Some parents are all too familiar with Fortnite - their kids begging to upgrade their noobs with new skins, beating their besties in a Battle Royale showdown and celebrating a Victory Royale win with a feverish “Floss Dance” or “Orange Justice” jive.
It’s no doubt that Fortnite is the most popular game today, but is the trending phenomenon primarily to blame for the bans and digital dangers facing today’s youth?
I think not.
For those parents who have yet to succumb to the craze, Fortnite is an online video game in which players battle in a fight for survival against other participants, hoping to be the last player standing. As players complete challenges and earn experience points, they level up to higher tiers, earn new characters and dress them up in new cosmetic goodies that give them more power and prestige in the online battleground.
With nearly 80 million players as of August 2018, Fortnite is emerging as the most-played game in the world. But the game’s explosive growth isn’t the only highlight hitting headlines lately. The game has been deemed a cause for concern, cautioning parents to be wary about the dangers that can result from the digital download.
First, Fortnite was called out as the main cause for the gaming ban enforced by the management team of the Vancouver Canucks, who, after a lackluster season, decided that the younger players needed to unplug while on road trips to keep their minds on the game.
Then, a story emerged about a series of recent arrests that had been made against predators who attempted to lure minors through the game’s online chat function – thankfully, police intervened by posing as online participants.
Fortnite has also been noted as the main cause of hundreds of divorces, putting online gaming addiction in the spotlight when it comes to the dissolution of marriages in this digital age.
While I agree digital addiction is a dangerous and growing issue, I don’t think that any one game, device or platform is to blame.
The problem isn’t the game itself, it’s the inability to monitor and manage the time consumed by the digital devices on which the games are being played.
Kids are definitely spending too much time in front of screens, but Fortnite isn’t at fault for their digital addictions. Video games have been vying for the attention of children for more than 50 years. I can still remember staying up late playing Asteroids on Atari, and then Super Mario on Nintendo. And while managing screen time was easier when the games were played on large consoles that were plugged into our large living room TVs, today’s more portable gaming devices can still be managed and monitored.
It’s time for parents to stop playing the victims and recognize that the game is a tangible thrill that can be taken away.
Don’t let your child’s download be an afterthought. Do your homework and establish control from the beginning. Set time limits, ensure that the security settings are properly activated, and if the rules aren’t followed, disconnect their devices.
Until a game is developed that you can’t physically take away, the onus is on the parents to take control.
Bianca Bujan is a mom of three, writer, editor and marketing consultant. Find her online at @bitsofbee.