Posts Tagged ‘addiction’

‘Fortnite’ has become a money laundering paradise

January 19, 2019

The virtual currency used by millions of gamers who play “Fortnite” has become popular with money laundering cybercriminals, according to reports.

Money launderers use stolen credit cards to purchase V-bucks – which players use to purchase weapons, outfits and other items in the wildly popular game – from the “Fortnite” store and then resell them on the dark web.

Agents with the cybersecurity firm Sixgill posed as customers and uncovered operations being conducted globally in Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Arabic and English.

“Criminals are executing carding fraud and getting money in and out of the Fortnite system with relative impunity,” said Benjamin Preminger, a senior intelligence analyst at Sixgill.

“Threat actors [a malicious person or entity] are scoffing at Epic Games’ weak security measures, saying that the company doesn’t seem to care about players defrauding the system and purchasing discounted V-bucks … This directly touches on the ability of threat actors to launder money through the game,” he continued.

Bitcoin and other lesser coins, including ethereum and XRP do the trick. (AFP)

The Independent noted one example of a seller who accepted bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash as payment who claimed to be selling at a discount and wanted “to give back to the deep web at a massive discounted rate.”

Epic Games, the North Carolina-based developer of “Fortnite,” told the Hollywood Reporter it takes the money laundering claims seriously.

“Epic Games takes these issues seriously, as chargebacks and fraud put our players and our business at risk,” a company spokesperson said. “As always, we encourage players to protect their accounts by turning on two-factor authentication, not re-using passwords and using strong passwords, and not sharing account information with others.”

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Some security experts have said the company isn’t doing enough to monitor how its products are being used.

“Epic Games doesn’t seem to clamp down in any serious way on criminal activity surrounding Fortnite, money laundering or otherwise,” Preminger said, adding that “several steps could be taken to mitigate the phenomenon, including monitoring the transfer of high-value goods in the game, identifying players with large stockpiles of V-bucks, and sharing data with relevant law enforcement agencies.”

Epic Games did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment early Friday regarding the accusations of illegal activity on its platforms.

The immensely popular game is free to download and play and has around 200 million players worldwide. It has generated upwards of $3 billion in revenue, the Reporter said.

Between September and October, IT security firm Zerofox found 53,000 instances of online scams related to the video game.

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Three Boys Explain Why They Play Fortnite Every Chance They Get

Three Boys Explain Why They Play Fortnite Every Chance They Get
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Compared to other species, including our closest relatives, chimpanzees, the brain takes up much more body weight in human beings. Photo: iStockphoto

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  (December 18, 2018)

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Masculinity Isn’t a Sickness — Much of modern culture is toxic to the human brain

January 17, 2019

A denial of biology in the American Psychological Association’s new report on men and boys.

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In my practice as a psychotherapist, I’ve seen an increase of depression in young men who feel emasculated in a society that is hostile to masculinity. New guidelines from the American Psychological Association defining “traditional masculinity” as a pathological state are likely only to make matters worse.

True, over the past half-century ideas about femininity and masculinity have evolved, sometimes for the better. But the APA guidelines demonize masculinity rather than embracing its positive aspects. In a press release, the APA asserts flatly that “traditional masculinity—marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression—is, on the whole, harmful.” The APA claims that masculinity is to blame for the oppression and abuse of women.

The report encourages clinicians to evaluate masculinity as an evil to be tamed, rather than a force to be integrated. “Although the majority of young men may not identify with explicit sexist beliefs,” it states, “for some men, sexism may become deeply engrained in their construction of masculinity.” The association urges therapists to help men “identify how they have been harmed by discrimination against those who are gender nonconforming”—an ideological claim transformed into a clinical treatment recommendation.

The truth is that masculine traits such as aggression, competitiveness and protective vigilance not only can be positive, but also have a biological basis. Boys and men produce far more testosterone, which is associated biologically and behaviorally with increased aggression and competitiveness. They also produce more vasopressin, a hormone originating in the brain that makes men aggressively protective of their loved ones.

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The same goes for feminine traits such as nurturing and emotional sensitivity. Women produce more oxytocin when they nurture their children than men, and the hormone affects men and women differently. Oxytocin makes women more sensitive and empathic, while men become more playfully, tactually stimulating with their children, encouraging resilience. These differences between men and women complement each other, allowing a couple to nurture and challenge their offspring.

Modern society is also too often derisive toward women who embrace their biological tendencies, labeling them abnormal or unhealthy. Women who choose to stay home with their children can feel harshly judged, contributing to postpartum conflict, anxiety and depression.

What’s unhealthy isn’t masculinity or femininity but the demeaning of masculine men and feminine women. The first of the new APA guidelines urges psychologists “to recognize that masculinities are constructed based on social, cultural, and contextual norms,” as if biology had nothing to do with it. Another guideline explicitly scoffs at “binary notions of gender identity as tied to biology.”

From a mental-health perspective, it can be beneficial for women to embrace masculine traits and for men to express feminine ones. Every person will have some mix of the two. But that doesn’t change the reality that women tend to be feminine and men tend to be masculine. Why can’t the APA acknowledge biology while seeing femininity and masculinity on a spectrum?

To be sure, the cult of manhood can be harmful when taken to extremes. Teaching boys—or girls, for that matter—that they should always be stoic, keep their feelings inside and never allow themselves to be vulnerable is a recipe for mental illness. But so is telling boys that aggression, competitiveness and protectiveness is a sign of sickness. The same is true of telling girls that their desire to nurture children is shameful.

We will probably never return to rigid sex roles, and maybe we shouldn’t. But it’s wrong to devalue the important and positive differences between men and women that have complemented and enriched our relationships for tens of thousands of years.

Ms. Komisar is a psychoanalyst and author of “Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters.” She is working on a book about the challenges of raising adolescents in an age of anxiety.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/masculinity-isnt-a-sickness-11547682809

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Compared to other species, including our closest relatives, chimpanzees, the brain takes up much more body weight in human beings. Photo: iStockphoto

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  (December 18, 2018)

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‘It’s about time’: Facebook faces first lawsuit from U.S. regulators after Cambridge Analytica scandal

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2018/12/19/dc-attorney-general-sues-facebook-over-alleged-privacy-violations-cambridge-analytica-scandal/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.0a7f6680eccd

Cambridge Analytica, the political firm, sought to create “psychographic” profiles about social-media users — using their Facebook data — and target them with messages that preyed on their hopes and fears.

Teens insist social media makes them feel better: poll

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“Maybe I did a better job because I’m good with the Twitter”

 

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Young people

The study found widespread apprehension about the future. Seeking intimacy? Or isolation?

