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(Original Air Date: 10/20/08) Sixty-five percent of American households report playing computer and video games, and surprisingly, the average player is 35 years old. Computer games are supposed to be fun, but when a hobby turns into an obsession, virtual fantasy worlds can ruin lives and wreck marriages. Juli says her 34-year-old husband, Fred, plays computer games all day and ignores his entire family. Fred admits to spending up 10 hours a day in a cyber world, but will he call it an addiction? Fred’s stepson, Brandon, thinks Fred is lazy and that his mom can do better. Then, Brad, 40, was so addicted to games that he spent up to 80 hours a week locked in the basement with his computer. Not only did he accumulate close to $24,000 of debt, his addiction nearly cost him his marriage and his life! Next, Liz found her 21-year-old son, Shawn, dead at his computer from a self-inflicted gun shot. She says that a role-playing game in the virtual world transformed her son from a vibrant young adult into a depressed introvert, which ultimately led to his suicide. Liz founded Online Gamers Anonymous to educate others about the potential dangers of obsessive gaming. Then, when Wendy married a video game designer who played games day and night, she literally took matters into her own hands and started playing herself. Are you or is someone you love at risk for video game addiction? Log on to DrPhil.com for a checklist of signs! Join the discussion.

Find out what happened on the show.
Comments
Replied By: yunasy on Aug 28, 2013, 5:12AM
In this video, a teen completely freaks out and has some kind of crazy breakdown after he finds out his mom deleted his World of Warcraft account. He's hitting himself with his shoes, thrashing around wildly, and twisting his covers around himself.

I've always thought video games were ridiculous to obsess over, and honestly this video doesn't surprise me one bit. People are TOO OBSESSED with video games.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCYT-GTwolU
 
Replied By: sweetcheeks54 on Aug 25, 2011, 8:39PM
I saw you show on Virtual Reality games on OWN channel today 8/25/11.  I do not agree with u.
I am a 57yr old woman who has been on Second Life Virtual World Social Network.  I have been there since 10/14/07.  Since I do not work, I have been known to be on the computer up to 17hrs a day.  I do own my home and my kids are grown with families of their own.  I have cut down my time online when I got ill with h1n1 & pneumonia, even after having my shots, back in Feb 2011.  I have one main avatar that was for 2.5yrs a business person but due to my illness I had to give up my land and close my business temporarily.  I also have other avatars that I have created for role playing just for shits & giggles.  mainly I am on my main acct.  I also create avatars for other ppl to use because I do such a good job that ppl want to have them.  Linden Labs only goes by the IP address not by the creator of the avatar, so I can have 20 avatars and only be using 5 of them.  I have created male and female avatar.  I know all the good stores or I go into my own store stock that I have.  my main thing is the live music and the musicians that sing.  the ones that I go to listen to have ustreams and u can see & hear them singing in RL time too.  I have been partnered 2X.   sure when ur with someone and u break up ur gonna have a broken heart it is normal just like in RL, but u eventually go on.  and ur friends help you.  I have had one experience that really went bad.  I didn't do my normal practice that I usually do for renting my room out cus these ppl were my friends from SL, didn't think they would mess me over.  Wrong.  I have a big heart and they told me that he had lost his job due to the economy & the bank forclosed on the house, were going to close & lock the doors a week later.  I suggested they move to where I am at in Indiana.  I didn't send them an application for the room that I rent out.  I already had 3 applicants who wanted to come see the room and 2 were students for the university.  Well they came all the way from Oklahoma, never paid me any rent, ate the food I had and their 2 dogs were not house broke.  b4 they left I was told "well at least we can be friends in SL".  I told them in front of a friend "I took you both off my friends list and Muted u so there is no way that I know when u are on."  They were the only problem I have have with SL.  My other friends have been there when I need them.  When I got sick, they were trying to figure out how to contact me cus they thought I died.  They didn't know that I was in the hospital until I was transferred to a nursing home and got onling to post to my Facebook and post inworld that I was ok.  Not all cases are as bad as u see them Dr Phil.   My family shows up and I log out.  I am alone except for my dog & cat.  I love my Second Life and will continue.  I just got done watching Life 2.0.  damn wish that they had of found me then they could have seen what I do in SL.  I follow musicians, a few in Oklahoma, some in California.  I work in SL to as a hostess now and I most likely will do so after I get my venue re-opened.  Dr Phil u should try SL u may like it.
Laters
SweetCheeks54
 
