Life Advice


Health & Spirit

Young video game addict reaches out for help

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy, I am 13 years old and addicted to video games.

I would wake up early in the morning and just play on the weekends until they asked me to stop.

It has gotten to the point where my mom has bought a safe to keep the controllers in. I have gone through her desk desperately and found the key, which I later told her I had taken. Please help!

-- Addicted to Games

Dear Addicted: I shared your question with my friend, the popular comic (and deep thinker) Paula Poundstone, who has dealt with this in her own life. Paula is also author of the wonderful memoir, "The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness," (2017, Algonquin Books).

Here is Paula's response, addressed directly to you:

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I'm so sorry. This is a really difficult problem that you are facing. I want you to know that it is not your fault. You, like so many, have been the victim of adult greed.

The companies that make those games hire behavioral psychologists to purposely help them make the games addictive. They have designed the games so that your brain gets hits of a feel-good chemical called dopamine when you play them. A brain overstimulated by video games looks the same as a brain on cocaine.

So, it is not your fault. Unfortunately, it is, however, your problem.

The truth is, there is no good reason to play video games, when you consider that doing so can alter the white matter in your brain. That would also be called "brain damage." If you found out that playing Monopoly could give you brain damage, do you think you'd want to ever play Monopoly again in your life?


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