Morning Prayer for Friday, January 11, 2019 — Seeking God’s Will and Guidance — Meditation

January 11, 2019

I will pray only for strength and that God’s will be done — I will strive for consciousness of God’s presence

Meditation: To leave it out of one’s daily life is to miss the very purpose of living.

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When we were drinking most of us never thought of helping others. We liked to buy drinks for people, because that made us feel like big shots. But we only used others for our own pleasure. To really go out and try to help somebody who needed help never occurred to us. To us, helping others looked like a sucker’s game. But when we came into A.A., we began to try to help others. And we found out that helping others made us happy and also helped us to stay sober. Have I learned that there is happiness in helping others?

Meditation for the Day

I will pray only for strength and that God’s will be done. I will use God’s unlimited store of strength for my needs. I will seek God’s will for me. I will strive for consciousness of God’s presence, for He is the light of the world. I have become a pilgrim, who needs only marching orders and strength and guidance for this day.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may seek God’s guidance day by day. I pray that I may strive to abide in God’s presence.

From Twenty Four Hours a Day

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  (Joyful anticipation of the future)

Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre de Caussade

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Conscious Contact with God – The Mindful Path of the Spiritually Awakened

The power of prayer and meditation in recovery is often extolled as essential in recovery circles, at least in those that embrace spirituality as the central theme toward healing. Prayer remains the predominant, spiritual power-tool of choice for those attempting to build a structure of spiritual recovery. It is a major proposal found in almost all religious denominations and there is certainly no shortage of prayer in the Twelve Step presentation, “Alcoholics Anonymous.”

Most people in recovery are familiar with some of the “Big Books’” prayers. In fact, I have all of the Twelve prayers toStep gether [1]if you like and highly recommend them to every newcomer starting out.

Like many other recovered alcoholics and addicts in long-term recovery, I have several decades of experience to draw upon for information. In the over thirty years of living personal trials, including egregious errors as well as spectacular successes, I have discovered that nothing comes close to the life altering effects of conscious contact with God through practicing meditation. [2]

No human activity renders one more useful to God and to his fellow man than living awake, aware and God conscious. In this brief article I am going to attempt to convince you that this is true, then point you to a direct source. Hopefully that will also answer the question, “How.”

Obsession Is A Spiritual Dysfunction

I work with a lot of alcoholics and addicts, not in clinical courses of treatment, of course, but from the spiritual angle. That is where the true source of the malady lies. Since the obsession, that causes addictions and alcoholism is found in spiritual dysfunction, it takes discovering the remedy for the ailing spirit to remove that heinous desire to drink or drug. In the course of that discovery we always get around to discussing conscious contact with God. How to get it. How to improve it and how the failure to make progress results in losing it.

How Can You Explain Conscious Contact With God?

They want to know what “conscious contact with God?” is. They want it explained to them. I mean, if I live a life that is continuously improving it, then surely I must be able to explain it, right? I can explain it about as well as I can explain what vanilla tastes like. That’s all anyone can do, and it just doesn’t quite do the experience justice. You have to sample it yourself to really know. What I can tell you, is where and how to find some. Then, once experienced, no explanations are necessary.

Consciousness of this order isn’t something to know. It is something to experience. Recovery is not a course of study that can be memorized like school lessons. It is a liberated way of living in the stream of experiences we call life.

Simple consciousness is nothing more than being aware of your thoughts. In each moment during the day that you are awake and aware, everything changes. Your present, your future. You are no longer making decisions but moving through each new moment effortlessly without deciding. There is no need to become involved in decision making because each new option before you becomes clear. It is a confident lifestyle. This simple consciousness, when combined with a yearning and willingness to contact God is something else altogether.

Connection Guides Our Lives And Our Sobriety

The idea of establishing a deliberate connection with a Supreme Being for the purposes of receiving guidance and direction is a widely held spiritual goal, shared by many, including the co-authors of “Alcoholics Anonymous.” Once awakened and free of their deadly obsession, they propose three ideas designed to maintain that conscious state:

  • Continue to enlarge the spiritual life,
  • Improve conscious contact with God, and
  • Grow along spiritual lines.

Not very concrete expressions are they? Rather ambiguous one might say. Enough so that students of spirituality have a very rough time trying to wrap their heads around it. Yet, the simple implication throughout the twelve-step method is clear: That an alcoholic can seek all the self-help, self-knowledge and human aid he can afford to access in the treatment of his condition – but unless he does all of these three critical things, his sobriety will not endure. He may relapse and perhaps die.

An ominous warning for sure and yet there is a powerfully positive side to this message. There is also the proposal of hope – that through these three ideas, relapse of an abstinent alcoholic or addict is virtually impossible. These are not merely interesting or optional concepts. In fact, they sound like something that the sufferer will need to do to survive his maladies.

Putting Step 11 Into Context

The good news here is that these ideas are not complicated at all and are interchangeable terms, amazingly simple to attain and can be wrapped up into one experience. Then understanding them at a deep level becomes automatic.

They each refer to a spiritual awakening event, an event that each 12-step practitioner is supposed to experience as he goes through the progression of activities designed to induce it. The Step 11 idea isn’t to seek conscious contact God, but to improve upon conscious contact with Him already established. The step assumes you already have it.

If all three mean the same thing, then for succinctness let’s pick one. Let’s pick the term actually used in Step Eleven, “Conscious Contact.” It’s the great catchall term and synonymous with “Spiritual Awakening. “ Being spiritually awake is conscious contact with God.

Until one is immersed into the Twelve Step spiritual way of life, it can be a surprise to learn that the goal of the steps is not to stop using and drinking. It is to have a spiritual awakening, establishing a conscious contact with God. Once that happens, the obsessive desire to drink or drug subsequently falls away. Then if the addict/alcoholic establishes a lifestyle that takes his initial awakening and improves upon it, bringing that state forward into each day, not only is there no chance of relapse, but his usefulness and personal attitude strengthens as time goes on.

Continue, Improve, And Grow

But what if the recovered alcoholic or addict doesn’t change much beyond that momentous event? It behooves the addict to remain awakened, if not for the sheer joy of living, then at least so the errors of his past do not re-emerge and wreak havoc on his life all over again. Once the initial spiritual awakening occurs, the trick becomes holding on to it by improving it.

Continue, Improve and Grow—these are the active expressions for spiritual awakening – or simply put, “God consciousness.” This is not merely an activity of convenience – something to do once or twice a day or when the going gets tough. It is a psychic state of being carried all throughout the day, every day for the rest of our lives. Our human existence is dependent upon it. We cannot live well now or at all in the future without it.

Why Emphasize Meditation? 

Why all this emphasis on meditation? When I write about “conscious contact with God,” I write about meditation because that is what I am all about. I am a one trick pony in this regard. When conscious contact with God is established, there is nothing else to worry about. Not any old conscious contact. There is conscious contact with self, with one’s own imagination and thoughts. I am not talking about that kind of consciousness. I am talking about conscious contact with the Supreme Being. That is the only kind that counts.

