cause for concern and much discussion. Neither of which were received with an ounce of appreciation.

So it was that promises were made and not kept, deals were worked and quickly defaulted, and we, the parents, were fooled again. Shame on us.

We took away the Wii. I wanted to sell the lot, including a ton of games and accessories, to the highest bidder I could find on the Internet, but I was outvoted by a game-loving wife and a younger brother that didn’t deserve it.

To be clear, there was a precedent for denying my oldest son access to the games that he so craved, and we hoped that it would work again. Last year the Wii was broken for months and during that time he morphed from an 8-year-old emo kid back into the laughing boy we had once known.

Then, when the game became available, he started the slow descent back into the seedy underbelly of video game addict—along with the negative images that such a thing is sure to conjure.

I say slow, because he eased into it at a rate that made us wonder if it was actually happening. Excuses were made. He was tired. His brother was pestering him. The batteries were running low. For just a split second the sun was in his eyes. We wanted to believe. We let it happen.

What happens is that a sweet, sensitive boy becomes a monster. He yells and screams at those that play with him or those that tell him it is time to stop. He talks in quick, sharp daggers of hateful speech and he whines when we mention it. It is ugly.

The thing is, the time allotted to playing video games was already a small one. He was only able to play on the weekends and for a set amount of time. When the behavior became an issue those windows began to close, and eventually they just slammed shut.

The kid had every warning and chance in the world.

These days he is prone to complaining about his hardships and what passes for problems. He curses the world and lets it weigh upon his shoulders. He hasn’t played video games in weeks and he still craves his fix. His behavior has yet to change in the way that we had hoped.

I wonder if it is too late.

I am not against video games. Sure, I’m not a gamer, but I did love playing on my Atari 2600 as a boy. These days I only play video games when the kids (or my wife) ask me to join them. I’m on the computer all day and don’t care to spend my evenings on another one. However, I do believe that video games have a lot of beneficial side effects to offer when played in reasonable doses. And they’re fun. I get that.

I like video games. I just like my son more.

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