Fortnite, said to be the most addictive video game of all time, is surely going to be the downfall of our children. Its design and gameplay have made it extremely successful and appealing to teenagers, and it has been downloaded over 40-million times worldwide. But parents should be aware of the risks, not least because it distracts from study-time: youngsters can be contacted by strangers through apps sites and games.
This was the story featured on an episode of the ITV News yesterday evening that my other-half and I happened to watch (we’re usually far too busy playing those damn video games ourselves). Reported by Correspondent Martha Fairlie, the gist of it was that Fortnite could be ‘dangerously addictive’ and is exposing children who play it to a number of dangers. The video is below for anybody who’d like to watch it.
For transparency, I’m not a fan of this title and it’s not something I play at all often. I prefer games which feature narrative over competition and have an objective other than simply winning. But it’s important to set the record straight, particularly when a slow-news-day results in unjustified reporting; and who knows, maybe those experienced correspondents could learn a thing or two from us bloggers.
False: “It takes away from precious study time.”
This isn’t down to Fortnite itself: let’s cut to the chase and admit it’s the result of poor parenting. Give a child a choice between homework and video games, and I bet I can predict with a startling degree of accuracy which they’re going to pick. If your kid is meant to be studying but is instead playing – and you’ve provided them with the means to able to do so – then perhaps it’s your parenting skills which need to be investigated.
False: “Communication is an integral part of the game experience.”
It’s an option but not essential. My stepson Ethan has never played a Fortnite match where Pete or I haven’t been watching him, or have allowed him to communicate with other participants; but this doesn’t detract from his enjoyment and it’s still the game he currently asks to play most frequently. The appeal comes from competing against 99 other plays for first-place, not necessarily from talking to them through ‘voice chat and text chat’.
True and false: “It’s really important parents are aware of the risks of this game.”
It’s actually important for parents to be aware of the risks of any game. Whether it’s free-to-play or purchased, online or offline, multiplayer or single-player; it’s up to you to understand what your child is playing and find out for yourself whether the content is suitable. Don’t leave it to an age-rating on the packaging or some poorly-researched report on the evening news to do your parenting for you.
True: “One in four children have been contacted by someone they don’t know.”
Similar to above, it’s also important to know who your kid is talking to and what they’re getting up to. We’ve been careful to teach Ethan that it’s not ok to talk to strangers online or accept any kind of friend request until we’ve properly checked them out. I’m well aware that his obedience will likely change as he moves into his teenage years, but that won’t stop us from making sure we’re aware of what he’s playing and who he’s interacting with.
False: The controller doesn’t need to be turned on.
Later Levels (@LaterLevels) May 02, 2018
Come on, ITV News: if you’re going to report on a video game then at least make sure you’ve done your research properly, because we’re going to notice if you haven’t. Two gamers can’t play the same title on the same screen when it doesn’t contain a split-screen mode. And the controller does actually need to be turned on in order to be of any use, so you might want to edit some of those clips used in your video.
Next you’ll be telling us that games incite violence and property damage…