My son was never a gamer. He played sports, hung out with friends and did typical dirty boy stuff.

Enter Fortnite: Battle Royale.

The popular video game is now my son’s competition of choice and playing Fortnite is his way of hanging out with friends. Even though it makes me out of my ever-loving parental mind watching my offspring sit there with headphones on shooting at animated characters on a screen, I’m allowing it in our home, but not without limitation.

Playing video games should be an earned privilege, according to Dr. Lisa Strohman, Psychologist and Founder of Digital Citizen Academy.

Is playing Fortnite an earned privilege in your home?

Fortnite-Battle-Royale-Video-Game-Parent-Expectations-For-Teenagers

As summer approaches and more downtime is on the horizon, I urge my fellow parents of Fortniters to begin to set family guidelines around gaming now.

FIRST UNDERSTAND WHY YOUR SON PLAYS FORTNITE

Belonging

Kids naturally have a need to belong and be part of the group. Playing Fortnite fulfills the human need for attachment to other people. The team approach of the popular video game is like being on a playground with friends.

It’s Addictive

There is the ability to have rankings and feel accomplishment and status, so it’s exciting…. and addicting. We must be careful that video games are not medicating our children, just as we adults might turn to alcohol, shopping or other deterrents to mask our reality.

It is ‘Free’

Battle Royale is a free game yet comes at a cost. “There is always a trade-off for the free video game, says Dr. Strohman. “It costs our child no money to begin playing, yet Epic Games collects all of our kids’ data.” Fortnite generated $223 million in one month alone. What appears to be free at the onset, is costing our kids along the way.

All the Cool Kids are Playing

It doesn’t help that our sons are watching their heroes play Fortnite in their downtime. “The game industry is very savvy bringing in the celebrity aspect to further entice our kids and create even more frenzy around it,” says Dr. Strohman. “They want to see who they can rub elbows with. Of course, our teenager would love the opportunity to take Rapper Drake down.”

Parenting the Fortnite Addict in the New York Times

Fortnite-Battle-Royale-Video-Game-Parent-Expectations-For-Teenagers

3 THINGS PARENTS SHOULD DO FOR THEIR FAVORITE FORTNITER

1. Communicate about healthy consumption

According to Dr. Strohman, parents must treat technology the same as they do food. “We would never allow a steady diet full of sugar, so why would we allow a steady diet of video games and technology? she says. “If you saw your children eating gummy bears for breakfast, you would sit them down and talk about how it is unhealthy.”

Parents must do the same thing when it comes to video game consumption. We must talk to our child about why a diet full of screens isn’t healthy and then we must be willing to set firm boundaries around gaming in our homes.

2. Create opportunities to build empathy

How are these first-person shooter games affecting our kids?

There is no research to show that first-person shooter games, such as Fortnite, creates actual violence. “But, what it has shown is escalated aggression,” said Dr. Strohman. A heightened alert system increases aggressive tendencies which reduce empathy in our kids. The concern is that this is becoming habitual.”

The world needs us to raise empathetic humans. Parents must mindfully create plenty of opportunities for our children to learn empathy through real-world experiences in our families and communities. Especially if we know that video games are numbing our children to this critical value.

4 Technology Battles Parents Must Fight

3. Write out your parental expectations for earning the privilege of gaming

How does your child currently earn the privilege to play video games in your home?

I asked Dr. Strohman if the list I gave my teenage Fortnite playing son was perhaps over the top? Was I crossing the line from a firm and loving authoritative parent to a demanding authoritarian parent with my expectations?

Fortnite-Video-Game-Parent-Expectations

“Your list is absolutely awesome,” said Dr. Strohman. “If your son isn’t responsible enough to wear his retainers then how can he earn the privilege of playing video games?”

Nothing like an expert to tell you that your parenting tactics are spot on. Sorry son….

Decide what boundaries you need to place on video game play and overall technology use in your home.

It’s okay if our kids think we’re crazy, mean or super annoying. It’s fine if our expectations make our child temporarily unhappy. It is our job to teach and lead our children to a life of significance and meaning and I can guarantee you too much time on an addictive video game is not achieving that goal.

Have you set boundaries on your son’s Fortnite play? What’s working for your family?

Want more wisdom from Dr. Lisa Strohman? Check out her website here!