Replied By: diomand on Feb 21, 2010, 6:47PM
My Husban plays online  ,he has been on a number of on line games and can't even count how many games he has played on line,And how much money he has spent doing so,My guess is in the thousands.It takes time away from me and our children.when all he wants to do is chat and play online games.It makes me feel like he doesn't want us and that the people he plays with me more to him. It is like he is having an affair because there have been women he has talk to and they use to call him when he played one game before.And it is like the game is the other woman because in the game he doesn't have to deal with real life and he can't do know wrong.Everyone is not who they really are ,if you could all see what each person was really like in real life things would be different.


Others have said it is cheaper to pay for the games on line then to go out to the movies and out to eat. Sure you have to pay once a month price to play and then there is the other cost that you have to pay for, so that you can get things for your online game and they can range from 20 .30.50.99 and when you do this every month or more than once a month the price add's up. the money you spend on these games could be paying for things that could help the hole family or something the hole family could be enjoying. The only person getting enjoyment  from playing and spending money that we don't all have is the person who is playing it.

I don't think there is anything wrong with playing games if you have the money to pay, meaning all your bill's are paid.And if you are saving money for the things to come that you may need it for.
1 hour a day is fine, but when you have to go and play the game before work and right after work and not say a word but can you get me a coffee and what is for supper. And the only time you get up is if you have to go to the bathroom and to go to bed.And when your hole weekend  is spent online playing games and your spouse and children want to do something it is wait I can't go anywhere until I finsh what I am doing witch can takes hours. and as soon as we get home right back on line playing. When you have to take your laptopn with you when you go far away in case there is no cumputer in the hotal room and you still spend time on line and not with your family.when you can't talk to the person because they will yell they are playing the game and or childrens friends are over they must be quit like a mouse because the person is playing the game or the friends can't come over .

I know the person who does this it is because they don't want to deal with other things ,how will they ever deal with them if they are to busy playing games.

They just want there wife and children to leave them alone and that they don;t have a problem it is the wifes fault and the childrens fault.And she is bad because she makes him feel bad about him or her self for playing the game and spending the money and we should just leave them alone and let them do what ever they want .As we die inside and wan't love and for the person who we married to show us the time of day they show strager's. the people they play the game with gets more from them than those of us that are there for them,cleaning cooking.working,taken care of the children.and trying to pay bills with out overdwaling the account. And the hidding the fact that they are going to spend money and the only way we find out is by looking at the account becuase they know if they say anything about it to use we will say know so they do it behide are back because that way they get what they want until next time.And it seem's to be worth the pain it causes the wife and the yelling and even if it makes her sick .
 
Replied By: coldfusion06 on Aug 4, 2009, 11:32AM
I have been a gamer most of my life, and I just have to tell some points to consider in relationship to this show.

Despite what any professional tells you or what your personal experiences may be, video games are not an addiction in the technical sense of the word. The proposal to incliude video games as an addiction has been denied by the AMA to include it in the DSM IV.

source: http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKN2425415820070624?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0

Secondly, Dr. Phil was right at the beginning of the show to call this an OBSESSION, not an ADDICTION. What is the difference between the two?

An addiction involves some chemical and possibly genetic link to an unhealthy dependence on something else. There is no 'self-control.' Being obsessed with something means that an individual is very well capable of self-control, however refuses to utilize it.

How many people here are 'addicted' to Dr. Phil? Many people have voiced their concerns / complaints on here. Have you actually tried to sit down and talk to your spouse about it? Have you actually tried to show an interest in it yourself?

