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Fortnite: the downfall of our children

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.

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

58 thoughts on “Fortnite: the downfall of our children Leave a comment

  1. I actually think it’s pretty insulting that they’re calling it addictive. Firstly there is no evidence to suggest that media of basically any kind can actually be addictive. Secondly I actually think it’s making light of addiction – which is an actual disease that many people really suffer with. It’s not the same as kids not wanting to do homework.

    There are way too many ‘adults’ who are wildly out of touch with today’s ‘entertainment’ mediums. Fortnite is just an excuse to shift blame from parents not doing what they should be doing – parenting!

    Lazy, sensationalist, pathetic excuse for ‘journalism’. Funny how the YouTube comments are disabled.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Ha ha ha yeah, I noticed that too when I went to get the link for the video and embed it in this post!

      You were spot-on when you said addiction isn’t the same as kids not wanting to do their homework. It’s that time of the year when teenagers should be revising for their GCSEs; Fortnite is free-to-play, making it very accessible; and ‘all the kids at school are playing it’. Sounds like a few coincidences bundled together to make a flimsy premise for a news report to me…

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I really love your fact checking, especially the controller needing to be turned on and two people can only play on a game at the same time on the same screen on with split screen available and on. I was going to say I can’t believe that they would make an error that obvious, but the sad thing is I think I can.

    I agree that children are unlikely to choose homework over video games but that is where parents put in restrictions on how long they can spend on game or things like you have to do your homework before you play anything. When I was younger and school age that was what I grew up with, homework first and games only for whatever specified time that my parents gave me, if I was allowed to on whatever night. I did all my homework and respected that I had time limits. Parents need to be involved in that rather than just leave their children to make that decision.

    Parents also need to make their own informed decisions on what is appropriate to play and should check if there are friend or contact requests etc rather than just leave the children to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When the other-half and I first saw the two children playing together on the same screen, we burst out laughing. It’s almost as though the correspondent wrote the entire report without even checking out the game for herself…

      You’re totally right: it’s all about parents making informed decisions, and not leaving those decisions entirely up to their children. It really frustrates me when you come across a news article that effectively devolves responsibility for parenting to the video game itself – it’s lazy parenting, and lazy reporting on top!

      Liked by 2 people

      • To be fair, the reporter probably didn’t check it out themselves and were probably instructed to do a story on the current game to be outraged by as it is destroying our children.

        It is lazy parenting and lazy reporting but I don’t know that either are going to change sadly at least not any time soon.

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        • There’s a part of me which would really like to get in touch with the correspondent – not to point the finger or lay any kind of blame. But to find out what their processes are and how much scope they have for research, out of sheer curiosity. I’m not sure I’d ever actually be brave enough to contact her though!

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  3. Yeah, my granddad saw a report similar to this in the States and last weekend was talking to me about it. “Did you know that kids’ grades are dropping because of this video game called Fortnite?” I had to explain that yes, kids can use video games irresponsibly if parents and teachers are not actively involved in their lives. I also explained how some teachers are using their class’s love of Fortnite to motivate their students. You’ve got the right of it here: It comes down to how the adults around them teach kids to engage with media.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The teachers at Ethan’s school have been great: they’re aware of his gaming and that we take him to expos, and they use his love of plots to encourage him to write. As a result, he often creates stories in class and his English has improved so much over the past year. An example of how gaming can be used positively to motivate!

      If you happen to have a link to the report you mentioned, feel free to share it so we can all have a read. 😉

      Liked by 3 people

      • That’s awesome that his teachers utilize it to help him with English! I definitely had some teachers like that when I was a kid and it fostered a love of writing that has continued to this day.
        I actually will see my grandfather again this weekend, so I will try to remember to ask him if he remembers where he saw that reported.

        Like

        • That would be good, thank you! It will be interesting compare how it’s reported on in the US compared to the UK… although I’m sure both sides will proclaim about how it’s going to bring about the destruction of the entire human race.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Let’s face it. They care not about research. The intention here is to scare.