To learn about Dr. Strohman’s book Unplug and other books on parenting our kids on screens check out my Parent On Purpose Amazon store!

18 replies
  1. Livy
    Livy says:

    Wow – high bar for the conditions list. I’m inspired to not be such a push over in an attempt to gain my kids favour!

    Reply
    • Amy Carney
      Amy Carney says:

      You’re right- I have set the bar high. And all of those things I wrote out are not regularly met by any means. It has just been a jumping off point for us to have discussions on what really matters most in life! Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Reply
  2. Letty
    Letty says:

    Thanks for this article…I too and finding this new trend in our house. I like the fact that he is playing with friends…but I most definitely need to set boundaries for summertime “free time” which there is a lot of !!!!

    Reply
  3. Kerrie Byer
    Kerrie Byer says:

    I find it hard to find a balance in discussions alone regarding fortnite. It seems all he talks about are new skins, new themes/environments (see I listen). I want him to be heard, however I find I have to probe gently to have a discussion that doesn’t involve fortnite. When he asks for money towards something on fortnite, pull out the page that shows the monthly fee to be “online” and ask what he has done to contribute. He would spend hundreds of dollars in a heartbeat if he could. He says his sister is the same with makeup, however she is a social butterfly and my concern primarily with my son is the face to face social. Thank you for the article!!

    Reply
  4. FortniteMommy
    FortniteMommy says:

    My son is 7. He is allowed 1 hour per night /if/ he has a satisfactory day at school, completes his homework as expected, maintains proper grades, and once his nightly tasks are done – dinner, shower, teeth brush, etc. He has been spending the hour playing it online with his dad (we do not live together) so it is also time for him to “bond” with his dad. Again, though, it is only as a reward for doing well and functioning normally outside of the video game world. He is still working on control – he bursts into tears of sadness at dying or fits of anger at other players – so it’s a constant conversation. That’s my biggest challenge!

    Reply
  5. Christopher Stratton
    Christopher Stratton says:

    My son is 10 and his entire hockey team in Arizona asks him “why don’t your parents allow you to play “Fortnite”. He’s empowered and confident to shrug it off and say, “it’s just a rule in our house and my parents don’t allow it. I dion’t miss what I’ve never had”….as a SafeSport parent, actually IN THE LOCKER ROOM as he’s mentioned this refrain, I’m proud of his confidence in telling his pals to bugger off about Fortnite. He’s too busy playing goalie on the ice, playing guitar and working in creative arts, with the occasional video sports game. Fortnite is the worst babysitter money can buy. I’m only responsible for my four, though.

    Reply
    • Laura Seitz
      Laura Seitz says:

      Thank you Christopher for bragging about your special son on an article intending to help parents whose children actually play the game. Did that slap on your own back make you feel good?

      Reply
  6. worried mum
    worried mum says:

    Thank you today my son, who is never up for school, woke the house up at 6am by logging on and shouting down a headset. May i add he 7 years old!!! i am so angry at myself for allowing this to get this far, i have done a too do list that must be completed from now on, and all activities like football etc must be committed to.

    Thank you

    Reply
    • Amy Carney
      Amy Carney says:

      Thanks for taking the time to read my post, comment and make positive changes for your son and family! Video games are very addicting and we as parents have to take charge and not worry about our child’s happiness when it comes to this. We actually had to throw the video game system out of the house because we felt getting rid of the junk was better than to keep arguing about it! Keep leading the charge mum!!

      Reply
      • Youmna Othman
        Youmna Othman says:

        Bravo. That’s a brave decision, we too decided to put up the xbox completely but worried its too hard. how has it been working out for you ? My son is really upset about it because we told him xbox will be gone complete once school starts including weekend time.

        Reply
        • Amy Carney
          Amy Carney says:

          Good for you! It has worked out wonderfully! After a while, he never mentioned it again and never even plays at friend’s houses anymore. He’s busy with school, sports, church, a job, his girlfriend, friends and family. Back to living a healthy life. I’m sure it helps that he has two brothers who don’t play any video games either….

