Dear Straight Talk: I'm 17, writing about my brother, 16. I believe my parents are allowing him to socially retard himself with video games. If he gets good grades and does his chores, they feel he can spend his time how he likes. How can they be this clueless? He has no social life whatsoever because his attention is glued to these pretend worlds! So many boys waste their lives like this and have no idea how to interact with real people. Hopefully my parents will read this. -- Fed up in Toledo
Brandon, 20: Most parents ARE clueless. An astounding number of boys waste their lives on video games. Your brother is actually a step up from the norm if he gets good grades and does chores.
Karina, 25: Two of my brothers are well adjusted. The third is a video game addict and mostly a shut-in. He is now 29 with no long-standing or meaningful relationships. Yes, he has exceptional hand-eye coordination and is good with electronics, which landed him a high-paying government job (which I must note, requires little interpersonal interaction). I love him dearly, yet he doesn't love himself and is constantly unhappy. I hope your parents step up.
Nicole, 22: Video games are designed to addict the player. They can be as debilitating as drug dependency. At 16, teens are supposed to be figuring out who they are.
Taylor, 15: What gets me is the violence. First-person headshots and bloody battles shouldn't be a game.
Colin, 18: People have literally played World of Warcraft until they dropped dead. No joke. Look it up. That said, not all games are this addicting and millions play them. I started when I was 9, slowly playing more violent games. However, my parents never liked it so I had to argue fiercely and constantly for my daily "computer time." Then, realizing I was leaving for college in six months, they lifted the restrictions. I indulged, playing five hours a day for a couple of weeks. Then I just stopped. I actually got bored! I still play some, but everything changed.
Sarah, 20: I knew many intense gamers in high school who grew out of it. Most are now very social.
Gregg, 21: The worst part about being addicted was thinking about the game no matter where I was. I'd wake up early to play, go to school and think about playing, talk about the game at recess with other gamers, and all day I just couldn't wait to get home and play late into the night. It's disappointing to look back at the lost hours. Yes, the games are challenging and you feel accomplished, but in reality, it's a waste of time that doesn't advance your life a bit. Finally my dad got really upset about it and I quit.
Dear Fed Up: You are spot-on. I wish more parents would wake up and be fed up. The easiest route is to keep computers in family rooms and not allow gaming, period. Otherwise, parents, prepare to nag constantly or finally explode (Colin's and Gregg's experiences) -- which sadly, is more than most parents do. By the way, it was because Colin's parents nagged and restricted throughout his formative years that lifting restrictions at 18 worked. The argument that most gamers "grow out of it" is lame. Why let them stunt themselves in the first place? --Lauren
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