By the time Al and Christine’s son Josh was 14 years old, he was so consumed with playing video games that he stopped going to school.
“He just said, ‘Hey, I’m dropping out,'” his father Al told ABC News “20/20.”
Josh would stay up late to play well into the night and sleep in late the next day. His mother said he would often play for as many as 12 hours straight, for as much as 60 hours in a week. They tried to talk to him, Al said, but made little progress.
“It’s like, ‘You’ve got to stop … you’ve got to close it down,'” Al said. But he said his son replied, “I can’t.”
Their son’s obsession with online gaming began in 8th grade, Al and Christine said. The turning point was when Josh built himself a gaming computer and installed it in his room, Christine added.
“Playing games is just extremely relaxing to me,” Josh said. “I guess the way I play is like being on drugs because I’m just not even trying, if you understand what I’m saying. I just watch myself play basically.”
Sometimes Al said he would unplug the internet router to prevent Josh from getting online, but that Josh would respond with “emotional outbursts.”
Josh’s lack of sleep and anxiety led to struggles at home and at school.
“I just can’t take the regular schooling anymore,” Josh said. “It’s just not right for me.”
Christine said they tried taking the computer away many times, and Al would even try hiding the computer in his car, but it was difficult. Sometimes, they said, Josh would get so angry he would punch holes in the walls.
“When we did take it away, there was a lot of problems in our house with his behavior,” she said. “We get these reactions that are probably not like the average kid … we see some withdrawal symptoms that are probably not very healthy.”
The family contacted Michigan-based expert Kevin Roberts, who counsels families all over the United States regarding excessive…