Before I met my wife, I played Ultima Online. Six months after we were married, she asked me if she could have a copy because she was interested in playing. So I picked her up a copy on my way home from work the next day. Since then, we have played Dark Age of Camelot together, and World of Warcraft. Also, I play Warhammer Online - she did not have an interest in that.

We have already set a time aside for ourselves. We agree that Fridays are our "date night." Things are tough financially. I have b een out of work for 3 years - we just recently moved because of my wife's work. I put in over 100 applications for work in the last 3 weeks, and even followed up on those jobs, and no one was hiring that I applied to. All the household work/chores are usually done by me on Tuesdays. We do not have any children, but if we did I would be spending time with them and set gaming aside.

Maybe those who complain about spouses playing these games which cause disconnect in a marriage simply refuse to understand why or how it can be fun. There are lots of things to do, lots of places to explore, rich encaptulating storylines - and even friendships can develop. Now, that seems silly that friendships can develop over a virtual world. But think about this:

Most 'guilds' or communities that share these similar interests have a discussion forum such as this. Many of those forums have off-topic discussion areas; where people talk about real life success, struggles, families, and so forth. Some even have a forum dedicated to hot topics like politics, economy, and so forth.

One thing you have to understand about playing these games for those who never played before. If you 'raid' (get a group of 25 people from your guild to go through a dungeon), usually a guild expects that to happen 3 times a week, usually between 730 and 1130 pm. Then, to prepare for that, you have to make sure you have certain items which you can do throughout the week in no more than 2 hours time per day. But, this is if your character is at max level, and can participate in that activity.

If you were starting from the very beginning, you would understand why "time seems to fly by."  Being an addict means you lack the simple skills for self-restraint. Obsession means you have the skilsl for self-restraint - and have demonstrated those skills in other areas of life - you just refuse to use them.

The one thing parents need to teach their children these days is the concept of responsibility. No one has that concept any longer. Any time something new or strange comes out, people are quick to label it an addiction, or disorder - and then they do not have to take responsibility for what they have done or what they are doing. Teach responsibility first, and everything else will fall into place. We have turned into a society of blame-gamers; hardly anyone anymore ever says, "You know what? I am sorry, I take the blame for this."  If this is not taught in the early years, it will be harder for them later in life.
 
Replied By: victoria21 on Jun 25, 2009, 3:20PM - In reply to tessprof
Your comment gave me a good laugh. My husband no longer plays wow, got his old  job back and our family and relationship grow stronger everyday. We have never been happier. You have to fight before you give up and I will never regret going to Dr. Phil and putting it all on the table. It saved my marriage and my kids relationship with their dad. You really shouldnt be so rude and judgemental. It's not healthy behavior
 
Replied By: erb0346 on Jun 15, 2009, 10:28PM - In reply to kathleen132
Hi! This is my husband exactly! We have been together for 5 years now, married for one, lived together for 3. We are expecting our first child in two months. I thought this would change him a little but I don't think it is going to, I think he is just getting worse and am afraid he will neglect our son the way he neglects me. Three months ago he up and quit his job without so much as talking to me about it and put us in a real financial bind and he has no interest and is not even considering looking for another job. I am trying to finish my nursing degree, one semester left, and am pregnant therefore I cannot work for another 6 months and I refuse to give up my education and career because he cant be a man and get a job to support his family. I don't know what to do about it. I don't want to just walk out of marriage as I feel like I will be failing as a mother by taking my son away from his father, but if he is going to neglect him then maybe it is better. I want to wait until the baby gets here to see what he does and finish my my last semester of school before I do anything to serious, but after that if he still just sits around playing games it will ruin our marriage and as much as I don't want to, I'm afraid I will have to leave him. Like you said though, I have tried everything to talk to him and tell him that it is a problem, but he only becomes angry saying all I do is nag him and that I am needy. I watched this show in the same room as him, while he played his games, so that maybe something would get through but he only says oh thats not me. However he spends atleast 8-12 hours a day on the computer, and neglects doing family activities because he has to play WOW. Right now he is not working, so his normal day consist of going to bed around 3 or 4 in the morning, waking me up I might add, then sleeping till about 1 or 2 in the afternoon. As soon as he gets up he starts playing games and maybe stops for about 30 minutes to eat dinner, hurries through that not interested in talking to me about anyhthing, and goes back to his games. When I ask him to get off the computer and come to bed with me or try to get him to spend time with me he again just gets angry and says I am being needy. I am so sorry for your situation, I know exactly what it is like and it is almost impossible to keep the marriage going. I don't know what to do especially now that a child is involved, but a marriage takes two people and he's not trying to make it work so there is only so much I can do. As hard as it is for me, #1 because I have a son on the way that I don't want to take a dad away from, and #2 even though he is doing this I love my husband very much, when I fell I fell hard, I don't see him even trying to change and if he did I don't think it would last, so unless having a child changes his mind I am almost certain our marriage will end in divorce. That will be a battle in itself, because he is the type of person that does not think I would ever leave until I did and then he would beg and plead saying he would change, only to resort back to his old habits a  few months later. So anyways, all I can say is I am so sorry and try to be strong for yourself and your children. I know it is not fair and it seems like there is no happy ending but sadly women often times have to be the strong ones in a relationship. Best of luck to you.
 
