“In college 65% of girls and 85% of boys are game players and one in eight gamers develops patterns of addiction. According to Merissa Orzack, For many students, choosing gaming over academics has become the norm. Students stay up too late or all night, miss class, skip assignments, and if confronted, can exhibit belligerent behavior with instructors/advisors. Orzack (2005b) noted that “Many counselors and deans of students report an increased association between inappropriate and excessive computer use and rule infractions, relationship problems, and academic difficulties (p. 1).”
Game playing often begins from boredom; the excitement becomes the reward. This behavior is reinforced on an intermittent reinforcement schedule – the most powerful type of reinforcer. The college classroom comes into direct competition with the daily reinforcement from the video games. Playing provides an alternate reality in which problems are solved and success and reward is possible. When life seems out of control, the game provides a sense of control. If life becomes difficult or stressful, the game will provide an avenue of escape from responsibility and reality.”http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/View-Articles/Game-Addicted-Students.aspxOrzack, M. (2005a). Q&A with Dr. Orzack. Retrieved from http://www.computeraddiction.com/peter.htm
Gaming MYTHS in college:
- He will instantly fall in love with the college life of meeting new friends and learning new things.
- He will trade his game in for intramural football and the debate team.
- He will be able to say no to the all night gaming temptations.
- He will be a leader and encourage his dorm mates to just say no to porn.
- He will be more interested in getting good grades than he was in high school.
The awkward middle school emotions or hs freshman feelings may repeat in college as the child is feeling his way through new territory and independence. Mom is no long there to make sure he moves away from the game to eat and join the family so the ne grad is happy to enjoy this “game gluttony” phase. While a few of his peers will be meeting new people and going to mixers and joining clubs the gamer will be perfectly happy in his dorm with his big monitor, head set and newly purchased 50 foot Ethernet cord. Like an umbilical cord the __ cord connects your child to the game. He has been dreaming about this day that mom doesn’t call him for dinner and he can game into the wee hours of the morning uninterrupted and unbothered. But that is the problem he is uninterrupted and no one is knocking at his door to get him to class. He gets his life blood from this source but eventually it won’t sustain his real needs of thriving in the college world. If he did not learn how to balance his media while under your roof he will not be able to do it in college outside of a miracle. What you practice is what you become. What you do and what you learn to love is what fall back on especially in in new uncomfortable situations.
How to manage gaming in college.
Do not give him computer supplies. Do not give him a big screen/monitor for graduation. He does not need a new TV or new monitor in his room. Take back the 50 foot Ethernet cord to and exchange it for a good alarm clock and some speakers for his iPod.
Ask him questions and listen to his answers. Keep communication open. Ask questions about how he will get his internet in his dorm room? Will he have a game curfew in college? Will he skip class to play? Will he be too tired to go to class because he stayed up late playing? listen a lot and don’t jump in with solutions after two seconds. Help him process what this will really look like on a day to day basis.
Accountability. Encourage him to get an accountability partner in college, parent can offer to be that person for him before he finds a good friend but eventually he should have an trusted accountability partner in college and it should not be his gaming buddy.
Help him research clubs and fellowship groups on campus. There are many to be found. These groups provide fellowship opportunities and any effort to make new relationships is his goal.
Go on college visits with him. Have him investigate the freshman opportunities for getting plugged into fun activities and clubs. Parents, check out dorm details. Can he get in a freshman dorm? Do not over control but do take interest and guide him in this area. It is not about the biggest room or the nicest doom but rather about the groups that he will meet. Talk with other students in the dorm ask questions. Do they game all night? Take advantage of any opportunity to stay for a weekend visit in the doom.
Game plan. Have him talk with you about what he wants out of school. He may not write these goals down but you may be able to get him to talk them through at the dinner table.
Discuss signs of trouble; make sure he is aware of signs that he needs help.
Discuss signs of gaming problems in college:
- Skipping classes.
- Not interested in going to class
- Missing assignments
- Lack of sleep and sleeping in class
- Skipping meals, or eating too much junk while gaming.
- No extracurricular interests, clubs, or sports
- Lack of personal hygiene
- Door room unusually cluttered with junk food, dirty laundry and unorganized clutter
- Back problems, carpel tunnel, migraines.
- Depression, nervous, lying, angry.
© Melanie Hempe, 2016, Families Managing Media. All Rights Reserved.