Transcript for Excessive use of technology takes toll on families' relationships
Reporter: In Ohio, it's time to meet the man in the basement -- MARIA's husband Chris. Dad. Hi. Reporter: Chris comes home from work. It may or may not surprise you to know his job is I.T., servicing computers. When he walks in the door, it looks like any other Normal family. Okay. Go ahead and work on your problem now, all right? Reporter: But, his wife MARIA says, just watch. Doting dad is itching to disappear. I think I'm going to head down. I keep returning to this machine gun guy. I've played just terribly, dude. Reporter: Chris shows us his collection of obsessions. No fewer than 158 carefully organized games. This is where you game, huh? Yeah, matter of fact. Reporter: It's a nice setup. He tries to show me what all the excitement is about. I put you down quickly. You can remove yourself for an hour. Reporter: Or more. Or more. Reporter: Do you think you're addicted to those games? I'd say addiction is there. Reporter: Chris says he's considering cutting back. But quit for good? Never. I can't stop forever, that just seems like -- Reporter: Even though you know that it hurts your wife and your children? Every next thing I say sounds more and more like the scared addict. Reporter: In California, Brooke's parents say her phone and social media fixation opened a portal into a dark place. Her risky behavior escalated when she was just 11 and 12. Just hanging out with the wrong crowd, drugs, sex in middle school. Reporter: With that phone always in her hand, her parents wondered whether anyplace was safe. Okay, she's home, she's safe. But it was a complete false sense of security because she's up there in her room with her phone on the internet. Reporter: And as her parents later discover, sexting with strange men. I was up all night, sending pictures. Reporter: Of yourself? Mm-hmm. Reporter: To strangers? Yeah. When I did it and I got those compliments, I got that attention, and it just made me feel really good. Reporter: It's unnerving to listen to you tell me about how you fell into this world of secret sexting upstairs. Yeah. Reporter: You weren't safe. Not at all. Reporter: It's not just the phone and the internet. Brooke has A.D.D. And attachment issues. When you take a phone and social media and you put it in the hands of a teenager, and then throw in some mental illness, she just becomes very vulnerable. Reporter: But her parents don't realize just how vulnerable, until they get a knock on the door. We were blown out of the water when the police showed up at our house. Oh, my gosh. Reporter: Officers revealed what their little girl had been doing online. The men, the nude photos, all of it. You know people watching this are going to say, "Where were you?" Yeah. It was shocking. It was. I guess I thought of her just as a regular, everyday little girl growing up. Reporter: Word spread on social media about Brooke's mistakes. Bullied and shamed, she tried to numb the pain with drugs and alcohol. I think you used the word broken. Yeah. Reporter: Do you have any idea how you got that way? I think I just got to a point where I kept getting hurt, I kept doing things that I knew didn't make me happy. Reporter: And then an act of desperation. Brooke wrote a note on her phone, and somehow, by the grace of god, her parents say, it accidentally popped up on their shared iCloud account. I said, "What's that?" I opened it up and it was a suicide note. Reporter: A suicide note? What did you think reading that? I couldn't believe it. It was scary. I just got to a point where I just didn't even know why I was here and why I was still trying. Reporter: You mean why you were on Earth? Yeah, it just didn't make sense to me anymore. Reporter: They had Brooke committed to a hospital that night. That was it. That's when we knew -- That was it. We got to do something drastic. Reporter: The first thing the attendants took from her was her phone. Brookie wanted to like fight the nurse for it. I was like, "Don't touch me." I was pissed. The despise in her face for us. Betrayal. She was so -- but there was no other way. I just kept thinking, "You're not going to die on my watch." Reporter: In Michigan, Josh begins skipping school. He told me a couple times, "I'm going to be a gamer, and I can make a lot of money, mom. Believe me, I've got it all figured out." I was like, "This is not good." Reporter: And then, no more school. There's some things going on with his ADHD and then there was some underlying depression. So it wasn't just all the gaming. Reporter: Al and Christina are wondering what's going on inside Josh's head. If only there were a way to peek inside that adolescent brain. Well, it turns out, there is. Josh is getting a functional mri as part of a new study by Dr. David Rosenberg. His theory, yet to be proven -- excessive gaming may change brain activity. These triplets are in the study too. Turn it off, now. Stop, mom. You're still playing. I said I'm going to watch this, and then play outside with Josh. Reporter: That's Noah. You can see why his mom says gaming has more of a hold on him than on his brother and sister. These are the triplets' brain scans. Two are typical, but Noah is not. Dr. Rosenberg highlighted areas in red he says represent brain activity involving memory, attention and decision making. Noah's is almost completely gray. But now look at Noah's brain after three weeks unplugged at summer camp. He's gone from being barely lit up to being highly. He's highly lit up, yes. Reporter: Now for Josh's results. There should be much nor -- more activity. Reporter: You looked at this
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