Replied By: please_help_us on Jun 12, 2009, 6:27PM - In reply to kathleen132
I am so sorry to hear about what you have to go through, but I feel your pain and sadness...  Have you ever heard of "Second Life"?  Well My dad is 65 year's old, found the game in October 08 and has been big time addicted to it since.  He was in there every day at least 10 hour's a day, with the door shut.  Family talked to him then he started leaving the door open, but still in there 10 hour's or more a day.  In the past couple month's it has gotten much worse.  Every day, up to 15 hour's a day.  A few day's ago he told my mom that he would be on it from 6am- 12noon, every day with the door shut, and no interuptions.  Well because he does only what he want's she had no choice but to be ok with it.  So maybe your saying 6 hour's is not so bad...Well here is the reality up to current date.......

He has been on this schedule for a week, who know's if he will break away for more time soon.  During the day he is a jerk at time's to my mom and I for no reason and I am sure that he is having a withdrawl from the game.  Well here is reality.....He has been ignoring my mom for several month's not caring at all what she say's about the game, nor does he care what we as the family think.  He has been spending alot of money on the game, as you can buy virtual clothes and sexual favors in the virtual world, etc..... Just the other day the power company came to give them a 24 hour pay notice.  He is never late on bill's but this game is taking ALOT of money away from their life and he either is not paying the bill's due to a lack of money or is forgetting the importance of real life. So here's something that really pulled at my heart, My mom caught him twice seeing his virtual world icon getting pleasured, when she said "Honey what are you doing" His reply was "Having computer sex".

   What make's that more harsh is that they have been married for almost 40 year's.  Well when he told me his new schedule for the computer and that the door will be shut, I told him that it's not fare at all he came back and said "You get to shut your bedroom door for privacy"  I said "I am not 65, I am not married for almost 40 year's, and I don't have a wife hurting every day and siting her life in a chair hoping she would give some attention".  He said "ok".  Still the door has remain closed.  Well just three day's ago I walked by the room and over heard him talking so I stood there and listened for almost an hour...The thing's I heard made me cry and almost open the door to then throw the computer out the window, but because of both of their condition's health wise I have to take the appropriate step's to handle the situation, in which I don't know what they are yet, as anything even small will make him blow up and it would litterally kill my mom if she knew what was really going on.

