'Fortnite and other addictive video games can have a similar effect on children’s brains as drug abuse or alcoholism, MRI scans reveal.
They show the “reward” system in the brains of young heavy users of social media and video games display the same changes in function and structure as those of alcoholics or drug addicts.
A series of studies by California State University found the impulsive part of the brain, known as the amygdala-striatal system, was not only more sensitive but also smaller in excessive users so that it processed the stimuli of social media or games faster.
The findings come as Britain’s children are gripped by the Fortnite video game, with one nine-year-old reportedly admitted to rehab after becoming so addicted she wet herself rather than leave the screen and primary schools urging parents to ban their children from playing them.
On Monday, the Daily Telegraph launched the Duty of Care campaign calling on ministers to make social media and online gaming companies subject to a statutory duty to protect children from harms such as addiction, bullying and grooming when using their services.
Ministers are considering new measures to rein in the worst excesses of online tech companies amid fears a generation of young people is being harmed by unregulated use of social media and online gaming platforms.
One leading internet addiction expert who has treated children playing the game said Fortnite’s addictive quality was such that it made Beatlemania look like a passing whim and had captivated the young in the same way as the nation was swept up by the “Princess Diana effect”.'
Read more: Addictive video games may change children's brains in the same way as drugs and alcohol, study reveals
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4 December 2018
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