Conscious contact with God isn’t only for Twelve Steppers. Anyone needing to overcome any obsessive addiction, whether a substance or behavior, will find the solution to their problems the very moment they establish a God connection.

People have been seeking the path to discovering God long before the invention of the Twelve Steps. They have also been having spiritual awakenings—whether by divine vision, or even blinding bolts of lightning striking them in the head, does it really matter?

Although there are many practices called meditation, not all are the same. The meditation I use[3] is a simple ancient practice of pulling back out of the stream of thought and becoming separated from thoughts so that consciousness can return from where thought has taken it. It is mindful but non-religious, non-contemplative and most importantly—it works. With nothing added and with nothing left out—too simple for many people, but when done correctly the results are drastic and life altering.

Liberation From The Bondage Of Self

When we become conscious and freed from the sleeping state in which the world has driven us, where the force of resentment – hate, fear and frustration enters in to nourish and inflate an insatiable ego-self—we are instantly liberated from the bondage of self. Right then. Right there. No waiting. In that moment, our problems begin to drop away.

It is true that the elimination of drinking is “only a beginning.” Continuing to live in the God conscious, awakened state allows us to remain free from anger, gaining mastery over resentment.

In my case, I’ve been relieved from all my obsessions—not only the one which presents in an insane desire to drink but all obsessive behaviors, even those involving food, sex, drugs like nicotine and a host of others. Attention deficit disorder, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, obesity, smoking, drinking, major depression, anxiety and other dysfunctions are all gone.

Peace of mind can be experienced

There is wonderful, personal peace of mind—with a security, stability and happiness that I share with my family. I wish there was a way to adequately convey the ease of living and joy that comes to me and my wife Nancy as we raise our physically, emotionally, mentally fit kids, but I cannot. Like vanilla, like God consciousness, like spiritual awakening—these must experienced for yourself.

Practicing conscious contact with God and improving it as we go along certainly does a good deal more than eliminating a booze problem. And practice means meditation. To leave it out of one’s daily life is to miss the very purpose of living.

Reference Sources: [1] http://recoveredalcoholic.blogspot.com/2010/08/each-24.html

[2] http://stepelevencomesalive.blogspot.com/2013/03/real-meditation-for-real-alcoholics.html

[3] http://stepelevencomesalive.blogspot.com/2013/03/real-meditation-for-real-alcoholics.html

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About the author: danny j schwarzhoff is a father, husband, author and prolific blogger. He likes steak, bananas, The New York Yankees, a perfect cup of black tea and just being Dad. A native of Queens, New York City, Danny currently lives on Cape Cod with his wife Nancy and their two teenage children. Email him at Pendum [at] dannyschwarzhoff [dot] net or just Google “recovered alcoholic” to find his other stuff.

https://addictionblog.org/spirit/conscious-contact-with-god/

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Deepak Chopra in Beverly Hills, Calif.
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Morning Prayer for Tuesday, January 8, 2019 — God’s Help Allows Us To Welcome Difficulties

January 8, 2019

I know that my new life will not be immune from difficulties, but I will have peace even in difficulties. I know that serenity is the result of faithful, trusting acceptance of God’s will, even in the midst of difficulties. Saint Paul said: “Our light afflictions, which are but for a moment, work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may welcome difficulties. I pray that they may test my strength and build my character.

From: Twenty Four Hours a day

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“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

—Matthew 11:25-30

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“The chains that break you, are the chains that make you. And the chains that make you, are the chains you break.”

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Father Flanagan and Boys Town – He Ain’t Heavy He’s my Brother

https://noyeshome.org/blog/father-flanagan-and-boys-town-he-aint-heavy-hes-my-brother/

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What Advocates of Legalizing Pot Don’t Want You to Know

January 5, 2019

The wave toward legalization ignores the serious health risks of marijuana.

By Alex Berenson

Mr. Berenson is the author of a forthcoming book on marijuana use.

Marijuana seems to be on an unstoppable march to legalization in the United States.

New York and New Jersey are racing to join the 10 states that already allow recreational use of cannabis. Some 65 percent of Americans favor legalization, and several potential Democratic candidates for president support ending federal prohibitions on marijuana.

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This huge shift in public attitudes comes even though most Americans do not use the drug. Only 15 percent of people over 12 used it even once in 2017, according to a large federal survey. That year, only three million people tried it for the first time.

Instead, the change has been largely driven by decadeslong lobbying by marijuana legalization advocates and for-profit cannabis companies.

Those groups have shrewdly recast marijuana as a medicine rather than an intoxicant. Some have even claimed that marijuana can help slow the opioid epidemic, though studies show that people who use cannabis are more likely to start using opioids later.

Meanwhile, legalization advocates have squelched discussion of the serious mental health risks of marijuana and THC, the chemical responsible for the drug’s psychoactive effects. As I have seen firsthand in writing a book about cannabis, anyone who raises those concerns may be mocked as a modern-day believer in “Reefer Madness,” the notorious 1936 movie that portrays young people descending into insanity and violence after smoking marijuana.

A strange disconnect has resulted.

With large studies in peer-reviewed journals showing that marijuana increases the risk of psychosis and schizophrenia, the scientific literature around the drug is far more negative than it was 20 years ago. Comparing two major reports from the National Academy of Medicine, the nonprofit group that advises the federal government on health and medicine, makes the difference clear.

In a report in 1999, the academy (then called the Institute of Medicine) reported that “the association between marijuana and schizophrenia is not well understood.” It even suggested the drug might help some people with schizophrenia. But in its next major report on marijuana, released in 2017, the academy reached a very different conclusion: “Cannabis use is likely to increase the risk of schizophrenia and other psychoses; the higher the use, the greater the risk.”

Yet the change in the scientific consensus has gone unnoticed. Americans in general are far more likely to believe the drug is safe, and even medically beneficial, than they once were. As a result, support for legalization has doubled since 1999.

Making matters worse, the ways Americans use cannabis are changing in ways that further increase its risks.

Many older Americans remember marijuana as a relatively weak drug that they used casually in social settings like concerts. They’re not wrong. In the 1970s and 1980s, marijuana generally contained less than 5 percent THC. Today, the marijuana sold at legal dispensaries often contains 25 percent THC. Many people use extracts that are nearly pure THC. As a comparison, think of the difference between a beer and a martini.

And though legalization hasn’t led to a big increase in Americans trying the drug, it has meant that those people who already use it do so far more frequently. In 2005, about three million Americans used cannabis every day. Today, the figure is eight million. Put another way, about one cannabis user in five uses it daily. By contrast, only one in every 15 drinkers, about 12 million Americans, consumes alcohol every day.

