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Champions for Change; Addicted to Video Games; Family Separations at Border; Dad's Take Paid Family Leave. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired June 18, 2018 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Your life is going to be different in one hour from now.

Oh, we're ready.

CAMEROTA (voice over): Watching a little seven-month-old baby have his face operated on and seeing the tubes in him and the, you know, scalpels, it was a lot.

CAMEROTA (on camera): Oh, it's OK, sweetie. It's OK, Samwel (ph).

And then watching Samwel come out of anesthesia and open his eyes and become alert and carrying him to his mom, it was really intense.

Oh, my gosh, what an angel. Look at this little angelic face. You did it. Great job, doc.


CAMEROTA: OK. You want to go see mommy? Let's go see mommy.

He did so well. He did perfectly.


CAMEROTA: It's just really amazing to see how, in the space of one hour, these little children's lives can be changed and their families and their mothers and everything can be so happy. It's just really, really inspiring.

Obviously, our "Champion for Change," he's done this for 20 years and he has no plans to stop because he doesn't want one child left behind with a cleft pallet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't feel like I am the champion of anything. I feel that all these kids changed my life, not the opposite.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: That surgery is breathtaking.

CAMEROTA: Oh, and --

BERMAN: The difference is breathtaking and so apparent of how much can be changed.

CAMEROTA: And, guess what, each one of those surgeries cost $240. That's it. It costs $240 and it takes an hour. They do kid after kid when you're there at the medical mission. You know, you see them bringing in kid after kid because they're trying to fix as many as they can while they're there.

So it's easy, it's inexpensive and it is life changing. And so I'm just happy that we were able to get out the word about all the good work that Operation Smile does.

BERMAN: Talk about making a difference.

CAMEROTA: It really does. So we'll continue to share more of these inspirational stories all week. Don't miss the "Champions for Change" one hour special this Saturday at 8 p.m. I can't wait to see all of them.

BERMAN: We'll be right back.

Oh, a major announcement expected today aimed at gamers. What parents need to know about the effects of gaming on mental health. That's next.


[08:37:04] BERMAN: My boys are already at school this morning, which is unfortunate, because I would want them to see this. Playing video games may turn into more than just a past time for some players. The World Health Organization, the WHO, warning this morning that some people can actually become addicted.

Our chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta with more.


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, and for a lot of people this has been a long time coming. They thought, look, can people become addicted to these games? Can they become addicted in a way that actually could qualify them as having a mental health disorder? The World Health Organization, not just the United States, but the World Health Organization is ready to say yes.


EVAN PORTER, RECOVERING VIDEO GAME ADDICT: I pretty much started playing video games like seriously in like fifth grade. And the amount of use got like fifth grade, sixth grade and then like seventh grade and then eighth grade and like ninth grade it just went straight up. That's when my life really started deteriorating.

KIEREN PORTER, EVAN'S MOTHER: He was basically online all the time, every waking moment. And he would refuse to go to school. He wouldn't eat with us. He lost weight. He was up all night.

GUPTA (voice over): And like any mom, Kieren Porter became increasingly concerned about her 16-year-old son Evan, but she didn't know just how serious the problem was. Now the World Health Organization is, for the first time, calling gaming disorder a mental health condition.

DR. VLADIMIR POZNYAK, WHO DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE: Which should be clearly defined behavioral pattern, which is of such intensity and of such nature that it takes precedence of all activities which have been important for an individual in the past.

GUPTA: That was Evan to a t. Nothing was more important than his ability to get online and game. "Overwatch," Team Fortress 2," "Counter Strike," "Global Offensive," games that are designed to keep you playing for hours.

HILARIE CASH, AUTHOR, "VIDEO GAMES & YOUR KIDS": I think it's really helpful to understand that once an addictive process takes hold of someone, they do lose control. Their impulse to just go online and game and do whatever else they want to do online, that is stronger than whatever it is they tell themselves they should be doing.

GUPTA: Hilarie Cash is co-founder of Restart, an inpatient treatment program for video game addicts. It's outside of Seattle and about as far away as you can get from screens. Picturesque, peaceful and most importantly unplugged.

E. PORTER: It's a pretty big difference. Like growing up from screens to on screen all night to no screens.

[08:40:00] GUPTA: What happens here at Restart is no surprise, lots of therapy, time outdoors and an emphasis on interpersonal interactions.

CASH: We're social animals and we actually need to be physically present with one another face-to-face where we can see and hear and touch and smell each other.

GUPTA: It's still early days for Restart. They've graduated 19 adolescents in the last year and a half. But here's the problem, the real world is still filled with triggers for gaming addicts.

E. PORTER: An alcoholic knows that he can't ever have alcohol again. Someone who's addicted to cocaine can never have cocaine again. The technology addict -- a technology addict, I mean, it's pretty hard to live without technology.


CAMEROTA: Wow, Sanjay, he makes such a good point that it's everywhere.


