My brother’s addicted to devices at 13
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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