Scientists must do much more research to understand how cannabis can cause psychosis, and the strength of the link. But hospitals are already seeing the effect of these new use patterns. According to the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, in 2006, emergency rooms saw 30,000 cases of people who had diagnoses of psychosis and marijuana-use disorder — the medical term for abuse or dependence on the drug. By 2014, that number had tripled to 90,000.

Federal surveys also show that rates of serious mental illness are rising nationally, with the sharpest increase among people 18 to 25, who are also the most likely to use cannabis. The surveys and hospital data cannot prove that marijuana has caused a population-wide increase in psychosis, but they do offer intriguing evidence.

I am not a prohibitionist. I don’t believe we should jail people for possessing marijuana. But the advocacy community has sharply overstated the level of marijuana-related incarceration.

Many people are arrested for marijuana possession, but very few end up imprisoned. California reported in 2013, the most recent year for which this data is available, that only 441 of its 134,000 prisoners were incarcerated for all marijuana-related crimes. If arrests for marijuana possession are a major racial justice concern, the solution is decriminalizing possession, turning it into a violation equivalent to littering.

But advocacy groups don’t view decriminalization as an acceptable compromise. They want full legalization, making marijuana a state-regulated and -taxed drug that businesses can sell and profit from.

States that allow recreational marijuana have found that legalization doesn’t end the black market in unregulated cannabis. But it does lower prices, increase availability and acceptability, and drive up use.

Worse — because marijuana can cause paranoia and psychosis, and those conditions are closely linked to violence — it appears to lead to an increase in violent crime. Before recreational legalization began in 2014, advocates promised that it would reduce violent crime. But the first four states to legalize — Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington — have seen sharp increases in murders and aggravated assaults since 2014, according to reports from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Police reports and news articles show a clear link to cannabis in many cases.

As Americans consider making marijuana a legal drug, it would be wise to remember the choices that fueled the devastating opioid epidemic. Decades ago, many of the same people pressing for marijuana legalization argued that the risks of opioid addiction could be easily managed.

A half-million deaths later, we have learned how wrong they were.

Marijuana’s risks are different from opioids’, but they are no less real. Let’s remember that hard truth as we listen to promises that allowing the use of this drug will do no harm.

Alex Berenson, a former New York Times reporter, is the author of the forthcoming “Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence.”

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on FacebookTwitter (@NYTopinion) andInstagram.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A19 of the New York edition with the headline: Don’t Ignore the Risks of Pot.
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Pakistan to start advertisement campaign on dangers of using drugs

January 4, 2019
The Supreme Court last year took suo motu notice of the use of drugs in private as well as government educational institutions. — File
The Supreme Court last year took suo motu notice of the use of drugs in private as well as government educational institutions. — File

He directed all four provincial chief secretaries, the in-charge of the anti-narcotics division, and secretaries of other relevant ministries to call a meeting and devise an action plan within a week.

The development comes a day after the Punjab government decided to launch a campaign against narcotics in schools. “A special campaign will be launched in educational institutions to save them from narcotics and a committee has been constituted to work on this issue,” Punjab Schools Education Minister Murad Raas said at a meeting with private school owners on Thursday.

“The National Action Plan was enforced to tackle terrorism; similarly, a plan should be made against drugs,” said Justice Ijazul Ahsan during today’s hearing, equating the dangerous affects of drugs on the young generation to the impact of terrorism.

The hearing was adjourned for a week.

A civil society member, Abdullah Malik, had last year submitted his application before the chief justice during a hearing of human rights cases at the Lahore registry of the Supreme Court.

Malik has said easy availability of drugs in educational institutions was destroying the lives of students while the government took no action. He said the Punjab government had committed criminal negligence by not launching a crackdown on drug peddlers. He said the future of the country would be at risk if the students were not rescued from the menace of drugs.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1455441

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‘Tech addicts’ seek solace in 12 steps and treatment at Seattle-area rehab hub

December 27, 2018

We like to say we’re addicted to our phones or an app or some new show on a streaming video service.

But for some people, tech gets in the way of daily functioning and self-care. We’re talking flunk-your-classes, can’t-find-a-job, live-in-a-dark-hole kinds of problems, with depression, anxiety and sometimes suicidal thoughts part of the mix.

Suburban Seattle, a major tech center, has now become a hub for help for so-called “tech addicts,” with residential rehab, psychologists who specialize in such treatment, and 12-step meetings, the AP reports.

“The drugs of old are now repackaged. We have a new foe,” Cosette Rae says of the barrage of tech. Rae heads a Seattle area rehab center called reSTART Life, one of the few residential programs in the nation specializing in tech addiction.

'I'm Addicted to Tech': Inside a 12-Step Meeting for the Internet
Martha Irvine/AP
In this Dec. 8, 2018, photo, young men gather to talk after a 12-step meeting for Internet & Tech Addiction Anonymous in Bellevue, Wash. The meeting is run much like other 12-step meetings for addicts, but the focus is video games, devices and internet content that has become a life-harming distraction. The Seattle area has become a hub for treatment of extreme tech use.

Use of that word — addiction — when it comes to devices, online content and the like is still debated in the mental health world. But many practitioners agree that tech use is increasingly intertwined with the problems of those seeking help.

An American Academy of Pediatrics review of worldwide research found that excessive use of video games alone is a serious problem for as many as 9 percent of young people. This summer, the World Health Organization also added “gaming disorder” to its list of afflictions. A similar diagnosis is being considered in the United States.

It can be a taboo subject in an industry that frequently faces criticism for using “persuasive design,” intentionally harnessing psychological concepts to make tech all the more enticing.

One 27-year-old man, found through a 12-step program for tech addicts, works in the very industry that peddles the games, videos and other online content that has long been his vice. He does cloud maintenance for a suburban Seattle tech company and constantly finds himself fending off temptation.

“I’m like an alcoholic working at a bar,” he laments. He spoke on the condition that he not be identified, fearing he might harm his career in an industry he’s long loved.

As a toddler, he sat on his dad’s lap in their Seattle area home as they played simple video games on a Mac Classic II computer. By early elementary school, he got his first Super Nintendo system and spent hours playing “Yoshi’s Story,” a game where the main character searched for “lucky fruit.”

As he grew, so did one of the world’s major tech hubs. Led by Microsoft, it rose from the nondescript suburban landscape and farm fields here, just a short drive from the home he still shares with his mom, who split from her husband when their only child was 11.

As a teen, he took an interest in music and acting but recalls how playing games increasingly became a way to escape life. “I go online instead of dealing with my feelings,” he says.

He’d been seeing a therapist for depression and severe social anxiety. But attending college out of state allowed more freedom and less structure, so he spent even more time online. His grades plummeted, forcing him to change majors, from engineering to business.

