Wow, Majikfaerie, I could have written your post, nice to know there is someone else like me around. I don't know any other clean ex-junkie, like you, almost everyone I knew back then is dead (most didn't live past 21.) I've been clean for 15 years now (16 in September.)
I left home at 16, a pretty mutual decision between me and my dad (to put it nicely) and hung out in the street punk scene for years. Pretty well every other kid there was like me, not a runaway, but a throwaway. Many of the kids came from so-called "good" families (well off, 2 parents, nice house, etc.) What we all had in common was that our parents didn't know or like who we were and wanted different kids, or just didn't care enough to get to know their own kids.
I've always felt that the main reason I survived was that I had a very, very good mother who made it really clear that she adored me and that having children was the only really important thing in her life. My mom died when I was 12, and I pretty well just drifted after that, but just having known unconditional love and acceptance at some point in my life was the big difference between me and the kids who died, or wound up in jail, or who just never got out of the life.
My past hugely influenced how I parented ds from the beginning. Way before I'd heard of unschooling or attachment parenting I'd decided that trust and respect were the most important things I could give my child.
Because of my past, my family, and ds's father and his family (lots of addiction problems of all sorts on both sides) I do worry about addiction in ds. I've been honest with him about mine and his father's past (to whatever extent that I felt he could understand at the time), and been honest about drugs as much as I can (the whole scare tactic "just say no" drug education from my childhood had a really bad, backward effect on me and a lot of kids I knew, the first time I did drugs or drank, and didn't immediately die, or fall into a coma, or go insane, I figured that all adults had always lied to me about drugs), and I've tried to give him as much honest information I can about addiction, and talking over behavior I see in him that strikes me as addictive. He has had moments where I thought his interest in a game or toy (most notably a pokemon obsession when he was 5 or 6) had crossed the line into addiction.
This is pretty rare in kids, or most adults though. Ds's pokemon obsession went from wanting to play pokemon, watch pokemon and talk about pokemon all the time (pretty normal behavior for a 6 year old at the time), to not being able to think about or do anything else. He would think about what pokemon card he would buy all week long, build it up so much, become convinced that "this" card was the one that would make him happy. Then, when he bought the card, he'd get home, realize that "this" card wasn't filling the need, and would become convinced that it was some other card at the shop he really needed, and that card was the
one, the one that would fill the void, make him happy, enable him to stop thinking about pokemon all the time (of course, at 6 he didn't articulate this quite this well, it was "I was wrong, it was the other card I need, we have to go back to the store RIGHT NOW, I can't live without THAT card.") I finally decided I needed to step in and take pokemon cards and stuff away for a while. We did talk about it at the time, and ds agreed that he wasn't really enjoying pokemon anymore, he just couldn't stop thinking about them and wanted to stop. I banned pokemon stuff for about a month. Eventually he was able to start playing pokemon again without becoming obsessed, but he really did need my help to stop at the time.
That said, I've rarely seen kids display this kind of behavior. Ds has spent most of the last 2 years either playing video games or being on the net. When he's online, he is mostly either chatting with friends, watching anime or reading manga. Even though he's online anywhere from 2-10 hours a day (it's -51 below outside right now, there is really very little else to do right now), he's always doing something different that stimulates his brain and interests him, and he can walk away from the computer if something else interests him. So, while he's spending a lot of time on the computer, I'm not worried at all about how he relates to it, he's using it as a tool.
Video games, on the other hand, he spends a lot of time playing the same games over and over again, while at the same time complaining about how frustrated and bored he is with the games. He isn't acting like he's addicted to the games, but it seems to me that they have become more of a bad habit than anything else, and we have been talking about how much he is playing, and how he doesn't seem to enjoy what he's doing, and how doing something over and over again in the hopes that it might become fun again doesn't make sense. I don't think he's ready to give up on gaming (nor would I want him to give up a huge category of activity), but I think he does need a push move on to a new area, or start interacting with games differently (play more complicated games, or start designing games, something that would challenge him more.) I spend a lot of time with him watching him play games or watching anime, and we talk a lot about both the content of what he's watching or playing, and about how he and I both feel about how much time he's spending staring at screens (is it taking time away from our relationship, friends, and other activities he loves but is avoiding because it's just easier to turn on the game.)
Basically, to cut this long-winded post short, I think when people talk about being "addicted" to video games or tv, what they are really worried about is bad habits, and the best way to teach what you feel are good habits is to practice those habits yourself. If I ever get really, really worried about how much time ds is spending on video games and the computer, I'll stop watching tv and spending time online myself. (and since I'm still on MDC, I guess I'm not all that worried yet