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New resource for video games and mental health

Posted at 6:18 PM, Jun 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-13 12:18:46-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Eight percent of kids and adolescents that are younger than 18 are addicted to playing video games; spending almost 8 hours a day on a device. Some say this leads to negative mental health outcomes.

"I've seen a lot of anxiety and depression that has come from video games," said mental health therapist Julie Schuck.

"If there a place that y'all send parents, grandparents people to go get help, mental help advice to understand these games and what to do? and they said no," said website creator Jeff Griggs.

To address how video games are impacting children's mental health, a Leon County father is launching a new website that offers free resources to parents.

19-year-old Joel Griggs moved from Tallahassee to Oklahoma in 2020 to start a new job. Shortly after moving, he was laid off and broke up with his girlfriend.

His dad Jeff said his son turned to games like Call of Duty to distract him from what was going on. After playing for over 80 hours in four days with little breaks, Jeff said Joel was in a delusional state, acted impulsively and took his life.

According to Society for Psychotherapy, video games have been associated with low self-esteem, anger and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Julie Schuck is a mental health therapist who works with teens and young adults in Tallahassee. She said teens who are in front of screens for hours at a time, like Joel, are often immersed in a false reality.

"He just got super confused on what was reality and what was fiction and that can be confusing with all those shooting games, all those loud noises and those constant notifications. I mean it's a lot for anyone," said Schuck.

Schuck has seen an increase in parents looking for help but not knowing where to turn.

"They're like, 'I'm stuck what do I do? I feel like there's nothing I can do,' and I was like hang on, there are so many resources," said Schuck.

One of those resources is a new website Jeff created in honor of Joel's memory to help others before it's too late.

"I miss my son so dang much, but I want to help other parents, guardians, grandparents to have answers and to have resources," said Griggs.

Some of the resources on the website include ratings for games, contacts to local mental health professionals in Leon County and tips for parents to help their kids play video games safely.

One step parents can take is setting a time limit for screen play for their kids. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children only have about two hours of screen based entertainment per day. Schuck said that if your child is constantly coming home from school and immediately going to a computer or a gaming console, it could be a red flag.

Superintendent of Leon County Schools Rocky Hanna said having this information is vital for teachers as they're often the second line of defense in a kid's life.

"There are cases where children are not getting that information from the adults in their life at home and if it doesn't then come from a schools and from teachers, then who's going to do it? The conversations will never be had," said Hanna.

Grigg's website,, is now live and can be accessed for free. If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can dial 988 for free counseling and help. If you live in the Big Bend, you can also dial 211 for a 24/7 hotline.