After graduating in 2016 and moving home, he’d go to a nearby restaurant or the library to use the Wi-Fi, claiming he was looking for a job but having no luck.

Instead, he was spending hours on Reddit, an online forum where people share news and comments, or viewing YouTube videos. Sometimes, he watched online porn.

Others who attend a 12-step meeting of the Internet & Tech Addiction Anonymous know the struggle.

“I had to be convinced that this was a ‘thing,’ ” says Walker, a 19-year-old from Washington whose parents insisted he get help after video gaming trashed his first semester of college. He agreed to speak only if identified by first name, as required by the 12-step tenets.

Help is found at facilities like reSTART. Clients “detox” from tech at a secluded ranch and move on to a group home.

They commit to eating well and regular sleep and exercise. They find jobs, and many eventually return to college. They also make “bottom line” promises to give up video games or any other problem content, as well as drugs and alcohol, if those are issues. They use monitored smartphones with limited function — calls, texts and emails and access to maps.

The young tech worker didn’t go to reSTART. But he, too, has apps on his phone that send reports about what he’s viewing to his 12-step sponsor, a fellow tech addict named Charlie, a 30-year-old reSTART graduate.

At home, the young man also persuaded his mom to get rid of Wi-Fi to lessen the temptation.

He still relapses every couple months, often when he’s tired or upset or very bored. He tells himself that his problem isn’t as bad as other tech addicts.

“Then,” the young man says, “I discover very quickly that I am actually an addict, and I do need to do this.”

Having Charlie to lean on helps. “He’s a role model,” he says.

“He has a place of his own. He has a dog. He has friends.”

That’s what he wants for himself.

Associated Press

Related:

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Peace and Freedom comment; Everyone encounters physical and mental changes as they age. It is part of life. Human beings always have choices and today, there is always medical care. We don’t judge anybody. But we reject the ideas that some problems are too tough for humans to encounter and we reject the idea that suicide is a solution.
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 (Those words, spoken to an advocate of sex, drugs and rock and role, changed everything)

Deaths from alcohol overuse continue to climb

December 24, 2018

Alcohol misuse accounted for 35,823 deaths in 2017, an increase of nearly 46 percent over almost two decades, according to a Washington Examiner analysis of mortality data.

The data, which come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, show that alcohol-related deaths have climbed steadily from the 19,469 deaths recorded in 1999. Deaths from misusing alcohol did not decline at any time since that period, and they included not only alcohol poisonings but also alcoholic liver disease and cirrhosis. They do not include deaths from accidents people have while they are drinking, because in these instances, the cause of death would be drowning, a car accident, or a fall.

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Deaths from such heavy drinking patterns are contributing to the lower life expectancy trend that has been observed in the U.S. in recent years, an issue compounded by opioid overdose deaths and suicides. These alcohol deaths are still lower than those caused by opioids such as heroin, which were responsible for 47,600 deaths in 2017, and suicides, which accounted for 47,173 deaths. When combined with deaths from accidents where people have been drinking, however, they climb to 88,000 deaths a year, federal reports show.

“I consider alcohol the elephant in the room when it comes to the drug abuse issues that have been surfacing,” said Dr. George Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

The latest data assembled by the Washington Examiner, obtained through the CDC’s Wide-ranging OnLine Data for Epidemiologic Research, adds to recent studies on mortality by the CDC.

It’s unclear what is behind the factors driving lower life expectancy. Scholars have dubbed the phenomenon “deaths of despair,” noting mortality is rising particularly among whites in rural areas who have no more than a high school education. Princeton economists and spouses Anne Case and Angus Deaton have raised the possibility that deaths are tied to mental health issues, economic uncertainty, and physical pain.

The data pulled from the CDC show that alcohol deaths were highest among people between the ages of 50 to 64 and that men were more than twice as likely to die from alcohol misuse than women were. The number of deaths among whites were significantly higher than any other race, but rates of death were highest among American Indians or Alaska Natives.

In recent years, the statistics show that alcoholic liver disease has been primarily responsible for the increases in chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, according to the CDC. But with alcohol poisoning data, sometimes opioids or another drug such as Valium are also involved as contributing to the death, even though alcohol is considered the underlying factor, the CDC has said.

“The population is aging; people are taking more pills, but they don’t know you can’t drink on top of these pills, which becomes a lethal combination,” Koob said.

The latest information comes amid positive outcomes on alcohol in other areas. Additional federal data show underage drinking has reached record lows and that alcohol use disorders have been declining since 2002 among all age groups. Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities now account for 29 percent of overall driving deaths, the lowest percentage since 1982.

But studies on mortality have caught the attention of public health officials domestically and globally. There is widespread disagreement about how to reverse the trend of deaths tied to alcohol, in part because it is a legal product that many people consume in moderate amounts. U.S. dietary guidelines say that moderate drinking for those of legal drinking age can be part of a healthy diet, which means up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

“One of the challenges is that we in our institute are dealing with a legal drug that is everywhere, where 70 percent of Americans participate in drinking at one time or another, and most don’t have a problem,” Koob said. “That fact alone is a real challenge for our institute. We have to be careful about not exaggerating one side or another.”

The World Health Organization has urged countries to implement alcohol restrictions including marketing bans, tax increases, and reducing where or when alcohol can be sold. Koob pointed to a recent report from the surgeon general suggesting communities could consider such policies to curb addiction.

“It’s pretty well-established that if you increase the cost of alcohol it decreases consumption, and if you decrease availability in any manner, shape, or form it will decrease consumption,” he said.

The alcohol industry opposes these types of restrictions and instead supports other approaches to tackling problem drinking that wouldn’t affect people who consume only moderately. They note that prohibitions on alcohol have worsened the issue in the past and that small businesses would be damaged by certain proposals.

“The important thing is that people separate problem drinkers, heavy drinkers, and binge drinkers from moderate and social drinkers,” said Jackson Shedelbower, spokesman for the American Beverage Institute, a trade group that represents restaurants.

The group supports the use of ignition airlocks devices or Breathalyzers in cars for those with high blood alcohol content and repeat offenders. They also support a 24/7 sobriety program, in which people with alcohol problems must take a breath test to show they are sober.

The Distilled Spirits Council supports CDC guidance that directs more doctors to talk to their patients about their drinking patterns.

“A physician can rapidly assess whether a patient is drinking alcohol as part of an overall healthy lifestyle, or if counseling is needed, just by asking a few questions during a routine exam,” Lisa Hawkins, spokeswoman for the Distilled Spirits Council, said in an email. “Research shows these brief discussions, held in a healthcare setting, can help individuals moderate their alcohol consumption or abstain altogether.”

