Fortnite and other addictive video games can have a similar effect on children’s brains as drug abuse or alcoholism.

Research found 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, reports The Telegraph.

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 children around the world are obsessed 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.


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Primary schools are also urging parents to ban their children from playing them.

According to the studies led by Professor Ofir Turel, of California State University, the impact on the young’s brains is marked: “Say someone sees a video game or cellphone, this reward system in the brain lights up. It’s a very strong activation compared to other people.

“It is associated with structural change in that this brain area is smaller in people who are excessive users. The smaller system can process associations much faster. But like a car, you need to put more gas into it to generate more power.”

The risk that excessive usage could be changing children’s brain reward systems in the long term, making them more susceptible to other addictions later in life.

“The question is if you sensitise their reward system at a young age with video games and social media, does it increase their risk to become addicted to drugs or drink later in life?” said Professor Turel.

His initial research suggests there is an association between heavy video game users aged 13 to 15 and an increased likelihood of misusing at least one of 15 substances from cocaine to amphetamines.

A third study by his research team found the internet addiction also disrupted the connections between the left and right sides of young people’s brains. “When the tracks that connect these parts of the brain are not efficient, people are more prone to develop addictions,” said Professor Turel.

“There’s a much bigger risk factor for [addicted] children because their brains are flexible. Some parts of the brain develop until they are 17, others are not fully developed until they are 25.”

Like supplying kids with drugs!

Victoria Prooday shared her thoughts on Facebook writing, “Did you know that you are supplying DRUGS to your children?

“Your child is not just playing a ‘game’. Your child is playing an addictive and brain rewiring game which predisposes him to other addictions later on in life.

“It is heartbreaking! Today, 1 in 5 children has mental health problems. It is a huge societal tragedy. We are looking for reasons in the wrong places.

“The main reason is on our kids’ screens. Educate yourself and your children on the dangers of technology overuse for a developing brain and set LIMITS.”

Share your comments below.

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  • I think like anything its all about moderation.

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  • This is another worry on the growing list for parents. Especially hard if kids are home from school before parents get home from work.

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  • It’s not surprising. These games may be worse than other screen time, but in all honesty screen time should be at a minimum. Get out there with your kids, take them to the park, encourage imaginative play and fresh air!

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  • I agree that parents need to be responsible and accountable on all things screen-related. I’m thankful my son is past gaming and it never held his interst. But, I see many of my friends family where they feel defeated and it frustrates me. Parenting is a lifelong job. You can’t just pick and choose what you want to manage or push. This starts with parents allowing their children the luxury of gaming in any form and the rules and boundaries that should be afforded. We always set rules of no Wii or XBox during the week – only Friday evening to Sunday night. My son played it then sometimes, but understood the rules. Parents need to control the narrative and the situation.

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  • Parents must be more accountable at an early stage before the addiction sets it.

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  • I’ve only recently heard about Fortnite. I’m surprised so many parents allow their young children to play such games.

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  • I’m shocked at this. I know the kid was sneaking around after parents were in bed to play the game. But if the parents were aware of this, disconnect it so it can’t be used without supervision

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  • Fortnight’s seems to get a bad rap. The whole point of every video game ever created is to win and plays on the pleasure centres in kids brains.

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  • So important to keep an eyes on what are kids are playing. We should limit screen time indeed, check on what they’re playing and make sure our home environment is safe for our kids.

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  • I’ve never even heard of this game until yesterday. But how can parents not notice and not do something about young kids playing for hours at a time?

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  • I can see that some kids can become very addicted to some of these games. It started to happen to my grandson. My daughter was quick to nip it in the bud and restricted his ipad time and monitored his games and he stopped relying on it so much . I think we all have to be very careful how much time we allow our kids to play these games .

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  • This doesn’t surprise me very much.

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  • Everyone should be aware of the addictive nature of these games.

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  • The games are highly addictive for not only children but adults as well.

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