REAL LIFE

Mum’s agonising story: My teen’s video game addiction left him housebound

Her son has been housebound for two years!

Britta’s active boy has now been housebound for two years.

Here, Britta Hodge, 50, tells the story in her own words.

Running across the backyard, my 13-year-old boy Logan was chasing after a soccer ball.

Suddenly tackled by his two brothers, laughter rang through my ears. Then Logan dusted himself off and joined me in the kitchen.

‘I’ll help you Mum,’ he said, picking up a mixing bowl.

As he cracked the eggs, he happily chatted away. Jolting up in bed, my eyes shot open.

‘Did you have a nightmare?’ my partner Les asked. ‘No… it was just a memory,’ I replied.

The truth is, I haven’t seen Logan playing with his brothers for two years. He hasn’t been to school or left the house either.

video game addiction
Logan loved being outdoors

When Logan was 11 he had a one-off job as a model.

Putting the majority of money he earned into a savings account, I gave him a small amount to buy himself something special. ‘Can I get a PlayStation?’ he asked.

Logan loved playing sports and going to the beach, so we decided it was okay.

At the store, Logan chose a console and a few games. ‘I’ll put it in the cave!’ he beamed, referring to his bedroom.

After that, he played on it at the weekend and a few nights a week after homework.

But a few weeks later, Logan suffered a headache and had a day off school.

Then he started being sick and the school called at least once a month asking me to come and get him.

As time went on, he stopped going to weekend soccer games too, and his friends seemed to disappear.

We went back and forward to doctors, but they couldn’t tell me what was wrong.

Soon Logan refused to leave home at all, spending days in front of his video games.

It’s not like him, I fretted. Knowing there was something more going on, I reached out to a children’s mental health unit.

When Logan was diagnosed with high anxiety, his unexplained illness and sudden refusal to leave our home all made sense. The thought of going to school frightened him and brought on sudden bursts of vomiting.

gaming addiction

The school gave Logan a special card so whenever he was feeling overwhelmed, he was able to have some time outside of the classroom.

For weeks he attended school without a problem. But one afternoon his teacher phoned. ‘Ms Hodge, we’ve lost him,’ she told me. My heart froze with fear.

Then I had an idea where I might find him. Running home, I flung open Logan’s door. There he was sitting in front of his PlayStation. ‘I had an anxiety attack,’ he said. ‘I needed to escape.’I’d been so worried.

Full of emotion, I ripped out the cord to his games.

Rising up, Logan towered over me screaming in my face.

Calmly I walked out of his room, then I sank into the lounge, not knowing how to help him.

‘It’s not him,’ I cried. ‘He’s a loving, caring, beautiful boy.’

He was using video games to escape from the world. ‘Time to hop off the games, buddy,’ I said, determined to decrease his screen time.

Picking up anything he could get his hands on, Logan flew into a rage, smashing things around the house. I just wanted to give my boy a hug, but there was no calming him.

The next day I snuck into his room and hid his console.

When I heard him bellowing down the hall, I knew he’d discovered what I’d done. ‘Logan,’ I told him, ‘you are going to school today.’

Wrapping his arm around my neck he held me in a headlock. ‘I will call the police,’ I said.

mother and son
Me with Logan, before his addiction

Releasing his grip, he screamed as I phoned the local station. ‘My son needs help,’ I sobbed to the officer.

When they arrived, my heart shattered as the police took Logan to the mental health ward at the hospital.

With specialist help, Logan was recognised as having a gaming addiction.

Researching it, I discovered gaming addictions were officially recognised this year and are now treated the same as alcohol, gambling and sex addictions. But many people with this condition go undiagnosed, and help is hard to come by.

So, I started a Facebook page, Online Gaming Addictions, to support others. I’m not giving up. I know who my son is and I will help him fight his addiction.

Logan is 14 now and has barely had any formal education for two years.

As the game soothes his anxiety, I’m reluctant to ban it entirely. We now turn the internet off overnight and Logan needs to ask for the password to play games. He is attending a special school for high anxiety a few hours a day.

Getting him out and about at least once a week, his aggression has almost disappeared.

Since sharing our story in the media, I’ve been vilified by people online, calling me a bad parent and saying I should just send him to school and discipline him.But it’s not that simple, my boy is battling an addiction.

I’ve left my job to become a full-time carer. I know that one day I will see my kids laughing in the backyard again. I’ll keep fighting – not just for Logan but for everyone with this condition.

Read more in this week’s issue of that’s life, on sale now.

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