    I’m a 43 year old female who plays video games daily. Again I’m not a fan of fortnight myself. But I do play it’s rival, pubg and battlefield. Along with many story driven RPGs. Before I started gaming 3 years ago I feared it. Didn’t understand why my lads spent so much time on it.

    However I’m disabled and mostly house bound. Games give me an avenue into the outside world. They keep my brain active and allow me to socialise.

    Like everything in life, it’s about moderation. Games are not yo blame for kids spending too much time on games. Parents are. Moderate the same as you would alcohol and there won’t be any issues.

    Man up parents and actually check what your kids are doing. Like our parents used too 😉 an interesting read!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey sarahquinn, thanks for stopping by and sharing your story! You give some great examples of how gaming can be a positive experience; there’s so much more to it than just being a form of entertainment.

      That’s why it really grinds my gears when I see news reports like this blaming issues on video games themselves, rather than admit they’re down to poor parenting. As you said: it’s up to parents to find out what their children are playing and make informed decisions as a result!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m so sick and tired of the endless narrative of: ‘Video games are addictive’, ‘video games make kids violent’, ‘strangers can talk to your kids’ etc that the media feels obliged to push out periodically. Children who have parents that are watchful, informed and knowledgeable about the subject are at zero risk.

    Liked by 2 people

    • “Damn, there’s really not much happening in the world today.”

      “What the hell are we going to report on for tonight’s news then?”

      “How about one of those ‘public outrage’ stories we keep in the back of the cupboard?”

      “Great idea! We can even tie it into that game everyone is playing – Weekend, Half-Month or something like that – to generate a few more views.”

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Standard “journalism”. We don’t understand them vidya games! They must be evil!

    A lot of the points there are relevant to most children’s forms of entertainment. Too much is bad. Don’t let it distract them from school. They could be approached by someone they don’t know (more so online, but that’s not solely down to games). This is just lazy reporting at the end of the day. There’s a popular thing, let’s get some “outrage” viewers!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, you make a very good point. The issues cited as being the result of video games can also be relevant to other forms of media, yet nobody seems to complain about kids reading too many books or even watching too many films…

      Has Fortnite taken over your school in the way ITV is implying it has? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • The kids constantly go on about it and ask if I play it, but it doesn’t cause any problems that I’ve noticed. I don’t catch kids playing it in lessons or around school. That just talk about it all the damn time. It’s no different than Minecraft, Fifa, or CoD in that regard really.

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        • That’s the kind of impression I got from how Ethan talks about the kids at his school – that it’s the thing they’re all into right now rather than something to be worried about. Next month it’ll be something else… hopefully.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh noes!! Won’t somebody please save the children from evil video games!! 😱 /sarcasm

    Sigh. Another case of media pulling out the scare tactics to send people in a panic, thus increasing their view stats and whatnot. I’m so used to seeing video games get demonized that I just eye roll about it now. You hit the nail on the head – poor parenting is the downfall of our children, not entertainment media. Great post!

    Like

    • To be honest, if we hadn’t have spotted the kids playing split-screen with one of the controllers turned off, I probably wouldn’t have been outraged enough to write this post. Goes to show you just how frequently reports like this are published nowadays… it’s sad that we’re so used to them. 😞

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I always love your public outrage rebuttals. They’re so intelligently researched! I just wish, after all this time, people would realize that the issue isn’t with the media itself but with the excel of interest that parents take in their kids lives. My parents were always intensely interested in what we played, how often we played it, whether we were ignoring other duties, and making sure we were well-rounded. Blaming things like video games is just a way around admitting the true issue and that they’d rather do anything than admit they may be part of the problem. Take away their phones, watch them play, stop being a backseat parent and be involved. It’s harder for bad things to happen when parents care about their kids lives.