CAMEROTA: And so in terms of that addiction component, just explain, I understand the symptoms, that he's staying up all night, not eating, but what are you saying about the physical addiction to it? It light up the same like pleasure sensors that other substances do for addicts? GUPTA: Yes, it can cause the same sort of euphoria, which keeps people

coming back over and over again.

But I think what's really interesting, the point that Hillary was making, is that when you start to actually become an addict to a -- in this case these games, your frontal lobes, this area of the brain that gives you the judgment to say, stop playing, I need to stop whatever, those frontal lobes also become impaired so it becomes increasingly difficult for an addict to stop, even if they have the best intentions with regard to this. So that's why the retreat that you saw there is so important. It's not going to solve the problem of screens, but it can at least help that frontal lobe heal.


BERMAN: It's amazing to see. I can see the kids doing it now, you know, choosing to do this before they -- anything else cannot not play. Fascinating.

Sanjay, thank you very, very much.

GUPTA: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right, members of both parties united in calling on President Trump to end the separation of children from their parents. Will he stop this practice today? "The Bottom Line" is next.


[08:46:02] CAMEROTA: OK, so what will happen today with the crisis at the border? President Trump could stop the practice of splitting up families anytime. Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci was on our program and he said the time to end this practice is now.


ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: He's got to step in there and he's got to end this thing because I think it's an atrocious policy. It's inhumane. It's offensive to the average American. And when you think about American values, it does not represent American values.


CAMEROTA: All right, let's get "The Bottom Line" with CNN political director David Chalian.

David, how long can President Trump hear his allies and supporters say things like that?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: This is a huge political problem for the White House, and the president clearly knows it, right? Look at his own tortured rhetoric over it and completely different messages coming out of different corners of the White House on this issue. But when you have your former communications director, when you have

your wife, when you have the former Republican first lady all out there, never mind all of the Republicans on Capitol Hill that are really concerned about the images that they're seeing coming from the border, the president is aware he's got a problem.

What is not clear yet at all, Alisyn, is the path to the solution here. He had said last week he wants a legislative fix on this matter, but the legislation that Congress is really dealing with right now is related to DACA. So it is unclear how indeed this gets fixed unless the president, which you know he does not like to reverse course in any way or admit an error in any way, actually changes their current policy.

BERMAN: It's a great point and I'm saying that not only because I made it earlier, and Alisyn was talking --


CHALIAN: John, I wasn't watching. I promise. I didn't (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: No, no, but Alisyn before was saying how smart Michael Smerconish was because he was saying exactly what she had said. So I'm just, you know, payback time.

Listen, I'm going to try to do this in an organized way here.

The White House chose this. The White House chose this policy. It's happening because the White House chose this. I want everybody to know that before I read you what the president just said moments ago. He just put out a statement. He said, why don't the Democrats give us the vote to fix the world's worst immigration laws? Where is the outcry for the killings and crime being caused by gangs and thugs, including MS-13, coming into our country illegally?

So, what the president is trying to do there is, once again, shift the focus, saying this is the Democrats' fault, shift the focus saying this is about MS-13. Whether or not you want to fix MS-13 issues, whether or not you want to protect the border, have that debate. There's no question the president could stop this policy of separating parents from their children right now. He could pick up the phone and end it right now.

CHALIAN: He could, John, but it would be a drastic turnaround because you know this separating of children from their parents, this is a fallout of the zero tolerance policy that the administration has put in place, not just put in place but touted.


CHALIAN: Jeff Sessions has been out there really pounding his chest, following through on the president's orders. You had Steven Miller, the White House aide, telling "The New York Times" that this indeed is a choice that the president is making to try to force some action on this issue. What we are seeing is an administration that is quite proud of this

policy decision. And you are right to note the distraction in the president's tweet. Nothing in that tweet is about solving this immediate, acute problem that the world is seeing right now and that the president is going to suffer for. But there's nothing in there about solving that. It is -- it is conflating it and distracting it with some other not I'm sure important issues. I'm not suggesting otherwise. But that's not the issue of this administration policy that's -- which is culminating in this issue of children and their parents being separated.

CAMEROTA: But, David, does this acute problem at the border and the fact that the optics are so alarming and get American's attention, does it bring people to the table? Is Congress acting more -- with alacrity now because of this?

[08:50:07] CHALIAN: Well, we're going to see a whole immigration debate play out this week up on The Hill. But as I said, Alisyn, that really was focused elsewhere. The so-called compromise legislation, the legislation that the Republican leadership is trying to get folks behind, there is some language in there related to this policy, but it doesn't actually solve this problem. It's really focused on that issue of the deferred action of the DACA recipients. And so -- along with additional border security measures.

This -- I have not yet seen Congress delve into an actual debate or proposal of a legislative fix to this immediate problem.

BERMAN: Will Hurd, Republican from Texas, told us, if they had a standalone bill on just this, it would get more than 300 votes. As a moderate Republican, it was interesting, he also said he opposes both Republican measures coming to a vote on the floor, which shows you how much trouble they might be in.

