Teen who dropped out of school to play video games goes through treatment in the wilderness

ABC News' Elizabeth Vargas reports on a teen who was playing video games up to 60 hours per week before his parents sent him to a wilderness program for an intervention.
5:07 | 05/19/17

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Transcript for Teen who dropped out of school to play video games goes through treatment in the wilderness
We are back with a closer look at teens and tech. According to one report the average American teen spins nine hours a day on screens and for boys especially that means video games. "20/20" anchor Elizabeth vargas here with one boy's story. His parents had to treat him to the wilderness for treatment. Unbelievable step the family was forced to take. THR three-quarters of them are playing on video games. He dropped out of school so he would have more time for gaming leaving his parents desperate for help. 14-year-old Josh can't stop playing video games. What's a typical day in Josh's life? Sleeping in till 11:00, 12:00 then he would be on till like 1:00, 2:00 in the morning. Reporter: His parents say he's up playing 60 hours a week. Often into the wee hours of the morning. You know, it's after 3:00 and I told you get off at 1:00. Stop. Why didn't you just take the computer away? I don't understand. When we did take it away, there was a lot of problems in our house with his behavior. Reporter: Al and Christina confiscate it, even lock the router out in the car. Josh responds by lashing out and then eventually dropping out of school. Just a lot of anger, lots of anger. Emotional outbursts. Sounds completely out of control. Yeah. His parents are so desperate to help their son they decide to send him to a Utah wilderness program called unplugged with outback therapeutic expeditions. It waived his fee to bring attention to obsessive screen use. Here Josh and a few other boys will camp for weeks with no running water, electricity or computer screens. I'm Elizabeth. It's very nice to meet you. I check in on Josh more than seven weeks into the program. Therapists are teaching self-reliance on long hikes and through roughing it. All hoping to give the boys insight into the compulsions that brought them here. I'm noticing that it was real bad. Reporter: The next day his parents come to visit. After the longest and most difficult separation of his young life. Hey, Josh. How are you? Good. Good to see you. Oh, my god. You're getting bigger. Hey. Are you doing all right? Yeah. So this is your camp right here. Reporter: The boy who could barely bring himself to put a few words together is now reflective. When I get home I didn't really notice that video games were like destroying me mentally and how it was like just as bad as substances. Like mentally. I just didn't notice that. I didn't like care at all. I mean I literally skipped school for a month just to play video games. Well, love you. Reporter: And then it's time for good-byes. Josh will remain behind for now. He has more work to do in the desert. Now, one of the challenges for Josh and others like him who suffer from behavioral issues for example like eating disorders is that he has to find a healthy balance. He doesn't have to play electronic video games but will have to use a phone or computer. You can't go completely cold Turkey. His words were so strong and said they were destroying him mentally. How is he doing now. Really well. He spent ten weeks out in the wilderness and getting homeschooled to get caught up and start regular school in the fall. Does not have his computer back, hasn't been on it since coming home. Before school starts they'll have to reintroduce it in a healthy way. Is it an addiction? A lot we profile have underlying issues like anxiety and depression and using video games as a way to escape it or numb it but the word addiction around video gaming or online soshl is very controversial. The American psychiatric association is considering naming video gaming and internet addiction as a psychiatric illness or as a, quote, addiction but others argue it's not. T many Asian countries call it a public health crisis and have hundreds of rehab centers to treat it. Whatever you call it, not just kids and teens. The actual average age of a gamer is a 35-year-old man. There's a father of four who spend hours and hours and goes downstairs to his man cave and games till it A.M. In the morning. Fascinating. You can see more tonight right here on ABC.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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