Teen's only interest is TV, internet and video games

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Melissa Godfrey, CPC, LMHP, psychotherapist with the Alegent Health Center for Mental Health

Melissa Godfrey, CPC, LMHP, psychotherapist with Alegent Health Psychiatric Associates

Find out more about Melissa Godfrey, CPC, LMHP

Q:    Why is it that a child would lose total interest in school? He has totally embraced TV and the Internet. Video games and the chat rooms are on his mind always. School has taken a total back seat and there seems to be no motivating factor to restart him. Who do we see? Can you help?

A:   I agree with you, motivators are one of the keys. All of us do better at things we want to do and can do well. Some children are even more difficult to motivate than others.

I don't know the age of your child, so here are a few generic suggestions. Make sure that TV and Internet are time limited. Too many hours of video games keep a person in a fantasy world, and if the games are really on his mind that much, it sounds like this has become his main focus.

You can designate that certain other tasks be done first and perhaps let him choose when those times are. You can do this calmly, not as punishment, but as a way to help him achieve more balance in his routine. Even if other tasks are done, I don't think I would go over one or two hours of TV and Internet on a school day.

If possible, keep the video problem and homework problem separate. In other words, even without video games and TV, would he still be having school problems?  Check with teachers to find out what they notice.  After all, they see our kids more hours a day than a parent.

Find out if he seems depressed or distant. Sometimes a tutor or further evaluation is needed. If you don't see a change after trying some of these things, I recommend setting up an appointment with a mental health therapist in your community.

For more information, call 402-717-HOPE (4673).