   Well here are some things I heard him say, oh and this was on a special microphone head set that he bought just for the game...."I hope I make you happy, is there anything I can do to change because I know I am not perfect, We will make a great couple on second life, let's redesign our virtual world house, if anything comes up I want you to know you can call me on my cell phone," and many other things.  This make's me so sick as I am sure you can imagine.  Anything I say to him or other family member's will come back on me as being the bad person because I am rating him out, looking through his credit card statement and listening to his call's, but please understand that I am doing this to protect my mom from being lied to or hurt more or even divorced without having a head's up, as I knew for quite sometime he had to have been involved with someone online.  He rarely take's my mom out, he doesn't even stay awake when he is with her, as he sleep's on the couch after his time on the computer, he rarely goes to bed with her, and he seem's to be very irritated very easily.  I'm sure he has checked out of the marriage and the family, but he is still nice to his real son.  He will not listen to me for nothing.....I feel your pain and I am sorry you suffer, so do my mom and I and anyone else who is experienceing this with their family member.  I don't know what to do to save the family from going down to nothing, I really hope that someone can help.  I just feel that it will kill my mom's heart and then kill her, she hurt's all the time, knwoing that something is going on, but of course when she ask's he say's "no".  If I do anything then most likly he will run away from my mom and I or even have a heart attack as his health is not to good, and  then may leave my mom.  Also when we talk to him about it, he gets mad at us and say's he is doing nothing wrong and he is doing everything in the marriage to make my mom happy, but obviously people who have a problem will not see life like they use to and think that they are perfect...  I wish you well and maybe someone will read this and can help us....

  
 
Replied By: kathleen132 on Jun 10, 2009, 8:03PM
My husband game anywhere from 30 to 40 hours a week.  We have three children and he seems to have checked out of our marriage.  Our marriage was not perfect before but now his gaming seems to be making our marriage toxic.  He has stopped taking care of things that I would expect him to take care of.  I am not sure what to do anymore?  This has all started happening within the last 4 months.  He gets up in the morning and before he even gets out of bed he is on the laptop.  He is on and off the game throughout the day at work.  Then he comes home and barely says hi to the children and goes on the game.  Its hard to get him to dinner anymore and he has decided that he will just tell the kids to go bed now instead of tucking them in.  It has always been a ritual in our house that daddy always put the children to bed,  I'm with them all day and we figured that would be something they would remember if daddy did.  But that has disappeared now.  He doesn't speak to me anymore.  Like I said he get home from maybe comes up for dinner and then plays until 2 or 4am.  Weekends he only goes outside if he has to mow the grass otherwise he is on the game most of the day.  The children have noticed daddy has checked out too.  This cannot be healthy and our marriage is falling apart.  But he tells me he doesn't have a problem with the game, I'm just the problem.  I am very tired of fight with the game.  I wish he would check back in and realize there is a problem but I'm afraid that will be too late and the marriage will be ruined.  He just seems so angry anymore you can't talk to him about anything.  Sorry for the on and on I guess I just had to vent maybe this will give me some perspective on this problem.   Any suggestions are welcome. 
 
Replied By: aluminumunion on Jun 10, 2009, 4:21PM
I really wish people would stop blaming the entertainment industry for all of your problems using it as a cop-out to negate personal responsibility. like a lot of things, games are fun and good in moderation, if you are a person who lacks self control or has a pre-dispostion to being an addictive personality then maybe it's not for you. For example, Alcohol is fine in moderation it's only when used in excess does it become problem. the moral of this story: show self control, take responsibilty for your own actions and stop looking for scape-goats to pin everything on.
 
Replied By: helleborine on Jun 7, 2009, 9:27PM
Playing WoW every available minute has cost my brother all his friends.  His apartment is like a landfill, the trash is too far.  He is 35 years old, and has never kissed a girl (or dude if that's what he'd prefer).  He's 300-lb from eating nothig but order-in pizza (Ramen noodles take too long).  If you pay him a visit, it's clear he can't wait for you to leave.  He won't clear the table, over you a drink, or even talk beyond monosyllables.

He has never cultivated his mind, and has no conversation whatsoever.  He doesn't read, doesn't watch TV, doesn't read the news.  All he can talk about is how he feels, or WoW.  He's not interested in other people's lives, since they are made of contemptible flesh rather than valuable pixels.

He used ot be funny and smart.  He still makes a good living.  But he is lost to the world, and his main accomplishment in life is to move electrons along the internet.

He is a MENSA member.  It figures.
 
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