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My son is almost 15 years old and my only child. Her father and I separated a few years ago and they see each other regularly. My son also has a good relationship with my partner, who has been living with us for years a few years. He has always excelled in school and is a talented musician. When I was younger I was confident and eloquent beyond his years; he could make friends or talk to anyone.

I have seen huge changes in him. Before Covid, he played in a couple of groups at school and had he befriended some older children through school productions. With confinement, these friendships merged and even in school has been unable to mix with different age groups.

On the first lock, my son retired to an online gaming world and has not appeared. I am now worried about him having a gambling addiction: on summer vacation, barely out of his room, apart from food. It has virtually constant communication with other online players, but I think they are not meaningful relationships.

I try to talk to him most days about how I could prove it to re-establish connections and friendships but it usually is despicable of my advice. He has remained committed to his studies and had excellent end-of-course grades, but el the summer holidays have focused on focus his social problems and dependence on online games.

I understand your concerns. Your longest letter painted the image of a popular and brilliant boy who seems to have suffered a rift with his friendship groups and who sought solace in the games, which must seem very strange to you. Your child, like many people, gets along better in a mixed age group. You may have always had a hard time staying “alone” with your peers. Lockdown – and Covid bubbles – highlighted it.

Let’s look at the positives. I consulted psychotherapist Rebecca Harris (psychotherapy.org.uk), who specializes in gambling addiction. He pointed out that your child is still going to school, is doing well and goes down to eat, all of which is a good sign. I realize that gambling or anything that involves an online life is terrifying for many parents. But for many people it also has advantages.

“What we tell the people at the clinic to be careful about,” says Harris, “are signs that games have become problematic: someone is not able to stop or control them; they consider the game to be more important than anything else, keep playing despite the negative consequences. ”Your child does not appear to be at this stage.

“Your child is still dedicated to their studies, so they are still in the real world and can still focus on things other than games. It seems like your child is fine, then he passed a block and played a lot of games, which is not uncommon. But then he went back to school and the friendships didn’t come back. I wonder if this has more to do with his friends.

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In other words, maybe the game is filling a gap that was already there. Harris wondered if it was helpful to ask yourself almost daily what he does about their friendships. “I wonder if that underscores the fact that no one is calling him or [it seems] do you want to see it, and if that reinforces the anxiety of both of you? ”This could lead him more to seek security in his gaming world. Is there another adult who can gently check what’s going on with their child? Your father, your partner or someone else?

If you are still concerned, please contact the National Center for Gambling Disorders (email: ncba.cnwl@nhs.net), which can be referred to anyone over the age of 12 in England and Wales. . Here are two useful websites: parentzone.org.uk to help you navigate the online world; and taminggaming.com, which contains information about the games.

Each week, Annalisa Barbieri deals with a family-related problem submitted by a reader. If you want advice from Annalisa on a family topic, send your problem to ask.annalisa@theguardian.com. Annalisa regrets not being able to enter into personal correspondence. Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions: see gu.com/letters-terms.

Conversations with Annalisa Barbieri, a new podcast series, is available here.

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Source: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2021/sep/24/is-my-son-14-a-gaming-addict-he-spends-all-his-time-online-in-his-room


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