Transcript for Test could show the effect of gaming on your kid's brain
Our "Gma" cover story, a parenting alert about your chilled's brain on fortnite. The game's creator says more than 250 million people are playing it so we're taking a closer look at what -- how it could affect a child's mind. Becky Worley is here. Do we want to know the result. Good morning. Good question. You know, we've seen popular video games before. But fortnite, it just feels like something different. More compelling, more compulsive. But why? We used an fmri to look into a child's brain on fortnite to find out what may make it so tough to stop. 10-year-old cash loves fortnite. He plays every day. His mom says sometimes as much as five hours on weekend days. That he doesn't want to go on play dates because he'd rather play fortnite with friends online and the game is the first thing he thinks about in the morning. He would definitely choose to do fortnite over most things. Is there anything you'd rather do than play fortnite? That's a good question. Um, no. Reporter: He says sometimes he plays so long that -- When you're lightheaded and can't get enough fortnite but it hurts inside. Reporter: It has 250 million players and while it doesn't report hours played daily parents are at wit's end. How much do you think he's spent in game. Thousands. I no longer pay him allowance in dollars but in bucks. They have a recipe to make you want to keep playing. I just killed it. Completing challenges. At the end of those various challenges you level up and earn rewards. Cosmetic items that you can show of. Reporter: To see what happens in his brain when he's playing fortnite we head to the Marcus institute of integrate tiff health at Jefferson health and Andrew Newberg if we'll put a helmet on you. Reporter: He uses an fmri machine. How does it respond to three thing, random visuals with color and motion, a similarly violent video game from a few years back and then to fortnite. So hopefully we'll get a good picture of how these game as feck the brain and alsohow there's a difference between the two different games. Reporter: Cash will do this exercise but as a comparison his schoolmate 12-year-old Amato will go through the same process. One big difference, Amato doesn't play fortnite. It's one of those games where you kill each other and I just -- I am not interested in the game. Reporter: He prefers race car games and reading about sports. Amato watches video of the birds and the older game and then fortnite. I enjoyed the one with the flying birds. You liked the birds better. Sounds good. Nice job. Reporter: Now it's cash's turn in the fmri machine. Not much activity with bird answer the older game but fortnite, Dr. Knewburg says it was a different story than his schoolmate. What lit up? So the area that really lit up is a dopamine area of the brain. Reporter: You can see cash's brain on the left. Amato's on the right. Watching fortnite the doctor said cash's brain had much greater activation than Amato's did in the an tear Yo cingulate. For some it can be associated with addiction. They are involved in our reward system of the brain. Reporter: He says gaming addiction is a real disorder but gaming has also though been proven to improve visual and sparnl awareness and while the reward centers of cash's brain are lit up, none of this is predictive of addictive behaviors. Just because we see a dopamine area lighting up in the gamer we saw today, that doesn't inherently mean that the person has an addiction. What it mines is that it's affecting the areas of the brain that are involved in that. We ultimately have to find out how they're doing as a person. Reporter: Cash by all accounts is doing well in school and in other areas of his life but for his mom even this rough association is scary. How does that make you want to alter or adjust cash's playing because what I witnessed is an incredibly patient, polite, functional kid who is obsessed with fortnite. It's a big deal. I think everything in moderation and I don't know what moderation is with fortnite. Moderation with fortnite. We reached out to the makers of the game but they declined to comment. Dr. Newburg says more research is needed and cash's mom, rusty, has put time limits on his gaming, 30 minutes on school days. No more than three hours each So what is it about this game? What is it about fortnite? Yeah, you know, this game in particular has kids so hooked, right? Many experts that I spoke with say the sophistication of the game is in play. It's really good at random rewards. Think of a slot machine when you play the game, you find loot, weapons, it's like Christmas to there's the social aspect. They talk to their friends plus it's mobile, right? It goes anywhere and everywhere with them. So what should we and parents in particular take away when they see those brain scans of cash? Yeah, I mean, the thing is is he is really dealing with brain chemistry. It's not really about self-regulation at a certain point asking your kids to know when to stop playing is probably unrealistic. You, the parent, need to tell them when it's time to take a break. Thank you. Thank you for saying that. Thank you. I mean, I got -- Becky, I know you're a parent. I got to tell you looking at the audience during the piece and they were just going like where is the parents' responsibility in this as well? I mean, you've got to take a little ownership in that, don't you think? It's a tough conversation and parents don't like being the bad guy but this is a place where boundaries are equated to love and care. That's right. Thank you for that, Becky. We appreciate it.
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