    Like

    • Aw, you’re always much too kind Teri Mae. Thank you! 😘

      My parents were the same: they gave my brother and I a lot of independence, but they were always there to make sure we didn’t overstep the boundaries and give us a good talking to when we needed it. And yes, they did take away the phone (no mobiles back in those days ha ha ha!) and watch us play video games. Since when did it become almost acceptable to not do these things?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Right!? My parents wouldn’t even let us have our own social media’s (back when My Space was still a thing…) until we were 18 because it was too difficult to track what was going on and now 4th graders have smart phones and no parental checks their content! Being a parent hasn’t changed, the dangers haven’t changed, people just don’t want to take responsibility or ‘be the bad guy’ when it comes to raising their kids

        Like

        • You’re right, the dangers haven’t changed. They’ve just evolved into new channels, and that’s something all parents need to be aware of and clued up on. Even if you’re not a fan of gaming yourself, you can still find out what your child is playing – and it’s a good excuse to spend some quality time with them!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes! Try to get invested in their lives. Time spent with children, especially if they see you make an effort in their interests, can open up so many paths later in their lives. Trust and solid relationships can change so much about a child’s development.

            Like

  9. I 100% agree with you, I really hate it when people use video games as something to excuse bad parenting. I’ve been playing video games since I was about six/seven and I’ve turned out to be a balanced individual… sort of.

    Like

  10. Fortnite is amazing. You do NOT need a controller to play it, as it can be played on PC as well as Xbox and PS4. If you’re going to play console, then yes, you do need a controller. This video is hilarious because it shows one TV but presumably both boys playing together. It can’t be split screen. My husband, both of my sons and my nephew all play the game, as do I. As for strangers being able to contact you, if you’re playing on PS4 or Xbox, they can do that no matter what through the chat on those consoles. They don’t have to even add you as a friend first. I searched fortnite because I play it and have recently started blogging about it. There is also the PvE version which ISN’T free, but fun also. I don’t see how this game is “dangerously addictive” as there isn’t anything addictive about it. It’s up to the parents to make sure the kids get their studying done. Take away controllers, etc. My boys come home from school, do chores, do homework then are allowed to play games.

    Like

    • “It’s up to the parents to make sure the kids get their studying done. Take away controllers, etc.”

      And that’s exactly why the responsibility for parenting can never be devolved to the video game itself and why the ITV News report was, quite simply, a load of rubbish. 😉

      Like

  11. I am coming up to my GCSE’s, but here is the thing- i honestly don’t play Fortnite. I have seen many people play Fortnite like some YouTubers but wish not to play it as people are strangely addicted to it. So i agree if they ban the game, it is for many good reasons as people play this game ten times more than they think of revising/ homework/ schoolwork.

    Like

    • Hey there, thanks for stopping by! This is interesting… I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you think that the problem lies with the video game itself, or with the people who play it (and choose to do so over revision, etc)? And how much influence do you think parents have on the matter?

      And also: good luck with those GCSEs! 🙂

      Like

      • I think this affects the people who plays this as most of them are children and can convince them to playing violent games like call of duty. To be honest, I very rarely play many games and if you read my blogs most of them are about games, in which they are. But not games in which I have played, but some youtubers have played. If you look towards the bottom of my Fortnite blog post you will see I added links to youtubers who are comedy youtubers in which play a variety of games. Thanks for commenting on my comment, and may I receive all the luck I need for the GCSE’s. Also I believe this makes the parents annoyed as I heard sometimes the children who play it break things because of what happened like losing a match against the last person.

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        • Yes, I’d read about that in another news report…

          I can see how the frustration of playing a game builds up. Every now again my stepson will get really annoyed if he’s not doing so well and we know that when he starts shaking the controller, it’s time to give him a time-out. If we let him carry on it’s likely something or someone would end up getting hurt – so it’s up to us to step in and ‘be the parents’.

          Like

    • Since writing this post, there have been a number of ‘Fortnite is now even more addictive!’ articles in the news. And all of them are yet to mention anything about the parenting… 🤔

      Liked by 1 person

    • Last night my other-half told me about an interview he’d heard on the radio while at work. There was a women talking about how some children have played far too much Fortnite and gave a ridiculous figure when asked about the number of hours – and when my other-half worked it out, these kids would have had to have spent over a year playing it continuously. 😂

      Like

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