          Reply
  7. J B
    J B says:

    Perhaps my son’s Fortnite addiction is at a much higher level than most kids, but your tactics would only work on someone who’s 7 or younger. Try a 16 year old that’s 235 lbs and assaults you after screaming F*** YOU!!! to your face because you just took the computer away. And then repeatedly harangues you about getting it back to the point where you can’t even sleep at night because he’s outside your bedroom door practically frothing at the mouth like a crack addict, banging and kicking at your door until you finally relent because you need sleep to get up for work the next day. And try living in a state like Washington where parents have no control over their kids once they’re 13 (but are still legally responsible for their actions), so you can’t put them in any kind of mental health treatment program because they can refuse any and all medical treatment and are legally allowed to drop out of school at age 16 (which my son did on the day of his bday) so he can sit on his ass and play Fortnite all day. So here I am, stuck living with a monster who doesn’t do anything but play Fortnite and sleep all day. And if you take the computer away or turn off the internet, you get assaulted and injured. Oh what’s that? Call the cops you say? Did that several times. They take him in, process him and then call me 2 hours later to pick him up. He’s on a first name basis at the juvy detention center. Then he comes home and proceeds to destroy my belongings and kick down my bedroom door and make my life a miserable hell. Then the cops come again, rinse and repeat. All because of a stupid video game addiction. I literally am living in hell and there’s nothing I can do but wait 21 more months until he turns 18 and kick him out. Yes, he has more issues than just video game addiction, but since he refuses treatment, we don’t know what those issues are and likely won’t until it’s too late and he seriously hurts me or worse. No one has any answers. I can’t afford to send him off to a teen boot camp. There’s nothing on my side to help me. I just pray that the game will go out of popularity but if it does, it’ll always be something else to take it’s place.

    Reply
    • KSaraht
      KSaraht says:

      Thank you for your warning to parents of 7 year olds, because this problem (as listen above in your comment) seems like it’s been 10+ years in the making. My son too has anger/attention/diagnosed emotional issues.

      Reply
    • Amanda
      Amanda says:

      JB, I feel like I’m listening to my own self when I read your comment. I’m in Australia, putting up with the exact & I mean exact routine as you with my 16 year old. God help us. The laws a joke!!

      Reply
  8. A Modern Gamer
    A Modern Gamer says:

    All you people are cringe… Yeah set boundaries, but don’t just straight up find ways to prevent them from doing what they love outright. I’m fixing to graduate high school in a few weeks (4/15/19) and every time I read one of the articles, it still continues to baffle me at how ignorant some people are. But I need to be respectful from here on out, otherwise nobody will listen. Your free to respond in anyway you see fit that would best suit the message your trying to get across, weather it be an attack on me, or a passive disagreement, or even a simple agreement, respond however you like. It is the age of the internet after all…(Be warned, I’m about to ramble for a while)

    1) I firmly believe that video games are not bad for the child.

    *If your child already doesn’t play games, or have the intent to start playing any time soon, that’s fine, it’s all good m8. But you MUST NOT forget that some kids weather they’re young or older like me, examples ranging from 5 – 18 years, have social issues. Now I’m not going to give you the same BS excuses like (insert mocking voice here) “video games give your kid good hand-eye coordinationnd!” and “They can be used in school to help kids learn” no screw that. Also school based games are boring. Except Snail Bob, das sum good s**t. Some kids find it difficult to make friends IRL (In real life) at school, or in the workplace. Not only are online games a catalyst for social growth and interaction, they are also great sources of stress relief and fun activities. I can remember the first video game I ever played was “Halo Combat Evolved” on the Gen 1 Xbox with my dad when I was young when I was 8 years old. Halo is a first person sci-fi shooter where you play as “The Master Chief” a human super soldier who’s mission is to defend all of humanity from the Covenant, a religious society consisting of many different aliens who deemed humanity unfit for continued existence. I would play that game for hours on end and enjoy every second of this. This was ultimately a good thing, because I could talk to the two other kids who knew about the game. They we’re my first real friends other than my classmates, who were just school friends. The point I’m trying to get across is that because of video games, I have managed to develop healthy relationships both virtually and physically. As stated before, they’re also great stress relievers. Taking that away can really hurt a kids mental health. I would know. There were many nights where I would get angry and lash out, or just be depressed and seclude myself in my room. This can be a touchy subject however because some kids lash out when they’re told to “get off the game”. Keep in mind the execution of your request. If your forcing them to abandon their friends, (real human beings who have thoughts and feelings) to come to the dinner table and eat is a just reason to be upset. Your forcing your child to abandon their friends. Don’t YOU think it’s annoying when they take you away from your friends to do or see something your not interested in at the moment? But on the other hand, you could just be asking nicely to get off for a few moments, and they lash out or say something disrespectful. As stated, this can be difficult to deal with. The outcome of this matter depend on the child, the parent, and how the parent approaches the situation. Deal with this matter how you see fit.

