Most parents of teenage boys probably worry about their sons spending too much time on the internet. But instead of social media, it’s an online game they’re poring over for the whole day. Some boys lock themselves in their rooms, barely coming out even to eat. And if their parents call them out, they’ll act defensive and isolate themselves further.
Though online and video games have some benefits, people can be seriously addicted to them, and the effects won’t be so far from that of drug addiction. When their excessive gaming leads to dissociation and escape from their stressors, interpersonal problems, and mental health issues such as social anxiety and depression, then it’s no longer just a pastime, but a detrimental activity.
Gaming disorder shouldn’t be underestimated or justified. When neglected, it creates serious problems and triggers isolation, low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. Hence, even when your teen grumbles or throws a fit each time you try to stop them from playing, don’t give in. Instead, constantly show them that you are available and that you’d love to spend more time with them.
But how will you do that if they are refusing to come out of their rooms in the first place? Introducing them to outdoor activities might help. Here’s how:
1. Search for Outdoor Activities They Can Enjoy Nearby
Start small by introducing them to an outdoor activity that they can enjoy around your area. This will keep them from missing their gaming consoles too much, as opposed to traveling far which might cause some withdrawal symptoms.
According to a survey, teens will be happier to organize an outdoor activity when there are facilities close by. Your teen may not immediately go that far, but sparking their interest is already significant progress.
2. Find Them a New Hobby
If there aren’t any recreational facilities near your home, go more subtle and begin by asking for their help on a certain activity. For example, if you need to repair something in your house, call them for help. Let them watch you do some DIY crafts like woodworking, or building a sort of machine from scratch. When they see the amazing things they can do without gaming, they may gain a new, unplugged hobby.
3. Give Them a Choice
Forcing your teen or punishing them for not engaging in a specific outdoor activity will never help. It will only push them to isolate themselves further and play more online games. Besides, no teen wants to be restricted or told what to do. They may appear stubborn and rude, but it’s simply their nature.
Therefore, instead of being authoritative, ask them what they’d like to do. If they can’t think of anything because online games are all they know, make a trip as a family, and consider fun and exhilarating activities, like skiing. Spark their interest in the sport by taking them shopping for gears, letting them try on some high-quality Giro Mips ski helmets, and choosing the style and color of the other gears they’ll need. That way, you’re making them feel involved, not just dragged into the sport against their will.
4. Try Arts
Being close to nature may also cultivate an interest in arts. If your teen is talented at drawing, sketching, painting, or at any other artistic activity, expose them in environments where their talent will naturally grow. You can take them to a museum, art gallery, musicals, or local festivals. Chances are their online gaming addiction has just overshadowed their talents, and artistic trips will help bring them to the surface again.
5. Introduce Them to Affordable Activities
If their excessive online gaming has been exhausting their allowance and your electric bill budget, redirect their attention to affordable activities. Teens themselves stated that affordable activities will encourage them to be more active. Therefore, find them a sport or a recreational adventure that won’t require coaching. Bowling, for instance, can be played by teens freely, and so is basketball. Interactive games like Escape the Room, Scavenger Hunt, and Laser Tag are also fun and cheap sport alternatives.
6. Encourage Them to Join Clubs
Before online gaming completely thwarts their ability to socialize, encourage them to participate in after-school clubs or community organizations. If they can make friends within their online gaming community, they will definitely form friendships outside their bubbles too.
The key is to help them find their niche. If they’re into music, they may be interested to join a band or an orchestra. Or if they like K-pop, they’d certainly love to meet other people from their fandom. Pay attention to your teen’s interests and make an effort to be involved with them too, so that they’d feel comfortable enough to trust your decisions for them.
Online gaming addiction is very real, so don’t take it for granted when your sons are still doing fine. Chances are they are already crossing a thin line, so save them while it’s still easy to do so.