David, it just does strike me that the tenor of this discussion has moved so far in the last few days, it's hard for me to see how the president sustains this until tomorrow when he meets with House Republicans. It's hard for me to see how he walks in that room without something to deliver on this subject, which has been almost impossible for most, not all, Republicans to defend.

CHALIAN: Yes, but, can I add one cautionary note here, John? Just to get inside the president's thinking, you have to remember, he took a really hard line immigration approach when he launched his presidential campaign. And all the political class believe there's no doubt, when he became the nominee, he was going to have to pivot in some way and change his approach on these issues to actually have appeal in the general election. He did not and he won. And that really reinforces his notion that even though he sees this political problem, that he may not read it as immediate political peril for him because he won even with a more hard line edge on these issues.

CAMEROTA: Great point, David Chalian. Now we've both complemented him.

Thanks so much for "The Bottom Line."

CHALIAN: Thanks, guys.

CAMEROTA: OK, Reddit co-found Alexis Ohanian is a new dad and a new advocate for paid family leave. What he says about his marriage to tennis superstar Serena Williams and having time to treasure their new baby girl.

BERMAN: Chalian is so smart.

CAMEROTA: He's so smart.


[08:56:03] BERMAN: Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian is a new father on a mission to encourage other fathers to push for and take advantage of paid family leave.

Our Sunlen Serfaty spoke with Ohanian and has more.


SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It was the first time that Alexis Ohanian's fast paced lifestyle as a hard-charging businessman and husband to Serena Williams really slowed down.

ALEXIS OHANIAN, CO-FOUNDER OF INITIALIZED CAPITAL AND REDDIT: I'd have a sleeping baby in one arm and my smart phone in the other and I'd still be like aware, but this was the priority. And being present in the house was a priority.

SERFATY: After the birth of their baby girl last September, documented by HBO's "Being Serena," Ohanian took his paternity leave.

OHANIAN: To have those moments and to feel that closeness, it was -- was just -- was spectacular.

SERFATY: He's since become a vocal advocate for paid family leave and put his money where his mouth is, designing a policy for his workers, offering 16 weeks paid time off for both moms and dads.

OHANIAN: What it's ultimately going to mean for the organization is a way healthier, better functioning organization. Your teams are not robots. They're humans. And if you really are expecting them to do great work, they need to be in a great state of mind.

SERFATY: And more and more it's not just moms but dads that are calling for these better policies too, wanting an equal role raising their newborn. Seventy-three percent of dads in the U.S. say they have little workplace support, including paid time off following the birth of their child. Two-thirds of parents say they're willing to change jobs if necessary to be involved in the early weeks of caring for their newborn. Some companies are listening. In the last year alone, big companies like these have expanded or created new family leave policies, many specifically geared towards including dads.

OHANIAN: Do whatever you can to take time off. You're never going to regret it. You're never going to get it back. SERFATY: The political landscape is changing, too. What used to be

seen just as a Democratic issue --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let's support working families by supporting paid family leave.

SERFATY: Is now attracting Republican leadership.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: It's a children's issue, it's a family issue and it involves fathers, as well. I mean we want fathers to be more involved in their children's lives.

SERFATY: On Capitol Hill, there's been a big federal shift. In the past four years, the number of lawmakers signed on to some type of paid family leave legislation has more than doubled. And while Democrats and Republicans are far from a consensus about how broad a national paid leave policy should be and how to pay for it, there is a growing realization that Congress needs to do something.

SEN. MARTIN HEINRICH (D), NEW MEXICO: We're kind of behind the curve here. Most of the rest of the world has some form of paid family leave.

SERFATY: Across the country there is more movement. Thirty-one states and Washington, D.C., had paid family leave legislation under consideration this year alone. And five states and Washington, D.C., have passed new or expanded paid family leave laws.

But despite momentum, there is still a long way to go. Only 15 percent of workers in the U.S. have access to paid family leave, making every new parent's voice count.

OHANIAN: I don't think it's good enough to simply say, oh, well, it was -- it was -- it was always done this way. Men always worked. Women always stayed home with the kids. And that's just simply not good enough.


SERFATY: And we could see some movement on Capitol Hill sometime soon. Senator Marco Rubio's office tells me his legislation will likely be released in the next few weeks and the Senate Finance Committee is readying to have a hearing potentially later this summer on this.


CAMEROTA: All right, Sunlen, thank you very much. It's great, what he's doing with his platform, trying to get the word out of why it's so important.

BERMAN: It's an important time. You never get those days back.

CAMEROTA: That's right.

All right, time now for CNN "NEWSROOM" with Jim Sciutto. We'll see you tomorrow. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Jim Sciutto.

[08:59:48] It is the day after Father's Day. And if you're a father or a mother, imagine what it would be like to experience what immigrant parents at the border are being forced to experience as a result of the Trump administration's zero tolerance immigration policy, specifically the part that separates children from their parents when they try to enter the United States.