5 Fortnite Myths Every Parent Needs to Know
Does your child play Fortnite every day? Are his only friends on Fortnite? Does your child get furious and have meltdowns when you take away the game? Has he lost a sense of curiosity for other hobbies?
Let’s be honest, parenting around video games is no easy task. For years I mistakenly thought that my son was benefiting from his video games. But instead of benefitting our kids, games are derailing them from things they once enjoyed: getting together in-person with friends, developing hobbies and life skills, and reinforcing family attachment. The myths in support of Fortnite sound convincing, but let’s take a closer look at the research.
1. It’s just a cartoon, its not violent. Some people, especially your kids, will argue that Fortnite isn’t as bad or as violent as a game like Call of Duty. Blood or no blood, this game is violent and human avatars are being shot and killed. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ policy statement on virtual violence, “Cartoon violence can have detrimental effects … first-person shooter games are not appropriate for any child … violent video games teaches children to associate pleasure and success with their ability to cause pain and suffering to others.”
2. He won’t have any friends if he doesn’t play. Socializing on a video game cannot replace in-person socialization, especially for shy, socially awkward kids. Your child’s social awkwardness may only grow worse on Fortnite. If your child tells you he’s going to lose all his friends if he doesn’t play, then he needs to find some new friends or new hobbies that introduce him to new friend groups.
3. He is learning strategy skills. What does this really mean? Video game strategy does not transfer into real-life skills. First, kids need to develop some real-life strategies. Strategies like doing homework on time, cleaning his room and finding motivation to pursue purposeful activities. The strategies for these life skills are not found on Fortnite.
4. Gaming ignites an interest in technology careers. Playing more Fortnite leads to … playing more Fortnite, not learning more about technology. Fortnite is not an educational game and Fortnite skills do not develop his science or engineering skills. Your child’s mind is not being stretched.
5. Gaming develops his creativity and imagination. Game designers are not concerned with developing your child’s creativity. Like rats in a research lab, your kids are reacting to a predetermined program and preset algorithms. They are not creating anything. Don’t confuse the humorous skins and funny dances that your kids can buy with real money for creativity and imagination.
The truth is gaming leads to addiction. Over time, your child’s brain is rewired to only choose Fortnite over other activities. Chronic high levels of adrenaline and dopamine from video game overuse causes stress and cravings that lead to addiction.
Tips for Replacing Fortnite
• Take your leadership back and take the power away from the game. Remove it if necessary.
• Partner with other families who are also interested in taking a break from the game.
• Get educated about the physical and long-term effects of video game overuse.
• Help your child restart old and discover new hobbies.
• Follow a daily schedule to keep your child on track with the good stuff: real play, reading, face-to-face time, chores, exercise and nature.
• Spend one-on-one, non-tech time with each of your kids every day.
Parents who use a loving approach with a coach’s heart are more successful at managing their children’s entertainment screens. Don’t back down from what you know is best for your child. If it feels like Fortnite has taken over your home, then it’s time to go back to the basics. Like a good coach, make the necessary substitutions you know are needed to turn your team around.
Melanie Hempe is the founder of Families Managing Media, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping families reduce childhood screen overuse. familiesmanagingmedia.com.