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3 Things to Do if your Son is Obsessed with Fortnite

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, Founder of Technology Wellness Center in Scottsdale.

Is playing Fortnite an earned privilege in your home?

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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 March 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

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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 16-year-old 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? 

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“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….

Before summer comes, 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!

6 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

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