Are You Protecting Your Child from Video Game Addiction?

Playstation Nation

“If you have a child who plays video games (or may in the future play video games), shut the cover of this book now, march up to the check-out counter at this moment, and purchase it. Immediately. Period.” – from Playstation Nation by Olivia and Kurt Bruner

Not too many authors start out commanding you to buy their book, but after having read the first few pages of Playstation Nation, I understood why Olivia and Kurt Bruner so adamantly insist that parents read their story.

In fact, I am one of the parents they are writing to — one of the people they believe must read their book. I am the parent they desperately want to reach before it is too late.

My son Jackson is almost five and, of course, he wants to play video games. I have a hazy feeling that I shouldn’t let him but we haven’t made any concrete decisions. Part of me feels like it is useless to fight against it – video games are everywhere. He has already played them at friends’ houses. At home he has played educational computer games… and some not so educational ones. But I haven’t given in and bought him a system.

Before reading Playstation Nation, I knew I didn’t want Jackson to waste any of his precious youth playing video games. However, I needed this book to show me the damage video games are doing to this generation and to give me the determination to fight the upcoming battles to keep video games in check in my son’s life.

Olive and Kurt don’t say that video games are from the devil and that we should throw them all in the garbage. Instead they walk us through a thorough look at the scientific facts of video game addiction and give us an inside look at many young people’s personal stories of addiction so we can make the best decision for our families.

Their book is the definition of eye opening. I had never realized the insidious danger that sits in so many family rooms and bedrooms across North America. Video games are a serious threat to our children’s well being, masked in the form of play. And busy parents everywhere are fooled into thinking that they are as harmless as the TV and just a part of life for children in this new millennium.

I was one of those parents. I am not anymore.

Through story after story and study and study, Playstation Nation will show you how video games are addictive and it will help you decide for yourself how your family should deal with the video game phenomena.

Here is a quick excerpt that discusses the physiological effects of video games…

“In 1998 a report titled ‘Evidence for Straital Dopamine Release during a Video Game’ published in the journal Nature describes a process called positron-emission tomography (PET). A team of British researchers found that video game playing actually changes the chemistry in the brain by increasing the activity of dopamine. Dopamine is the most important neurotransmitters in the brain, controlling movement, attention, and learning.

…Researchers at Hammersmith Hospital, a clinical research hospital in London, described the infusion of dopamine as being ‘similar to that observed following intravenous injection of amphetamine or methylphenidate.’

…To put it in layman’s terms, kids who play video games submit their developing brains to a pleasurable chemical reaction similar to an amphetamine drug injection! And the more often they play, the more likely they are to become hooked on the feeling.”

But if removing game systems from your child’s life sounds a little extreme (and I must stress, that is not what the Bruners are advising all parents to do), listen to what this young man, a successful former homeschooler who is currently in law school and still struggling daily with his video addiction, had to say when asked what he thought a mother should do if she has a child who wants to play video games all the time:

“Get rid of it, completely, entirely. I wish my mom had done that. Even if you limit the actual playing time, you’re not going to eliminate the kids thinking about it as long as it’s in the house. Even though I wasn’t allowed to play for a month, it was still all I thought about.”

Are your boys in college? If you think your children are too old to worry about video game addiction, Olivia and Kurt have some concerning facts for you too!

Through their book, I learned that college dorms are becoming dungeons of addiction, with young men trading in their education – and their parents’ money – for endless hours of mind numbing video gaming. If you have a young man at college I suggest you read this book and then send it to your child when you are done.

You can help protect your children from wasting these precious years. You can help them reclaim their time and turn off the video games.

I am so grateful that I read Playstation Nation. I strongly recommend it. I now feel empowered to make the decisions and to fight the inevitable battles in our future to keep my son from video game addiction.


  1. says

    What a great review of the book. I hope to get my hands on it. I definately know a few that suffer from video game addiction. Our kids have not started into the gaming life, less the dentist office and a visit to one of our friends. And I think I may need to read this one before we make a decision for our gaming future. We do have the original now “ancient” Nitendo system. I thikn I may be just fine sticking with this, even if it means beating the top and blowing out cartridges.

  2. says

    Thanks for your review. I think I need to read this one! I don’t have kids old enough for it, but oh did I see this problem when I was teaching in the Bronx. It was so sad that they could quote or discuss anything from a video game, but couldn’t understand their textbook to save their lives.