    PS. Throwing out a gaming console to discipline a child is a waste of YOUR money, and can be classified as child abuse.

    2) Just stop talking about Fortnight as though it’s the only popular game in existence…

    *Believe it or not, Fortnight is falling out of popularity. If your not seeing this decline, then your not connected to the proper internet sources, or just haven’t been involving yourself enough in the ever changing modern internet. Your child won’t stick to that cringe game forever… Hopefully…

    3) Religion should not dictate if you can play games or not. (This is my personal belief. If your sensitive to talks that don’t hold religion in high regards, feel free to skip)

    *There are many modern gamers that attend religious gatherings, or believe in figures of importance. I myself am not one who goes to church, but I think it’s totally fine if you do. However, if it’s a requirement to go to church, then your being a dumb parent. Church shouldn’t be a requirement. There is a game that was released in 2015 developed by id software and Bethesda called DOOM, which is rated for ages 18+, but let’s be real, many kids younger than that have played worse games (GTA is not one of them) In DOOM, you play as the Doom Slayer, the bane of hell, who was blessed by angles to forever kill demons. It’s another sci-fi fps shooter, but instead of fighting aliens in space, you kill and gore the demons of hell as a very angry man, who tears out the intestines of demons, and rips them apart till they’re bloody mangled corpses. Fun fact, he is celibate (as stated by John Carmack) and is a devout Catholic. The Doom Slayer qualifies as pope!

    4) Get with the times. Learn that video games arent just mindless shooting sims where you take a guy from point A to point B and kill everything in between, and are capable of containing such deep and we’ll fleshed out stories to the point that some games are just out right better than some books in terms of storytelling, and contain characters that feel real, are relatable and likeable, and most importantly, memorable.

    *Games at include all of what was stated in the title range from, but are not limited too…
    -Dark Souls 1,2, & 3
    -The entire Metal Gear Solid franchise
    -The Legend of Zelda
    -Skyrim
    -Mass Effect 1, 2, & 3
    -The entire Dragon Age franchise
    -Gears of War 1, 2, &3
    -God of War
    -Splinter Cell
    -The Witcher series
    – And the list just goes on and on and on and on and on…

    5)Just be there for your kid man, learn what they are playing. (And I don’t mean learn what they’re playing to see if it’s bad or not) learn why they’re attracted to that particular game, what makes it fun, what is interesting about the world or story if it has one to talk about. Maybe you might find some level of understanding for video games and find a hidden respect for them, and subsequently, a newfound respect for your kid, or any gamer for that matter. And who knows, you might be entering a whole new and incredible world that is gaming. I understand that it’s not for everyone, but you never know!

    PS. It’s also a great way to bond with your kids. Me and my dad can just talk for hours on games and be completely satisfied by doing so.

    That’s about all I got to say on the matter. I know I might have gone off track somewhere during that rant, but it’s usually parents who don’t understand video games, so I figured I might as well put my two cents in for s***s and giggles. Before you go however I just have one more thing to say. Right now there is a documentary on Netflix called “Playing Hard” that goes into the emotional development of video games and how it affects the player, and the developer. It’s a great watch and I would highly recommend it.

    Video games are a real thing that are just now making huge waves in society, it’s not a thing to be feared, but a thing to understand and accepted. I’m not at all sorry if you got offended at what I said at any point during this rant. It’s on you if you get butt hurt for letting some stranger who is talking on the internet get to you.

    Alright I’m done, you’ll never see me again so there’s no need to reply unless you really want to. I probably won’t read it, just gonna be real with ya. Please, and I do genuinely mean this, have a good and safe day.

    Reply
    • Val
      Val says:

      We did away with the entire machine for 6 months! We had a tiny incident and dad and i agreed. It’s day 2 of it back however I have a list of things that are valued and respected and followed before game time.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *