Mum reacts to ‘pathetic parenting’ backlash over gaming
"PLEASE give your boy to someone who can actually be a parent. You are pathetic."
That is just one of countless messages Sydney mum Britta Hodge has received in recent days after going public about her son Logan's gaming addiction.
From people saying her 14-year-old needs his demons exorcised, to someone who actually started a petition to get Logan removed from her care, Ms Hodge's parenting skills have been criticised widely.
Logan had refused to go to school for two years, only leaving his room for food or the bathroom, because of his addiction to the popular video game Fortnite.
After 60 Minutes profiled the teen and another family on Sunday night, social media was flooded with angry parents who said the games were not the problem, it was the parents.
Speaking to news.com.au two days after the program aired, Ms Hodge said she had to stop reading the messages sent to her directly.
"It was distressing," she said.
"We've had a lot of people tell us it's bad parenting, but these are people who actually don't understand and that's fine, they're entitled to their view.
"I messaged the person who started the petition to watch the full story and, to his credit, he actually came back and messaged an apology.
"I stand by (the story), I would do it again. We will continue to try and get the word out there because we've seen how it affects families."
An Online Gaming Addiction Facebook group started three weeks ago by the family already has 700 members.
Ms Hodge said the group represented hundreds of people across the country who were crying out for help.
She said it had actually been inundated with positive messages saying thank you for bravely speaking out.
From siblings watching their brothers and sisters struggle to grandparents or friends, she said many people were struggling to help teens or children with gaming addiction.
And she said gaming addiction was a "hidden secret" because people were scared of getting shamed like her family did.
"It's a hidden addiction. People don't talk about it because they're embarrassed; people judge," she said.
"But it's not going to stop us from trying to make other people aware. There is hope, there is support and we can get together and find a solution for these children."
The World Health Organisation has recognised gaming disorder as a diagnosable condition.
Fortnite has more than 125 million players worldwide and an estimated 40 million people play the game monthly.
Logan is actually among thousands of Australians confined to their bedrooms because of the gaming addiction.
He said if he had his way he would play Fortnite 14 hours a day.
Ms Hodge said she did not want Logan to stop playing completely but find the right balance and return to the happy boy he used to be.
He's now attending a bridging school for 1.5 hours a day.
But Ms Hodge said other kids did not have help easily available and wait lists were long.
The family's psychiatrist, Dr Tanveer Ahmed, said solving the problem was not as simple as removing the game.
Dr Ahmed said the real issue was the social anxieties these children faced.
"For these kids social death is worse than actual death," he said.
"That's why they're retreating to these games."
Dr Ahmed said while games were not the problem, there was now a greater level of sophistication to them that made them harder for parents to deal with.
Teens know when they wake up there are countless people around the world waiting to play with them.
"It is an emergency," Dr Ahmed said.
Ms Hodge hopes to organise a forum for Australian families to attend or weekend retreats where they can work together to get the help they need.