A viral video of a Filipino mother who goes to an internet cafe and hand-feeds her 13-year old son because he refuses to end his 48-hour gaming binge to eat has once again reignited the debate on youth video game addiction.
37-year-old Lilybeth Marvel first noticed there was something wrong with her son Carlito about two years ago, when he began staying up late at an internet cafe near the family home in Nueva Ecija, the Philippines.
Things got progressively worse as time went by, to the point where the 13-year-old now spends days on end with his eyes glued to a monitor playing his favorite "battle royale" video game, Rules of Survival. Last week, Mrs. Marvel was filmed delivering her son's breakfast to the internet cafe and hand feeding him while he continued to play, because he had been there for over 48 hours.
"My poor child... Here, eat now," the concerned mother can be heard telling the boy. "You have so much money, it might take till tomorrow for you to get home. Are you still needing to pee? My goodness, just feel sorry for my child. You are so irritating."
The money she is referring to is the stack of coins in front of Carlito, which he most likely uses to fund his addiction at the internet cafe. It's unclear whether his parents actually gave him the money or if he acquired it by other means. At one point she tries to take the coins, but he becomes agitated and grabs her hand, not letting go until she puts the coins back on the table.
Throughout the 3-minute video, the 13-year-old barely acknowledges his mother's presence. He never even looks at her, instead keeping his eyes on the monitor as he chews the food the woman puts into his mouth.
The shocking video has sparked a debate both on video game addiction among youth and on the mother's handling of the situation. While some social media users felt sorry for the woman, most blamed her for enabling her son's addiction by hand-feeding him while he continued playing, instead of just dragging him home.
After the footage went viral, the mother took to the internet to explain that she and her husband had tried a rough approach at first, by banning Carlito from going to the internet cafe. That didn't work out as well as they had hoped, as the 13-year-old always found ways to sneak out, so now they're trying to do things differently.
"I used to just nag about his online games. But that didn't work. So I'm trying a different approach," the woman said. "I try to make him feel that whatever is happening in his life, I am his mother who loves him and takes care of him."
The two desperate parents have pulled Carlito out of school, because he had started skipping classes to play video games. They are trying to focus on managing his addiction, but admit that it is very difficult and have pleaded online for help.