Fortnite; The Silent Killer Of Family Time or Skill Building For Kids?
Posted on 8th April 2019 at 15:14
If you haven't heard of Fortnite yet, where have you been?
The latest gaming craze to sweep across the globe has not just one option - oh no! It has 2 options for you to choose from:
Fortnite Save The World: has players fighting off zombie like monsters and works well played with others so you can fight them off together.
Fortnite Battle Royale: is the free version and it's where 100 players battle against each other until there is only one winner!
It's a cross between the dystopian post apocalypse world of The Hunger Games and Minecraft which has been popular with young people for years. It is in cartoon format and has a high skill level which keeps players hooked and eager to improve. Kids love it as characters can do 'emotes' which are dances or gestures which is where 'The Floss' has gained popularity.
Players can join in on their phone, tablet, Playstation, X-Box and Twitch an Amazon owned live stream site where they can also watch other people playing. Celebrities like Drake, Travis Scott and Chance the Rapper are all popular gamers to watch play.
Fortnite does have a T rating which means anyone 13 and over can play as it contains violence, as it's done through animation, it's seen in a less gory way. However, when I went to download it from the Play Store, there was no point where it asked me to verify my age.
Therefore, I would recommend keeping an eye the various formats where Fortnite can be played.
(Phones, Tablets, Playstations, X-Box and Laptops)
The Entertainment Software Rating Board state: 'This is an action game in which players build forts, gather resources, craft weapons, and battle hordes of monsters in frenetic combat. From a third-person perspective, players use guns, swords, and grenades to fight skeleton-like monsters (husks) in ranged and melee-style combat. Players can also defeat enemies by using various traps (e.g., electric, spikes, poisonous gas). Battles are highlighted by frequent gunfire, explosions, and cries of pain.'
Loads of parents have asked me about Fortnite.
I had previously advised them to treat this game like any other game.
As parents you have the ability to choose whether to say yes or no don't you?
Initially I had some concerns when I read about the 9 year old girl who is now in rehab after becoming so hooked she wet herself so she could keep playing. Yes the original article was in a tabloid newspaper and all over the TV channels too. (Read the article HERE)
What we have to remember is that like many games through the ages, this is a new craze which is sweeping the nation and like anything new, parents have a responsibility to decide what craze they let their child participate in.
My first games console was the ZX Spectrum and I loved a game called Chuckkie Egg. In those days you couldn't save games like you often can today so I once spent an entire day getting to level 27 before I finally ran out of lives.
That was back in the mid 80's!
Research has shown that families who play games together are stronger at dealing with other real life issues. Those who play games are more likely to keep in touch with their social circle and creating a great Avatar can help us be more courageous and committed to our goals. Surprisingly to me was that playing games far outweighs pharmaceuticals for clinical anxiety and depression as it can boost your mood and happiness for 30 mins at a time.
I've included the video by Game Developer Jane McGonigal as she makes some incredible points about how playing games can improve your physical, mental, emotional and social resilience. If you are a gamer you are more likely to reach out those playing with you if you are struggling with life itself.
There are some really positive reasons for playing Fortnite, especially as a family.
I asked in my Facebook Group what their thoughts on the game were:
As Larissa knows how addicted to games her kids get:
"Simply not allowed in this house"
Her young daughter had seen Fortnite at other kids houses and then suffered with nightmares and panic attacks.
Gemma's son wants to program and code his own games when he is older:
"I check all chats, I sit with him too to see what’s going on and I’m always in and out of his room asking who he’s playing with. Fortnite is highly addictive and he gets a warning for when he has to come off and then he’s told to come off."
She understands that playing the game is important to his future development, yet she has clear rules surrounding who he communicates with and when he knows it's time to finish playing.
"First thing they think of in a morning. Rule in my house tv/gaming/tabs etc are after school only activities and nothing after dinner time. They have 30 mins max. Longer than that and it genuinely affects their attitude/behaviour."
It's interesting that Emma has noticed her kids attitude and behaviour change if they are on Fortnite longer than 30 mins.
Shawn is now an adult and as an only child was left to play a lot of games. He feels it affected his academic life as he would play games rather than study.
"Having said that though, I did form several long-lasting, real-world friendships that arose from a shared interest in gaming."
Which is a hugely positive outcome. Shawn who now has 2 kids of his own recognises the addictive nature of these games and places time limits on play and only lets them play games for their age limit.
Tips for parents of kids who want to play:
30 mins to 2 hours of gaming can improve Emotional, Physical, Mental and Social resilience so allowing game time is a good thing.
Make sure games are age appropriate.
Give them some responsibility about the choices they make about their gaming activity times. (i.e; would it be helpful for them to get homework and household jobs completed before they game? Do they want to be involved with a family film night? etc.)
Set time scales for playing. If you set a timer for 25 mins so they know they have 5 minutes left to play gives them that time to get as far as they can.
Play as a family so it builds stronger bonds in real life situations.
Games out-perform pharmaceuticals in the happiness stakes as it can boost their mood and help if your child has clinical anxiety or depression.
If they are playing alone, stay connected by asking them how they are doing, who they are talking to online etc so they know you are being interested in them while monitoring who they play with.
Help them build their Avatars so they possess positive qualities of strength, courage and commitment which will help them with real life situations. If something comes up for them ask how their Avatar would deal with it.
Include real life action activities as part of your week so they can practice being strong, courageous and commitment in a physical way. (Sports, climbing, tree top challenges, canoeing, hill walking, dance, drama etc)
When I started writing this blog I had huge negativity towards game play as my ex-husband was a gamer. It was one of the reasons our marriage broke down as he would spend days on a game neglecting me and our home as he was so addicted.
I can't play games which have high levels of motion in them as I get motion sickness while playing so although I did play a couple of times to gain that connection with him, I would become physically sick.
Through this research I have come to realise the positive outcomes games can have for someone. I still believe it is important for parents to discuss time restrictions so they discover how to have a healthy relationship with gaming and also real life.
Written by Debs Bamford, Parent Behavioural Specialist with Confidence Camp.
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