My brother’s ad­dicted to de­vices at 13

South Taranaki Star - - FRONT PAGE -

Q: I’m writ­ing about my brother. He’s 13 and in year 9. He’s se­ri­ously ad­dicted to de­vices. He’ll play games all day and this makes my dad and my grand­par­ents an­gry. My brother won’t do any­thing when he’s not on his de­vice ex­cept lie on the couch.

My brother has a bad his­tory with de­vices. He sneaks on to com­put­ers every chance he gets. Late at night and when­ever he was al­lowed, he’d be gam­ing. He plays on phones and when one is con­fis­cated he gets hold of another.

He’s now got a lap­top and we all be­lieve it’s mak­ing him dumb. My brother gets an­gry when his com­puter is taken away from him. He’s al­ready not do­ing well at school and he’s lazy. Do you have any ideas?

A: I’ve taken out your names and short­ened this let­ter to make it con­fi­den­tial. You sound like a pretty cool sis­ter and I can see you’re re­ally wor­ried about your brother.

I agree with you that he does show some clas­sic signs of be­ing ad­dicted: an­gry when screens are taken away; sneak­ing back on; grab­bing at any­one’s de­vices; let­ting his school­work slip; un­in­ter­ested in any other ac­tiv­i­ties; fo­cused solely on get­ting back to his gam­ing.

The worry of this, plus the stress of your dad and grand­par­ents get­ting an­gry at him must be mak­ing your life pretty tough at the mo­ment.

Your dad, and es­pe­cially your grand­par­ents, will be be­wil­dered by this sit­u­a­tion. Hav­ing ac­cess to on­line gam­ing every day, all day, wasn’t an op­tion for a 13-year-old even 10 years ago.

They prob­a­bly think he can stop and that he’s just be­ing naughty.

You’re ac­tu­ally go­ing to need some out­side help – some ex­pert help – to help your brother. Even though it’s your brother who is ad­dicted, it will be a fam­ily, or whole house, so­lu­tion.

There are a lot of de­vices in the place you live and as you ex­plained, your brother is seiz­ing what­ever he can.

I think you need to talk to your fa­ther and grand­par­ents. Show them your let­ter and ask them to start tak­ing steps to re­solve this.

It sounds as if they’ll need help from a psy­chol­o­gist or coun­sel­lor and the best place to start get­ting the help is to go to your fam­ily GP or your brother’s school coun­sel­lor.

Maybe the school is al­ready aware that your brother has a prob­lem. You need to talk to some­one who will lis­ten and take you se­ri­ously.

In the mean­time, as a fam­ily you could start to mon­i­tor your own screen times. Do you have phones at the ta­ble? Some­times, grand­par­ents and par­ents can be the worst of­fend­ers for de­vices.

Make a list of all the phones, iPads and com­put­ers in your house and ac­count for them every night. Could one per­son be re­spon­si­ble for putting them all away at a cer­tain time?

Good luck with all this, you sound as if you could use a break.

❚ Mary-anne Scott has raised four boys and writ­ten three nov­els for young adults, in­clud­ing which was re­leased in March 2018. (One Tree House). As one of seven sis­ters, there aren’t many par­ent­ing prob­lems she hasn’t talked over. To send her a ques­tion email with Dear Mary-anne in the sub­ject line. Your anonymity is as­sured.

My 13-year-old brother plays on his phone. When he loses one phone, he gets another. When he’s not play­ing games he just lies on the couch. 123RF

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