  3. says

    My 4 year old loves to play educational games on the computer too. I know that when she gets into other games I’ll be watching the time she (and my son when he’s old enough) spend on it.

    Frankly, I can’t see spending all that money on gaming systems anyhow. There are enough video games for the computer without adding more clutter to the house. Same issues, I’m sure though.

  4. says

    I’ll have to remember this in a few years when my little one might try to do the whole video game thing (although like momteacherfriend we only have an ancient Super NES)

  5. says

    My boys haven’t played any kind of video game yet – including computers. I just don’t see why they should start- they love playing with toys, books, each other… I have held off with this longer than my friends, but I am happy with my choice! I had friends in college that were clearly addicted like this book suggests.

  6. says

    When I have children I probably will hold off having my children play video games. I see what it does to the children in my class. Some don’t seem to have imaginations unless it pertains to something they have seen on their game. It is sad really!

  7. says

    I agree that video games should me kept to a minimum, i do however think that if a parent acts responsible enough and limits time and content, and talk to the child about it, there is hope that they wont develop an addiction. We have vsmile, my daughter loves it, its helping her learn the alphabet, and teaching her hand, eye coordination. Now she only plays once a week for 30 minutes, and only has two games, i will not spend a fortune for these things..i would rather buy her a book. Its kind of like if you are on a diet, every now and then you have to eat that candy bar, so you dont completely blow your diet out of the water. Just need to use common sense.

  8. says

    Janice, this is so interesting. I have to take the skeptic’s point of view, not having read it. In general if someone has an agenda, or has had a honestly bad experience with something, everything is colored in a bad light regarding that thing. It does seem to be more of an issue for boys than girls. My daughter has enjoyed playing them some, and does enjoy games on the computer, but enjoys books and TV more than either of those. We bought her a video game system 3 months ago for her 8th birthday, and she plays it very moderately. However, I have resisted buying a handheld game system, because she chooses to read on long car rides, waiting at doctor’s office etc, and I choose not to give her that other option.

    I have a son (and his grandmother is buying him the Vsmile “learning computer game,”), so it will definitely be something that I keep an eye on.

    Thanks for your opinion and the information about this book.

  9. says

    Wow, scary! My kiddies have a scooby-doo game but are a bit young to play properly. I would certainly keep playing to a minimum – Daddy on the other hand would definitely be an addict if he had more time, lol.

  10. says

    Thanks for the review. I will definitely be looking into this book. My oldest is 4 and I’ve been thinking about videos game lately. He loves to play on the computer, but I don’t want games/the computer to become his only and favorite past time.

  11. unknownone says

    I don’t believe some of the facts in this book, for one, if your child is 5, what are you doing buying him/her videogames, get the kid a football and go play with them, but if your kid is 14 or above, i think so long they are a good student and they stay on top of their work, i don’t see what the problem is, i would know, i’m an all A+ Ap student in my school, and i play video games alot, i still go outside and run around and hang out with friends, but saying that by playing video games is the same as drugs? in my view i would rather having my kid play video game then do drugs, but thats just me.

  12. Jason says

    Hello My name is jason i like to make games as its my career choice for the future and id like to read this book it is intresting and no doubt there are some serious addicts out there like world of warcraft and i do play games alot im 23 i work , i earn my money , i pay my board since i cant get into a house due to my disability not letting me get paid enough and i play games alot and i have freinds , i go out to the movies and all that stuff and for me i love my games and i am a heavy user but the thing is i know what is real and wat is not and i dont need to play the damm thing so all im trying to say is moderation is the key here just dont let them get to into it like there ment to be immersed into the world but not into the snowball effects it has and i belive all it comes down to is responsibility if he/she is playing to long tell them i think ur playing to much and turn it off remove the console / pc if it gets to bad its just some ppl are more subsceptable to addiction

    anyway this is just my comment and i look forward to reading this book and its views

  13. anonomous says

    I am 17 yrs old and i play video games on a regular basis. Video game addiction has never been a problem for me although i greatly enjoy playing them. The only thing i want to comment on is these parents that only let their kids play vidoe games for 30min-1hr each week. I dont understand why they are so afraid of their children becoming addicted that they limit video game use so drastrically. I can understand a limit of 1hr each day but that much each week is ridiculous.

  14. says

    *Sigh* Video Games will not do anything to your child. But if you think they’re stupid enough to get addicted, then take away one of the best objects of entertainment in today’s world. Let them play with toys, which most will never provide as much fun as a game. Let them stay off computers, and not ever have the chance to take an interest in them (computers), which are today and the future’s technology. Well, actually, maybe not the future’s technology, because people are stupid enough to think that they’re harmful, so their child never takes an interest in them.

