Why this website:

My son Joel’s gaming addiction led him to suicide. His tragic story is etched in my mind forever and permeates every pixel of this website.

Having focused my career on the digital industry for over a decade, I am keenly aware of much of the intriguing gaming industry and social media platforms. They offer a sense of community and sometimes stunning graphics to draw our children in and captivate them.

                                                                      These type of games and apps should be discussed, monitored, and set time limits.

Sadly, many perils exist in the virtual world that are very real indeed. In many cases, incredible, even lifelike, graphics introduce dark realms that may include violence, sex, and more to impressionable minds. Imagine experiences so immersive and the impact they can have. Few people really understand this. It is my hope to make you aware so that you may get help and get involved.

Joel’s Story

Joel was a gifted child. From a young age, he exhibited remarkable talent and a quick mind. While he had strong convictions against drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol, he saw video games as a means of escape. He related the experience as being inside a movie. He especially loved the multi-tier platforms and the integrated communication with both friends and “new friends”. I don’t know that he considered anyone a stranger. As smart as he was, he never realized that he was on a very dangerous path.

At age five, Joel’s life became upheaved when his mother and I divorced and she moved 800 miles away, taking our two children with her. Co-parenting for us was a challenge to say the least, and no doubt a strain on the children.

Joel & I with 7 lb trouts

We did the best we could. His mother remarried, as did I. Our new blended family of six with all four children under 11. Together, we devised a summertime family rule where we set aside two days a week, proclaiming them “no electronics days”. Electronic games and apps were strictly off limit these days, even for the adults.

It blessed us with a gift of memories that I will forever treasure. Although our time was abbreviated, Joel and I managed to forge a bond over golf, fishing, tennis, frisbee, and talks about important things in life.  Fishing was a Major Joy we shared, with deep discussions.

Fast forward to December, 2018 when Joel moved back to Tallahassee to live with us after turning 18. Over a period of thirteen months here, his knack for technology became clear. My main mentor. Steve, a heavyweight in the Tallahassee business community, was struck by his potential. He encouraged him to pursue a career in technology.  It made sense then for Joel invest some time working with our business growth company.

Joel's Tech & Sales Mgrs

Joel's 60 lb Tarpon-The Keys                                         

 Joel is a natural with technology. Jeff, I only need to show him once,and he remembers everything. He even takes what he learns from me, and instinctively expands into levels where I have not yet taught him,” remarked my company’s software technology manager. 

 An online friend named Chris offered  Joel a job and  a free place to stay.  He encouraged him, “Come on out west and I will help you move forward with your plan.

Enthused and desperately seeking independence, Joel set out his plan. He would move out west, work and live for free with Chris for a year.  During this time, he set a goal to save $25,000 over a year and prove himself responsible.  Then return to Tallahassee and  attend FSU to pursue a tech degree.

Joel left Tallahassee, barely 19, in late January.  Within five weeks of his move, and over the course of two days, he had a heartbreaking breakup with his girlfriend and his job was down sized. He retreated into his comfortable space, playing online Call of Duty and World of Warcraft. He escaped into surreal, high-energy battles.

Joel with his sales manager and his tech manager at our business growth company

Over the following days, Joel immersed himself in these two dark games. Both online games lead players into a surreal virtual world, with high resolution graphics combined with intense, energetic battles. It can be quite addictive. As Joel delved more deeply into dark and unworldly places, it was as if he were in a trance. Chris told me he became oblivious to almost everything else. He quickly spiraled downward. Per Chris, “He played online four straight days and nights. I estimate he played 75 to 80 hours over those four days.”


These can be dangerous games, especially unmonitored without time limits.

Joel’s favored new online gaming partner turned out to be a 13-year-old boy in Canada who listened as Joel shared the depression he was feeling. Callously, without any filter, this boy prodded Joel to take his life. For over an hour he pressed Joel. I have the police transcripts.

Joel told him, “My roommate just knocked on my door and handed me my pizza. He said he was going outside to call his girlfriend." Joel then shared that as he glanced into Chris’s room, he noticed his gun on the bed.

Heartlessly, this 13-year-old stepped up his pressure, telling Joel to just grab the gun and do it. He said, “One shot, and you will have peace. Remember Joel, you get to come back and have another life. Joel, we do this all the time."  With lines blurred and likely in a state of delusion, Joel impulsively took his advice. My son is now gone.

At his memorial service, a close friend took me aside and said, “Jeff, one day after you’ve had some time to heal, maybe two or three years down the road, you’ll find a way to use this horrible event to help others. Maybe you will save someone else’s life.”   A seed was planted.

At his memorial service, a close friend took me aside and said, “Jeff, one day after you’ve had some time to heal, maybe two or three years down the road, you’ll find a way to use this horrible event to help others. Maybe you will save someone else’s life.” A seed was planted.

Three years later, I attended a local NEBA meeting where our sheriff, police chief, and state attorney shared stories about how youth crimes and suicides were increasing, attributing the heavy influence of online apps and video games. They emphasized how they contribute towards the downward spirals many of our youth experience today. This struck a chord. It was eerily like what I believe Joel experienced. Yikes

I asked if there was a website that help parents navigate these apps and games and provide resources to help them in the battle for our children’s well-being. The answer was a resounding “No…we do not know of one we can encourage parents to utilize.”  I mentioned I would attempt to develop a site to get this process on base.

It is an evolving process, so bear with us as time was of the essence in launching this site. This will be a race to keep up. Keep in mind that nothing in history has ever captured our youth’s focus even close to the level of the current apps and video games. Virtual reality gaming (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are about to step up once again. Expect them to be even more alluring, seductive, and addictive than what is currently mainstream.

    Online video games continually increase their intensity, action options, higher graphics.  Observe your children, be aware.

In candor, I did not know the level of addiction, violence, language, and pure energy that permeates these online video games. I welcome input from you as well. For when our youth move out, no one will be there to monitor activities and choices. What we have taught them earlier in life has to serve as their filter going forward.

So here it is, ParentDigitalAnswers.com.  The realization of that prescient remark at my son Joel’s memorial service on that painful day back in 2020.