#9983 This episode of 20/20 focuses on three families that struggle with the excessive use of technology. Video segments:
Fear of Missing Out (02:51)
Brooke, a California teenager, is a recovering social media addict. When her parents started to clamp down on her phone usage, she started creating multiple accounts and changed passwords.
Gaming Addiction (03:14)
Josh spends up to sixty hours a week playing first-person shooter video games. He reacts violently when his parents attempt to confiscate the router, WiFi, or his gaming computer. Kevin Roberts works with children who spend too much time in front of screens; he is the author of “Cyber Junkie” and “Get Off that Game Now.”
Negative Aspects of Gaming (02:56)
Chris spends his free time playing videos instead of spending time with his wife and children. Maria explains that Chris opts to not be present for family functions. He can spend up to 16 hours a day gaming.
Media Vulnerability (05:33)
Chris shows Vargas his collection of video games and paraphernalia; the father of four admits he has an addiction and would consider cutting back, but not eliminating gaming entirely. Brooke starts secretly sexting strangers; she suffers from ADD as well as attachment issues. After word spread on the internet of her risky behavior, Brooke wrote a suicide note and her parents had her committed to an institution.
Gaming and Brain Changes (01:59)
Josh starts skipping school and experiences depression. Al and Kristina took him to the Children’s Hospital of Michigan to participate in a study about gaming addiction coordinated by Dr. David Rosenberg. After Noah unplugged for three weeks to attend summer camp, his fMRI returned to normal levels.
Gaming Rehab (05:40)
Josh will spend several weeks camping in the Utah wilderness participating in the Unplugged program. Dr. Nick Kardaras visits Chris and Maria about Chris’ gaming addiction. Experts examine whether screen time is addictive; the DSM-5 includes internet gaming on its list of mental disorders.
Unplugged Program (02:29)
McKay Deveraux explains why he waved the normal fee so that Josh could attend the program; he hopes the time Josh spends camping will reset him neurologically and mentally. After seven weeks in the program, Josh realized he used video games to treat his anxiety and depression.
Loss and Digital Media (04:22)
Chris laments the loss of his video games and attends therapy for four hours every day. Brooke visits home and becomes depressed when she needs to give up her phone at night.
Road to Recovery (04:47)
Al and Kristina travel to the Utah wilderness and find their son using a bull roar. Josh makes fire without a using a match, acknowledges how his gaming addiction hurt his parents, and paints their faces.
Overcoming Digital Addiction (04:25)
Chris surprises Maria with a gift, flowers, and a card on her birthday. Josh’s fMRI show massive improvement since attending Unplugged; Brooke paints her room and returns to rehab to fix the underlying issues that led to her suicide note. “20/20” advocates no phones before a child is 10, no phones in the bedroom or at the dining room table, and media free family time.
Running time: 41 minutes. © 2017
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