Some states are tightening access to alcohol. A law set to go into effect in Utah Dec. 30 would reduce the legal blood alcohol limit from 0.08 to 0.05, a move pushed by the National Transportation Safety Board. The guidelines equate to one glass of wine for a 120-pound woman, and have also been considered in New York, Washington state, Hawaii, and Delaware. Though the proposals didn’t advanced, they’re expected to be re-introduced next year.

The U.S. overall has been trending in the opposite direction, with state lawmakers saying alcohol laws need to be modernized. Indiana, for instance, started selling alcohol on Sundays, and Pennsylvania now allows wine and beer to be sold in grocery stores.

By Kimberly Leonard

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/healthcare/deaths-from-alcohol-overuse-continue-to-climb

Related:

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(Study funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)

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Morning Prayer for Sunday, December 23, 2018 — “I am Glad I Am Here. I am Glad You Are Near.”

December 23, 2018

We have definitely left that dream world behind. It was only a sham. It was a world of our making and it was not the real world. We are sorry for the past, yes, but we learned a lot from it. We can put it down to experience, valuable experience, as we see it now, because it has given us the knowledge necessary to face the world as it really is. We had to become alcoholics in order to find the A.A. program. We would not have got it any other way. In a way, it was worth it. Do I look at my past as valuable experience?

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Meditation for the Day

Shed peace, not discord, wherever you go. Try to be part of the cure of every situation, not part of the problem. Try to ignore evil, rather than to actively combat it. Always try to build up, never to tear down. Show others by your example that happiness comes from living the right way. The power of your example is greater than the power of what you say.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may try to bring something good into every situation today. I pray that I may be constructive in the way I think and speak and act today.

From Twenty Four Hours a Day

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In the name of simplification for my own simple mind, I have two favorite prayers:

“I am Glad I Am Here. I am Glad You Are Near.”

This prayer signifies gratitude, trust, faith and the need for God and others.

The second prayer is even more simple:

“God I offer myself to thee.”

This is the first line of the Third Step Prayer and the only line that matters. It means I am putting my will into God’s hands. The trick is to keep it there.

If I have a third prayer it is this:

“Do not be afraid.”

This is a sort of ritual of self-consoling. The words belong to Jesus (Moses and many others) — and the phrase “Do not be afraid.” is probably the most often repeated line in the New Testament.

“Do not be afraid” is of paramount importance in an age when stress, depression, anxiety and fear are named as the most common root causes of addiction, suicide and many of the other ailments of our time.

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Prayer and meditation are essential to our peace, our growth and out mental health.

See also:

“Have no fear! Do not be afraid!”

http://catholic-resources.org/Bible/HaveNoFear.htm

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Jesus walks on Water. “Do not be afraid.” and “All things are possible with God.”

Related:

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Peace and Freedom comment; Everyone encounters physical and mental changes as they age. It is part of life. Human beings always have choices and today, there is always medical care. We don’t judge anybody. But we reject the ideas that some problems are too tough for humans to encounter and we reject the idea that suicide is a solution.
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 (Those words, spoken to an advocate of sex, drugs and rock and role, changed everything)

Image result for all things are possible with god

How Fortnite Triggered an Unwinnable War Between Parents and Their Boys

December 21, 2018

The last-man-standing videogame has grabbed onto American boyhood, pushing aside other pastimes and hobbies and transforming family dynamics

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Three Boys Explain Why They Play Fortnite Every Chance They Get

Three Boys Explain Why They Play Fortnite Every Chance They Get
Some boys are opting to play Fortnite for such long hours that it has become the primary component of their social life. We talked to three friends in San Francisco who obsess over the online game and their parents, who are wrestling with its impact.
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SAN FRANCISCO—Toby Ghassemieh is an inquisitive 12-year-old boy with a pet gecko named Coco and the makings of an ant colony in a bedroom cupboard. He built a forge in his backyard with plaster of Paris to melt aluminum into ingots. He wants to be a physicist when he grows up.

All that is on hold, though. What he cares about most is the videogame Fortnite. Same for his buddies Matthew Seiden, Max Howe, Jaren Erville and Reed Leidlein, who all live in or near the city’s Richmond neighborhood.

These seventh-grade pals used to spend their after-school hours together, either at somebody’s house or nearby Rochambeau Park. Now, they spend most of their free time apart, sequestered in their respective homes playing Fortnite and chatting through headsets instead of in person.

Not long ago, boys this age would be agitating for a trip to the movies or the skate park, someplace to hang out together. Not now.

“We see each other eight hours a day at school,” Toby said. Going to the park, Matthew said, is boring compared with Fortnite.

In less than 18 months, “Fortnite: Battle Royale,” a last-man-standing shooting contest, has grabbed onto American boyhood, joining, or pushing aside, soccer, baseball, even a share of mischief. Girls find it far less appealing.

It may be only a fad, but it is a particularly popular and time-consuming one. Fortnite has 200 million registered players, 60% more than it had in June, publisher Epic Games Inc. said last month.

The value of Fortnite’s maker, North Carolina-based Epic, has swelled to nearly $15 billion from less than $1 billion in less than six years, The Wall Street Journal reported in October.

Fortnite is not only reshaping how boys spend their time, but how they communicate—it acts essentially like an open phone line. The videogame is free and can be played almost everywhere on game consoles, desktop computers, laptops or smartphones.

It can also tear at family relationships in a way that few, if any, videogames have done before.

Three Boys Explain Why They Play Fortnite Every Chance They Get
Some boys are opting to play Fortnite for such long hours that it has become the primary component of their social life. We talked to three friends in San Francisco who obsess over the online game and their parents, who are wrestling with its impact.

Jaren’s mother, Victoria Erville, said her son “is hooked.” Matthew’s mother, Dionne Woods said, “I hate Fortnite. I just hate it.”

Prying a boy from the game is itself a battle. “It’s the bane of every parent I know,” said Michelle Steigerwald, Reed’s mother, a family law attorney.

Toby’s mother, Shannon Wolfe, posted a plea on the neighborhood network Nextdoor: “Help!!! Does anyone know of a support group for parents struggling with Fortnite?”

The responses reflected the sharp divide between those who believe Fortnite threatens to stunt healthy physical, social and emotional development—and those who think it is fine, even beneficial.

“Seriously?”

“LOL, such a good game.”

Others were like, So what’s new? Parents have always been scared by new crazes.

“Just the latest fad. What was it when you were growing up that parents thought was destroying youth? Comic books? Walkmen?”

One fan suggested Ms. Wolfe watch her son play: “You might be surprised the amount of quick mental calculations he’s doing in his head. It’s like chess times 10.”

For many parents, the problem isn’t just Fortnite. It is the fear that technology, from smartphones to videogames, has gotten too skilled at seizing their children’s brains.

Like with many videogames, the more people play Fortnite, the more data is generated about what captivates players the most and what drives players to quit. The constant stream of information boosts the ability of game designers to use machine learning to amplify player engagement.

