“The development of the reward or impulse system is much faster compared to the development of the self-control system. It means that if you take someone who is 13 years old,they will have a mature reward system but self-control system is not as well developed.
“So they are much more pre-disposed for impulsive and risky behaviours. With children there is room for regulation. They need our protection. Their brains are not as efficient as ours.”
The addictive quality of Fortnite, which has been downloaded 40m times since last July, has been picked up by Dr Richard Graham, who set up the UK’s first internet addiction clinic at the private Nightingale hospital in London.
He said all the young patients he was treating did play the game alongside other internet activities, with one playing it through the night.
He said: “In six months, it has made Beatlemania look like a passing whim. You are dealing with something akin to the massive Diana effect that swept up everyone.
The multi-player format, where, in the Battle Royale version up to 100 players fight each other until one is left standing, engendered a “crowd mentality.”
“You have a mass crowd effect where you have engagement that sweeps you along,” said Dr Graham. “The fear of missing out is also part of what drives it. It’s something you can’t almost not be a part of.”