Translator: Géraldine GéraldineReviewer: Queenie Lee For over ten years, I was addicted to playing video games.
This addiction affectedmany areas of my life, including being a majorinfluence in my decision to drop out of high schoolat the age of 15.
Eventually, my parents got on my caseto get a job, so I got one.
I say “got” because I pretendedto have a job for months.
Every morning at 7 a.
, my dad would drop me off at the restaurant where I was a prep cook.
After he drove off, I'd walk across the streetand catch the bus back home, sneaking in through my windowand going to sleep.
I'd been up all night playing video games.
The truth is I didn't wantto do these things – I just did.
The addiction controlled the behavior.
Three years ago, I decided to make a change.
I just moved back home to Calgary, Canada, from living on Vancouver Island, and I couldn't get over this feelingof immense disappointment in myself.
I moved to Vancouver Islandinspired to take on new challenges, only to be left playing video games16 hours a day for five months straight.
I felt like a failure, and unfortunately, this was a feeling I knew too well.
So I did what anybody would do: I Googled it! And the answers I found – (Laughter) (Applause) and the answers I foundwere incredibly frustrating.
There were suggestionslike “study more, ” when the whole reason I was playingvideo games was to avoid studying, or to hang out with friendswhen all my friends played video games.
Not knowing what else to do, I decide to quit cold-turkey, and after a few months, I learned key lessons that ledto major breakthroughs in my recovery.
And knowing otherswere struggling with this addiction, I decided to share my story.
I wrote a blog post online titled”How to quit playing video games forever, ” and the response: overwhelming.
But is video game addictionreally that big of a problem? I mean, we are talkingabout video games here.
Sure, I had my ownpersonal experience with it, but did this problem scale, or was I just one of the unlucky ones? Current research suggeststhat 97 percent of youth play video games, which equates to 64 million kids, in the US alone, between the ages of 2 and 17, with the fastest-growing agewere kids aged 2 to 5.
In the UK, 10% more kids aged 2 to 5 knowhow to operate a smartphone application, then know how to tie their own shoes.
Unfortunately, the debatesurrounding video games focuses on whether you should play or not, when that's like sayingshould you drink or not, if you can do itin moderation, that's fine.
But what if you can't, what if right nowyou are stuck at home playing video games, and you want to stop and don't know how.
Imagine for a secondhow this makes you feel.
Do you feel a sense of pain? What about feelings of guilt, shame, do you feel confident, anxious, depressed? Now, this wouldn't be a good TEDx talkunless I shared the lessons I learned and how you can use them to help yourself or someone you knowovercome this addiction.
It's not about the games;it's about why you play the games.
If you can understand why you play games, you can move on from them.
There are four main reasonswhy you play games.
First, they are a temporary escape.
After a tough breakup at the age of 18, playing games onlinegave me the perfect way of not having to deal with the situation.
I could simply get absorbed in gamesand play for hours and hours.
Second, games are social.
Staying home on a Friday nightdoesn't seem so bad when you are at home playing gameswith your friends online.
Not only that, but games offera clean slate on the social ladder.
Being bullied when I was younger didn't exactly leave me feelingvery confident in my social standing.
I felt misunderstood, unaccepted, and unsure how to fix it, even though I want it too.
Playing games onlinegave me this opportunity; I could be who I wanted to be;nobody knew my history, and I was judged basedon my ability to play the game and not on my current social standing.
Third, games are a challenge.
They give you a sense of purpose, a mission, a goal to work towards.
This is an achievement paradigm, achievements multiply the opportunitiesto experience success.
Finally, you see constantmeasurable growth.
This is a feedback loop.
You get to see progress.
When you are at school, you struggleto improve your social standing, but online you are able to see rewardsfor the efforts you've put in.
Consider how it feels when you're finallyable to see progress in something; consider how it feels when you are able to see that the goalyou've set out for is achievable; combine these four areas, and you have a very addicting process.
So where do we go from here?How do we fix this problem? Video game addictionis a habit developed over time by becoming your go-to activitywhenever you're bored.
So parents, it starts with you.
I'm sorry to say, but the iPadis not the new babysitter.
They need interaction, not entertainment.
Next, game was played for various – (Applause) Next, games were playedfor very specific reasons.
Identify their motivations and help themfind these in other activities, help them with their social skills.
The truth is they struggleto make friends.
Lastly, don't punish themfor their desire to play these games.
Come from a place of compassionand encouragement, not judgment.
We are so caught up in askingwhether this is a real addiction or not that we've lost sightof what truly matters: How do we help these peoplestop playing video games? But there is another way.
The truth is this is about the idea of feeling trapped in somethingyou want to move on from.
It's about the freedomto live the way that you want and on your own terms, and sometimes all you need is permission.
Permission to move on from somethingyou want to move on from.
Permission to stop playing video games.
So if you're out there, whether in the audienceor watching at home, I want you to understand one thing:you have permission.