As games get smarter, parents feel outmatched. “It’s not a fair fight,” said Dr. Richard Freed, child and adolescent psychologist and author of “Wired Child: Reclaiming Childhood in a Digital Age.”

Fortnite feels to some like an uninvited visitor, one that refuses to leave.

Howls, shrieks

Toby lives in a cheery household that juggles two soccer schedules, his and nine-year-old sister Serena’s. They have a dog named Louis. His father, Kayvaan Ghassemieh, is a product management director at Salesforce.com. His mother is a recruiter who likes to read and knit.

Their townhome is bright blue, tucked into a neighborhood of young families. Inside, a wall is filled with books. Their backyard has a trampoline.

Toby Ghassemieh engaged in a game of Fortnite.
Toby Ghassemieh engaged in a game of Fortnite. PHOTO: JUSTIN MAXON FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
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Toby is allowed Fortnite only on weekends. On Saturdays and Sundays, the yard is quiet. The howls and shrieks come from the basement where Toby wields a submachine gun to kill off rivals.

For Ms. Wolfe, the sounds from the basement remind her of all the other ways—her instinct screams, better ways—her son could be spending his time. The list in her head is long: experiments, books, jumping on the trampoline or exploring the internet, which is where he learned about ants.

Her own childhood in Seattle, raised by a bookseller father and an engineer-artist mother, fostered a curiosity about the world she hopes to instill in her children. “That’s what’s so disappointing” about Fortnite’s arrival, she said.

Parents have long used favorite childhood activities to help teach moderation and self-restraint: Be home by dark; no TV until your homework is done. The struggle at Toby’s house illustrates the deficiency of those methods.

Toby Ghassemieh is “typically a nice kid,” his mother said.
Toby Ghassemieh is “typically a nice kid,” his mother said. PHOTO: JUSTIN MAXON FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
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Toby is “typically a nice kid,” his mother said. He is sweet, articulate, creative, precocious and headstrong—the kind of child who can be a handful but whose passion and curiosity could well drive him to greatness.

Turn off Fortnite, and he can scream, yell and call his parents names. Toby gets so angry that his parents impose “cooling off” periods of as long as two weeks. His mother said he becomes less aggressive during those times. The calming effect wears off after Fortnite returns.

Toby’s mother has tried to reason with him. She has also threatened boarding school. “We’re not emotionally equipped to live like this,” she tells him. “This is too intense for the other people living here.”

Mr. Ghassemieh, Toby’s father, is a former gamer who works in the tech industry. He believes a game like Fortnite can help children learn analytical skills. Yet, he is bothered by how all the stimulation affects Toby.

“Join the family for dinner? ‘What? I was just in a gunfight and you want me to sit down and have a nice meal?’” Mr. Ghassemieh said.

Toby has a different point of view: Everybody else’s families can handle Fortnite, he said. Why can’t his?

The Town School for Boys, an independent school not far from where Toby and his friends live, hosted a recent presentation on Fortnite. About 200 parents showed up for the event that featured Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that advocates for safe media use by children.

“Some kids could use this as a pipeline to college,” said Jeff Haynes, of Common Sense Media. He explained that talented videogamers can win scholarships, and virtuosos can win million-dollar prizes.

The message wasn’t what many parents had come to hear. One woman drew applause when she raised her hand to interject: “This has been almost a celebration of Fortnite. I’m waiting for the part that would be useful to us.”

As people filed out early, one parent asked, “What advice do you have for us families who want less Fortnite in their life?”

Human experiment

The attractive magic of Fortnite is an artful mix of game design with a persuasive technology designed to shape the behavior of users. It has, in effect, cracked the code of mass-market gaming.

Reed Leidlein playing Fortnite at home in Mill Valley, Calif.
Reed Leidlein playing Fortnite at home in Mill Valley, Calif. PHOTO: JUSTIN MAXON FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
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Players experience random and unpredictable rewards, similar to the anticipation that keeps players at slot machines chasing winning combinations. These variable, intermittent rewards are what behaviorist B.F. Skinner found more effective in shaping the habit-forming behavior of pigeons than a predictable pattern of rewards.

“When you follow a reward system that’s not fixed, it messes up our brains eventually,” said Ofir Turel an associate professor at California State University, Fullerton, who researches the effects of social media and gaming.

With games like Fortnite, Dr. Turel said, “We’re all pigeons in a big human experiment.”

Fortnite has been the most watched game on Amazon.com ’s Twitch network since March, according to research firm Newzoo BV. In November, people spent more than 108.9 million hours watching other people play Fortnite, the firm said. Toby and his friends are among those who regularly watch via YouTube and Twitch.

*Total does not equal 100% due to rounding. 0.5% of players are 55 years or older. †Full-time employed defined as 35+ hours/week, part-time as under 35 hours/week.

Source: SuperData Research

Fortnite makes money by selling to players, everything from costumes called “skins,” dances, called “emotes,” for their avatars to perform and other virtual embellishments priced at $2 to $20 each. Players buy them with virtual currency called V-Bucks, which are sold in packages from $9.99 to $99.99.

Since its launch in July 2017, Fortnite has made more than $2 billion from sales of virtual goods, according to an estimate by industry tracker SuperData.

“Epic doesn’t comment much on the design of Fortnite these days,” the company said in an email.

The game began as a bleak apocalyptic “work together or die alone” concept seven years ago, said Epic designer Peter Ellis, during a talk to game designers at a conference in March.

But Epic wanted a game that “people would engage with for hundreds of hours if not years,” he said. So Mr. Ellis’s team ramped up the color and brightness of Fortnite to make it look more like a Pixar movie. Pixar’s parent, Walt Disney Co. , owns a stake in Epic.

They were aiming for a T rating, approved for teenagers, so they removed dismembered body parts, Mr. Ellis said. The Entertainment Software Rating Board, a nonprofit established in 1994, issues ratings for games and apps that range from E for everyone to A for adults only.

The resulting version is an animated killing game that manages to be hair-raising without visible blood spilled.

Dr. Freed, the psychologist, said the study of addictive technologies has identified some 200 persuasive design tricks. Fortnite has so many of those elements combined, he said, that it is the talk among his peers. “Something is really different about it,” he said.

He said its intentional design helps explain why parents have such trouble fighting the game’s pull on their children. As parents try to teach moderation and limits, Fortnite seeks a player’s full engagement for as long as possible.

Cut off

Until mid-September, Max Howe’s game console was the first place he went when he got home from school. He wasn’t allowed to play Fortnite on weeknights, but he could use the console to see if any friends were online, he said, “if I felt like talking or needed help with homework.”

