Our teen son is failing in school and losing his friends. Homework time quickly turns into Minecraft time despite our best efforts. He can and will use a phone, game console, or computer to access the game when we try to set limits. We’ve tried tutors, counselors, punishments, and nothing works. He is obsessed with Minecraft. What do we do?
This is a particularly difficult situation because it sounds as if your teenager could be displaying signs of obsessive or addictive behavior. In these circumstances, I suggest contacting a therapist who has some expertise in addictions, preferably in the new DSM-V diagnostic category of Internet Gaming Disorder.
It is true that much of high schoolers’ school work requires a computer and Internet access. I strongly suggest that you place his computer in a public area temporarily, even though this may reduce his focus and concentration. He will need to obtain his privacy rights through improving his grades and reducing his inappropriate behavior. Sometimes parents need to be totally in control of Internet access, keeping the router in their room and setting strict limits (via the provider so your son cannot change it) on cell phone capabilities. Setting limits on Minecraft are difficult, but not impossible.
I would not give up on your efforts to get him involved in other engaging activities beyond the computer. Consider what is developmentally appropriate and try to get him involved in these activities. If you are able to get him doing something with his peers he may begin to acquire a greater variety of interests and gain back his social life.
One strategy with an older teen would be to encourage or require him to get some type of job. He could earn money to buy technology, but working outside of the house would also provide him with another activity and engagement with new peers and help him to become responsive to someone else’s expectations beyond those of his parents.
One last thought: Some kids need to make the same mistakes three or four times before learning what to do. Restricting access so he can earn it back may eventually work. If you go this route again, try and engage your son in a reflective discussion about what is happening and what will make everyone happy.
This kind of information and lots more in our Minecraft Learning and Limits ebook. Become a member and get it for free.
This Q&A was also published on ADDitude.
Featured image: Flickr user Mike Prosser