07/24/2013 04:08 pm ET Updated Sep 23, 2013

Vidiot Syndrome -- Is Your Teen Infected?

Parents, welcome to the world of Vidiot Syndrome. Due to high exposure rates, Vidiot Syndrome rates are increasing, and it's highly contagious amongst those in certain age brackets and as likely to hit your teen as the common cold.

Criteria for diagnosing Vidiot Syndrome:

  • Infected kids spend two or more hours daily playing video games.
  • Infected kids totally isolate themselves when playing video game.
  • Infected individuals claim hours spent playing video games relieve anxiety and stress.
  • When you do hear the infected person's voice over the games noises, s/he is yelling - usually at someone thousands of miles away and considerably older or much younger.
  • Family conversations with the infected are rare or are non-existent.

Additional manifestations of Vidiot Syndrome occurring outside the home:

  • Infected kids struggle socially -- especially in the ability to communicate with their peers.
  • Academics start to slide; interest in school and attendance declines.
  • Social activities decrease -- then cease all together.

So, what's the cure for Vidiot Syndrome? As a parent of an infected child, the following remedies are crucial:

  • Stop believing the rationale that video games actually help your child reduce anxiety. You have the choice of removing, locking up or throwing out the offending germs or games.
  • Hand the infected a few books. Books they will want to read. Good books foster a connection between the reader and the tale and the power of a good story can change a life.
  • Ban electronic devices, including cell phones, from the dinner table. Parents, this also includes your cells, iPad, BlackBerry, etc. Meal time is now Conversation Time. It will be pouty, sulky, miserable time as well, at least for a while. Ignore that and persevere.
  • Send the infected kid outside. Sunshine and fresh air will do wonders. So will cloudy days, rain, snow and sleet -- the air is fresh and the infected person discovers there is a world beyond a screen.

I grant you Vidiot Syndrome doesn't exist as a true medical diagnosis, but the effects are real and spreading. I see it every day in my practice. Teens are increasingly isolated due to time spent playing video games. Isolation turns to anxiety and anxiety quickly morphs into depression. The symptoms are real and becoming pandemic. The cure takes effort and you will have to be more stubborn than the infected... but your teen will reap life-long rewards.

  • Communication skills will improve; this is the groundwork for establishing more meaningful relationships.
  • As the ability to develop relationships with friends, peers, elders, etc. improves, the infected gains a renewed sense of self-confidence and increased personal value.
  • As the cure takes effect and interpersonal relationships develop, your son or daughter acquires the skills needed to make quicker, smarter and healthier decisions.
  • The 'on-the-mend' individual will start choosing to spend time with people that bring meaning to their life. They move past the superficial and into meaningful relationships that foster life-long growth.
  • The ability to live, thrive and be happy in the world increases exponentially.

Isn't your teen's future worth the effort?