3 Things Parents Need to Know About the Video Game Fortnite
By Katherine Harrington, Contributing Writer
Fortnite is an extremely popular multiplayer video game that has made a very deep cultural impact, drawing more than 125 million players. The game has three different modes, including a version in which players play together to complete missions, a “Battle Royale” version where players fight to the death, and then a creative mode which allows users to build their own maps and battlegrounds. New research continues to reveal the negative effects that violent video games have on children, as well as the increase of Fortnite addictions among children.
The Adolescent Mind
Fortnite’s CEO Tim Sweeney says that the game was designed to be a “social experience.” Yet, many may not know that players range anywhere from 10-54 years old, though 61% of players are under 24 years old. This draws in children who aren’t typically even using social media. Even the widely used social media platform Facebook mandates an age requirement of 13, but Fortnite has no age minimum or maximum.
Some parents might not conduct the research about Fortnite to know this, however, which begs the question, do parents really know what their children are being exposed to? According to a study done by the University of Bristol, over 2 hours of gaming a day can lead to psychological problems, “including loneliness, unhappiness and sometimes increased aggression.”
Fortnite also exposes young minds to sexualized character avatars who are often scantily clad and perform gyrating dance moves. This increase in sexual exposure for younger developing minds could lead a child towards violent behavior, a logical explanation to the addiction which is found in the game. On average, Fornite replaces 39% of free time spent by tweens and teenagers, making up nearly half of the 86% of free time which children spend on screens. That leaves only 14% of tweens and teens free time to social interaction, which is face to face and doesn’t include headsets.
Movieguide® constantly warns readers about the correlation between gaming and violence. As previously reported, some children are so addicted to the video game that their behavior is necessitating professional help. “He’s been shouting, screaming, punching things. One parent said, “he hit the TV with the controller and smashed the screen because he was so frustrated when he lost.”
Setting an Example
So, where does this leave parents? Gaming in itself is not evil or wicked, but it’s true that too much of a “good” thing can turn into a bad thing. With this in mind, parents should take practical steps to ensure their child’s well-being. Parents and players alike should make informed decisions on time spent gaming, and the balance that they want their own children to maintain with their direction. Parents need to teach the next generation these healthy habits.
Here are some practical tips every parent should consider with Fortnite and for future games that becomes the next big thing.
- Play the game yourself to see firsthand what the content matter looks like. Is there violence? How graphic is it? Do video games bring out aggressive behavior in your child?
- Make sure your child isn’t able to communicate with strangers on the game.
- Limit game time. For every hour spent playing a video game, make it a rule that your child must spend an equal amount of time reading a book or playing outside.
Media has changed so drastically over the past few decades, so it’s important to point out that things won’t revert back to when you were growing up. However, with education and teaching media discernment, we can take control of creating a healthy tomorrow.
For more insight into these matters, read Movieguide® founder Dr. Ted Baehr’s books, The Media-Wise Family and The Culture-Wise Family.
What parameters do you set with your children and gaming?