    Do not be stupid enough to get rid of the games in your house, they will NOT do anything, at all. Don’t not give your child a chance to want to learn more about modern technology starting with games, or just a chance to have harmless fun. Video Games will not do anything to you. As a gamer, this is highly disappointing to me that people still think this.

  15. Rishard says

    This is a response to comment number nine. First of all, I am 13 and my parents have no restrictions on games. They know I’m smart enough to know how long to play. I get straight A’s in school and if you think I have no imagination, then you’re sadly mistaken. I have written twelve short stories in the course of two and a half years, and all have been printed in the newspapers. Of those stories, eight have won first place in competitions and one has came second. I have also made a twenty two page comic book in color and that was posted as a three part in a magazine. I am an avid video game player. They do nothing to you but improve you. Maybe in your class the people was just high or retarded.

  16. Anon says

    I am a gamer and a student who has been studying gaming addiction.

    Single player games that you give your child when he/she is as young as 5 will not lead to gaming addiction. Yes, you should limit the amount of time a child that young plays games, not because the child will get addicted, but because a child that age should be doing many more things and learning about the world around him.

    Gaming addiction is not a problem until a child reaches his teens, around 13-21 when the child starts to play multiplayer games online or begins to use the internet more. The reason for this is that addiction to gaming is due to social reasons, not technological reasons. There is no game that is good enough to addict a player for years and years. Gamers who do get addicted to these games are addicted because they do not feel they are able to communicate with their family or friends or are just not happy with themselves.
    Gamers who play every night with friends that the he knows is not addicted to gaming, but is simply socialising with his friends who he also sees often.
    Problem gamers are those that do not have friends and only socialise with strangers online. They do this because that is the only place where he will feel accepted. As a parent you should be preventing this by ensuring your child is raised properly, giving your child the proper attention and also the proper freedom he needs. Force your child to get a job. Initially there will be arguments and there will be fights, but if you force your child to be independant and understand the need to work, the need to socialise and the need for a life early on(say 16-18ish) then they child will understand and will not feel their life is meaningless.

    Based on your review of this book, I find that this book is typically saying “look at all these peoples experiences, games are bad because these people prove it” without properly understanding the child or the reasons for their gaming addictions.

    Video games are not bad. Multiplayer video games, the typical source of gaming addiction is also not bad. Most of the players who play these games use it to socialise and it is becoming more and more important to have these connections. If your child is as young as 5, then it is okay to play video games and watch TV. But it is also important that while they play you educate them about the content of the video games. Play the games with them. Buy a simple disney game and play through the levels with them. When they start playing games by themselves, get them to save up their pocket money and buy the game themselves. Balance the amount of time they play with the amount of time they study. These things at an early age will allow them to enjoy video games in a healthy way.

  17. says

    Thanks for the review! A few points come to mind:

    1) Like almost any activity that can be found pleasurable (drinking, smoking, gambling, exercise, sex, etc.) there does seem to be the potential for *some* people (kids included) to become addicted to video games. However, millions and millions of people are able to keep their video game play within healthy limits. Not everyone who drinks becomes an alcoholic, but unfortunately some do. The same rule applies to video games – not everyone becomes addicted, but clearly there are those who play *far* too much. I have seen gamers who play more than 40 hours per week and this is clearly in the “unhealthy” zone.

    2) Although the term “video game addiction” is the most common way to describe excessive gaming habits, not all games are created equal with regard to their addictive qualities. Most studies show that MMOs (like World of Warcraft) are far more addictive than offline, single-player games, with predefined endpoints (unlike that majority of MMOs). Therefore, video game addiction may be too broad of a term given the vast differences between game genres. Different types of games definitely come with different levels of risk for addiction.

    3) For parents with children who may be addicted to video games, I would advise against waiting “until he grows out of it”. Take action and take control as soon as you start to notice some of the signs of addiction (especially a drop in grades, regularly staying up very late to play, and decreased interest in other activities he/she once enjoyed). The longer you wait, the harder it will be to regain control.

    Another book for parents on how to help children addicted to video games:

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  1. Playstation Nation…

    Janice at 5 Minutes for Mom has a post that every parent should read, especially since we’re entering the Christmas shopping season and the Playstation III is hitting the store shelves. In her post, Janice discusses the book Playstation Nation…

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