TV Addiction – How To Best Help My Son?

Readers Question Readers Question: (Name changed for privacy)
Stanton Peele Response by: Dr. Stanton Peele
Posted on December 14th, 2013 - Last updated: January 30th, 2014
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Hi Dr. Peele,
Season’s greetings from Calgary!

My son is obsessed with TV watching. He is 13 years old. However he is addicted to Cartoons, Laptop games.  He spends up to 12-13 hours in front of TV.

Whenever we tried to convince him.He does not listen to us and even become violent . His daily life is ruined including his diet and even this affecting his classroom study and activities. His school teachers are complaining about the same.
I have already tried to keep him in different activities by registering him in sports center, reading club, volunteering … But he does not buzz….

We are really worried about his future.

Would you please seriously suggest solutions for us? How can we treat this?

Thank you


Dear S,

Thanks for “season’s greetings.”
My answer divides into four parts, like the four seasons.

First: Yes, TV and videos can be addictive — and young people are the biggest “victims.”  Of course, they’re not victims — they’re participants.

Second:  As your attempted solutions suggest, it’s a matter of his fear of — and his failure to become involved in — life. He fears the world outside, doesn’t feel up to friends and other involvements, takes the safe addictive hiding place, where he can feel psychologically safe and protected, but where he actually grows more detached from life.  His alienation is worth reflecting on. Are you and your husband integrated in the community?  Perhaps you can all join the Y, or find some other family activities to engage in, preferably with others.

Third, Part I:  This DOES seem to be a tale of modern family life.  Some would say, “What do you mean, he gets angry and violent? Who (where) are the parents?”  That’s you, S.  You need to gain control of the household.  Throw out your TV (or put it on a timer) — your son needs to realize that he doesn’t support the household.  Without his parents, there IS no TV.  Yes, he may go through withdrawal. But kids are remarkably adjustable to new realities — which is why you can always have hope (see four).

Third, Part II: You need to realize that your son is hurting, at the same time as you pull the plug on him.  That is, Loving Kindness is called for, not accepting his rage as such, but recognizing and responding to its sources.  And he will only change when he finds the rewards from new activities to beat the rewards of privately pleasuring himself with the TV and games.

Fourth:  Your are right to be worried that alienation begets alienation — that the farther your son draws away from life, the greater the pressure for him to remain outside of it.  ON THE OTHER HAND, it’s remarkable how resilient kids (people) are, how most often they right themselves. So the odds are heavily in your favor.  But you are right to regard this as serious and to tackle it this instant!

With regards,

Dr. Stanton Peele

Stanton Peele

Dr. Stanton Peele, recognized as one of the world's leading addiction experts, developed the Life Process Program after decades of research, writing, and treatment about and for people with addictions. Dr. Peele is the author of 14 books. His work has been published in leading professional journals and popular publications around the globe.

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