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?
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
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.
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.”
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.
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?
“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!