Max Howe found workarounds after his parents took away his game console.
Max Howe found workarounds after his parents took away his game console. PHOTO: JUSTIN MAXON FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
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On weekends, Elizabeth Howe, Max’s mother, began finding him on the game early in the morning. She had to prod him to do homework. He isn’t as excited by academics as his older brother, a star student now at New York University. Max wants to grow up to be a game designer.

When a teacher called in September to warn his parents that his straight-A grades were slipping. his father, an internist, took away his game console and banished Fortnite until his grades improved. “Yes, there was shock and upset,” his mother said. “But Max knows there’s nothing to say.”

Ms. Howe, who manages her family’s real estate, didn’t realize how profound a change was in store. Over time, she noticed that Max was becoming cut off from his friends.

He found workarounds for the loss of his game console, playing Fortnite on a personal computer instead. On the PC, though, his friends using consoles couldn’t hear him. That meant he couldn’t team up, share weapons or chat with them.

Max couldn’t call or text either, since none of his friends communicate on their smartphones that way anymore. “It was like a grounding,” his mother said, “but of course, he’s not physically grounded.”

“I miss the old feel,” Max said. He got his console back sooner than he thought and not because his grades improved. He was assigned a group homework project with students who had decided to collaborate over their game consoles.

His mother realized that Fortnite had become so embedded in the boys’ lives that Max couldn’t even do his homework without it.

‘Headshots’

At Matthew’s house, Fortnite is making life uncomfortable. His father, Jay Seiden, a senior director at real-estate brokerage Cushman & Wakefield, doesn’t understand why Matthew isn’t outside playing or exploring the nearby parklands and beaches, said Ms. Woods, Matthew’s mother. As a boy, Mr. Seiden would ride his bike or play in creeks, catching frogs and snakes.

Matthew Seiden during a Fortnite session at home in San Francisco.
Matthew Seiden during a Fortnite session at home in San Francisco. PHOTO: JUSTIN MAXON FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
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Often, Mr. Seiden forces Matthew off Fornite after 90 minutes and sends him outside. Then, his mom said, she sees him riding up and down California Street on his scooter looking for friends.

She imagines they are all inside playing Fortnite. Matthew’s mother grew up in Chevy Chase, Md., and was an avid gamer, staying awake for hours after her parents were asleep playing Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and Frogger. She still rode her bike, got homework done and earned a law degree.

That is why she is more lenient than Matthew’s father. Friday nights are Matthew’s favorite time of the week. He gets macaroni and cheese for dinner and Fortnite until bed. Ms. Woods sets time limits, she said, but “I probably let him play too much. I’d rather not fight about it.”

She worries if she ought to be tougher. She doesn’t like the “bratty attitude” that Fortnite brings out in Matthew, normally a sweet, compliant boy.

Research on the impact of videogames is inconclusive. On one hand, it found videogames can boost visual acuity, processing speed and decision making. Studies also link gaming to poor behavior and lower school performance. A recent study of U.S. eighth and 10th-graders found that 30 or more hours a week of videogaming can be a risk factor for increased substance use.

A boy playing Fortnite in Germany this year.
A boy playing Fortnite in Germany this year. PHOTO: FRANK MAY/DPA/ZUMA PRESS
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Gaming affects the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter tied to the brain’s reward system and linked by researchers to addiction. Mental-health experts say the constant rewards that games provide, such as virtual goodies, can lead some players toward compulsive behavior.

More psychologists now believe that persuasive technology embedded in videogames is disrupting traditional ways of diagnosing and treating family conflicts.

When a child acts out, a psychologist usually looks for a problem between parent and child. It could be explosive or inconsistent parenting or not enough time spent together, said Dr. Meghan Owenz, a clinical psychologist. There could be depression or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in the child.

Technology introduces a new variable. “You might have a really great, smart kid, and a really great, attentive parent and there’s really just something wrong with the technology between them,” she said, one designed to take up time and attention.

One way to find out, she said, is to take away the technology for a month and see how the relationships adjust. That is especially true in light of new research linking frequent use of technology by teenagers to ADHD symptoms.

On a recent Saturday, Matthew logged on to Fortnite and a storm was coming, encircling the players and pushing them toward the inevitable fight to the finish. “Oh, my God,” Matthew said, getting worked up.

“This place is usually better,” he said, meaning available supplies of guns, ammunition, bandages or health drinks to wounds. Such supplies usually appear randomly in loot boxes or vending machines.

He didn’t have much time left before a vending machine appeared, raising his hopes. But it yielded nothing to help him in the approaching gunfight.

Guns are critical to survival. His friend Reed is lethal with a bolt-action sniper rifle, Toby said, but “I like a hunting rifle with a scope. It does a little bit more damage.” Shotguns are good at close range, he said, especially for “headshots,” which count for more points.

With 11 fighters left, Matthew barrels ahead. He let off a volley from his assault rifle. “Got him,” he yelled.

Just as he began to gather his victim’s loot, a loud crack sounds and something hits him. “Ahhhh,” he shouted. “I died.”

Almost immediately, he starts a new game.

In and around the Richmond neighborhood of Matthew, Toby, Max and their friends, the mothers are in constant touch. They keep an eye on grades and watch for aggressive behavior or fading interest in non-Fortnite activities. They keep the boys busy in organized sports.

Matthew Seiden gets ready to play basketball at a gym in San Francisco.
Matthew Seiden gets ready to play basketball at a gym in San Francisco. PHOTO: JUSTIN MAXON FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
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Toby’s parents have a new Fortnite plan. They give Toby two warnings before his time is up—at 30 minutes and 10 minutes. Then they turn off the Wi-Fi and close their bedroom door, ignoring Toby as he stomps upstairs from the basement and slams his door.

As the holidays approached, neighborhood parents were already looking ahead to summer plans, camps and programs that will keep their boys offline.

Corrections & Amplifications 
YouTube users this year spent 6.2 billion hours through Dec. 19 on Apple IOS and Android apps. An earlier version of a graphic incorrectly showed 6.2 million. (December 21, 2018)

Write to Betsy Morris at betsy.morris@wsj.com

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Compared to other species, including our closest relatives, chimpanzees, the brain takes up much more body weight in human beings. Photo: iStockphoto

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  (December 18, 2018)

See also:

‘It’s about time’: Facebook faces first lawsuit from U.S. regulators after Cambridge Analytica scandal

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2018/12/19/dc-attorney-general-sues-facebook-over-alleged-privacy-violations-cambridge-analytica-scandal/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.0a7f6680eccd

Cambridge Analytica, the political firm, sought to create “psychographic” profiles about social-media users — using their Facebook data — and target them with messages that preyed on their hopes and fears.

Teens insist social media makes them feel better: poll

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“Maybe I did a better job because I’m good with the Twitter”

 

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Young people

The study found widespread apprehension about the future. Seeking intimacy? Or isolation?