Friday, November 30, 2012
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1) Can video gaming really become an addiction? (pp.6-10)
2) Why are video games addictive? (pp.10-11)
3) Are all games equally addictive?(pp.11-14)
4) Am I really a video game addict? (pp.14-24)
5) How much time do I really spend gaming? (PP.24-32)
6) Am I alone? What type of teen is most likely to become addicted to gaming? (pp.32-33)
Why am I addicted to gaming?(pp.34-43)
Overcoming video game addiction by learning The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People (pp.61-89)
10) You have the power to change your brain! (pp.90-93)
11) Video gamers and dating. (pp.93-96)
12) Watch out for cyber porn!(pp.96-106)
13) Moderation versus “getting unplugged.” (pp.107-110)
14) Conclusion: putting it all together! (pp.110-114)
Let me begin by saying that I am 53 years old and therefore did not grow up playing video games. And, truth be told, I have never developed an interest in gaming. However, I have two sons who both play video games – from Mario Kart to Lego Harry Potter to Grand Theft Auto to Call of Duty. Both of my sons have had various handheld systems -- such as the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP. We have a PlayStation and a WII in our home. We own three laptops, one desktop computer, two iPads that are loaded with game apps, and three iPhones -- also loaded with game apps.
So, I am certainly not a parent who disapproves of video gaming or the use of technology for entertainment. I am also aware there are millions of children, teens, and adults across the globe who love video gaming and who do not experience any problems related to gaming.
The vast majority of children and teens who play video games are able to complete their school work on time, read for pleasure, have hobbies and interests other than gaming, engage in physical exercise, go to parties, go to the movies, date, and most importantly, have clearly defined life goals (such as attending college or achieving a certain type of career).
Unfortunately, there is a rather sizable group of children and teens, perhaps as many as 10%, who struggle to control their gaming behavior. This workbook is written for teens that have lost control of their lives as a result of video gaming.
This workbook is written for teens who are experiencing serious negative consequences related to gaming: school /academic achievement problems, loss of interest in hobbies, neglecting peer and family relationships, neglecting personal hygiene, loo of sleep, constant craving for games, physical problems such as weight gain, conflict with parents when ANY limit is set on gaming, and the need to constantly increase the amount of time spent gaming.
I am a mental health professional and a professor at the University Of Southern California School Of Social Work and have spent the past 25 years of my life working with children and teens. Over the last five years, I have seen a dramatic change in the way that children and teens use gaming, and technology generally, to experience pleasure.
I have seen a disturbing trend, especially amongst teen boys, in which gaming has become not only the focus of their daily life, but also the purpose of their lives. I have seen firsthand how difficult it is for parents to set limits with teens who are gaming multiple hours per day. I have also seen how difficult it is for teens to change their gaming habits -- even when they are fully aware of the negative consequences of gaming.
Over the past four years multiple books have been written on the subject of gaming. In these books the term “addiction” has been applied to children, teens, and adults who have a relationship with video gaming that is similar, if not identical, to the relationship people have with drugs and alcohol. This workbook will help you understand video game addiction and give you the tools needed to overcome gaming addiction.
How to use this workbook:
This workbook is intended to be used ONLY with the guidance of a licensed mental health professional with expertise in the area of video game addiction and technology addiction (surfing the Internet, social media sites, YouTube, eBay, e-mail, etc.). This workbook is intended to be used during individual, family, and group therapy. Working within a group format has been proven to be extremely effective for dealing with substance (cocaine, alcohol, marijuana) and behavioral addictions (gambling and shopping).
By using this workbook within a group format, you will be able to share your experience with video gaming with peers who understand your relationships to gaming. Also, by being in a group with peers who are having difficulty controlling their gaming, you will be able to receive constructive feedback about your efforts to change your behavior -- as well as emotional and social support that will make changing your behavior more successful.
You will meet one time per week in a teen group for 1.5 hours. Typically your group will cover one chapter of this workbook per meeting. The average time spent completing this workbook is 16 weeks. You will also meet twice per month on an individual basis with the therapist running your group and participate in family therapy sessions twice per month.
Your parents will be provided with a similar workbook and they will meet on a weekly basis for 1.5 hours with a group of parents. It is expected that your parents will complete one chapter per group session and will participate in family therapy sessions.
The journey you are about to start with your family will be challenging – and there will be times when you will want to quit and get back to gaming full time. There will be times when you will say that you have never had a problem gaming – and that the only problem you have is your parents telling you to change.
This workbook was not written to convince you that you have a problem – but rather to help you understand that your relationship to gaming may be interfering with your own goals. The choice to change will ultimately be yours: this workbook will provide you with the knowledge and skills to make changes should you decide that you want something more from your life than gaming can offer.
As would follow, this workbook was written with the intention of helping you understand your relationship to video gaming -- without offering judgment, criticism, or blame. This workbook was written to help avoid arguments about video gaming. I have found that arguing about the good and the bad of gaming will not move you or your family in a positive direction.
Finally, this workbook was written with the belief that every teen has the ability to make changes in their relationship to video gaming. The process of making change may be difficult, but you have the power to change, expand, and improve your life!
I completed a "Teen Video Game Addiction Workbook" -- I am waiting for a paperback product I created using LuLu.com (self publishing). I will have 20 copies next week. If your are interested you can purchase a copy for $12.00 and I will ship it to you. Alternatively, I have PDF copies ready to go now for $5.00. You can read the PDF on your computer or print a copy (114 pages). You can view excepts on this blog to get a clear idea about the content of the workbook.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
By Christopher Mulligan LCSW
How much porn is there?
According to Wendy and Larry Maltz, co-authors of The Porn Trap: The Essential Guide To Overcoming Problems Caused by Pornography, there are more than 400 million pages of pornography on the Internet. According to Dr. Patrick Carnes, one of the world's leading experts in the area of online sexual behavior, commercial pornography websites, magazines, books, DVDs, and cable television generate almost $320 billion annually worldwide. To put this in some perspective, in the United States alone, pornography revenues are larger than all the combined revenues from professional football, baseball, and basketball.
Dr. Carnes also reports that an estimated 72 million individuals visit pornography websites each year. Approximately twenty five percent of all search engine requests are pornography related. Ten percent of adult Internet users believe they are “cybersex” (online) addicts. Twenty percent of adults in the USA report having intentionally visited pornographic websites. Did you know that thirty percent of visitors to adult pornography sites are women?
The average age of first exposure to online pornography is 11 years old and seventy percent of teenagers report they have seen pornographic images online.
Does cyber porn come with instructions?
With dozens of search engines you can surf for an endless variety of sexual activities and sexual images. One word can bring up 250,000 different “hits” that contain pornographic photographs, videos, chat rooms, live WebCams, and advertisements for sexual products. Some of these websites display images of nude or nearly nude adults engaging in sexual activity. Some of these websites display sexual activity that includes animals, children, violence, and other sexual behavior that is frightening and confusing. One of the dangers of cyber porn is you really cannot control what type of image or video will “pop up.”
So, despite the amazing growth in Internet pornography, and the growth in technologies that make Internet pornography very accessible to all (such as laptops and mobile devices), Internet porn does not come with a set of instructions, a list of ingredients, or any type of warning about it’s possible danger.
So, why doesn’t cyber porn come with guidelines? Well, the porn industry doesn’t want guidelines or regulations, because they want to sell porn to anyone who can pay for their product – including teens. The porn industry wants as many customers as is possible, and there is really no better target audience than teens – as they can develop a life-long attachment to porn use.
Why doesn’t “sex ed” programs talk about cyber porn and cyber sex?
The fact is adults have not focused on the potential dangers of cyber porn in “sex ed” programs because of the attention given to cyber bullying and cyber predators. Certainly, the most common and high profile fears related to Internet use include online “harassment” or cyber bullying and exposure to adult “cyber predators” (child molesters). Despite the high profile nature of sexual predators, including television shows focusing on predatory adults, research studies from Harvard do not show an increase in overall predatory behavior as a result of the increase in internet use by young people.
The popular picture of a predator as an older male who preys on children is not supported by scientific findings. Most sexual solicitation of children and teens is by other minors and young adults. According to the Harvard researchers most Internet sex crimes against minors actually involve young adults and minors who mistakenly believe they are able to consent to sex with an adult.
According to the Harvard researchers, reported cases of Internet initiated sex crimes involving adult strangers are much less common than crimes initiated by family or other familiar adults. What is surprising, but supported by research, is only a small percentage of youth are deceived by adult offenders lying about their age. In fact, cyber stalking by adult offenders appears to be quite rare. This does NOT mean you should talk to strangers online or EVER arrange a meeting with a stranger from cyberspace.
As for “sex ed” programs, it appears that the availability and quantity of cyber porn has gotten way out in front of educators, schools, and parents in terms of developing an open, honest and informed discussion about the possible benefits and dangers of cyber porn. Adults simply haven’t figured out how to approach the topic of cyber porn – so teens are figuring it out on their own!
Given this the absence of clear and reliable information for teens about cyber porn, I have put together this manual.
Is any amount of cyber porn healthy?
Let’s start with the most basic question: what amount and what type of pornography is appropriate or safe? Is all pornography unhealthy? Are there websites that are educational and provide good information while using sexually graphic images?
Certainly not all online sexual activity has a negative impact on teens or adults. A recent study estimated nearly eighty percent of those who engage in online sexual activity should be considered "recreational users" and do not report any problems related to their online behavior. Both youth and adults report using the Internet to research sexual information on issues such as preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, purchasing and reviewing options for contraception, and exploring sexuality. Cyberspace allows teens and adults to explore sexual fantasies, explore sexual preferences, and learn about different forms of sexual expression in a safe and secure home environment.
However, for the approximate 20% of individuals who struggle with online sexual behavior, the consequences can be devastating and long-lasting. As I will discuss in greater detail, some people become compulsive in collecting and viewing pornography, others cross legal boundaries, while others find themselves spending 10+ hours each day online in search of sex or romance.
So, to my way of thinking, although cyber porn may be fun and exciting for some teens (and adults) and pose no emotional or physical health risks, the down side far outweighs the up side. After having worked with teens and adults with cyber porn problems, I think the risk is too great and therefore the best approach to cyber porn is to take a pass. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard teens and adults say: “I just wish someone had told me how easy it is to get out of control with cyber porn.”
My position is not about whether cyber porn is good or bad or right or wrong from a moral perspective or a religious perspective. Simply put, I think porn has the great potential damage your emotional, sexual, physical and social well-being. I am certain no one will ever regret NOT using porn – they will only regret being exposed to and using porn and losing control of their lives.