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Fortnite is the hottest game in the world. A viral teenage obsession. In a recent talk to students in Brisbane, the crowd erupted when I mentioned Fortnite. Over 40 million people played it last month alone 1 1. Fortnite now has 125 million total players × . The Fortnite: World Cup has just been announced with over $100M in prize money 2 2. The first Fortnite World Cup with $100 million in prize money is happening in 2019 7 × .
So teenagers are playing a video game, what’s the big deal? Parents report losing their sons to Fortnite addiction 3 3. Parents are losing their sons to Fortnite, the hottest game in the world × – including one who emailed me that she discovered her son stole her credit cards and spent over $200 on the game.
In the U.K., a 9 year old girl has been sent to rehab 4 4. Girl, 9, in rehab for Fortnite game addiction after wetting herself to keep playing × for Fornite addiction, after wetting herself to keep playing. When her parents removed the game, she attacked them.
Should you be concerned about Fornite? And if you are, what can you do about it?
What is Fortnite: Battle Royale?
- Rating: Players aged 12 and up.
- Cost: Free. Battle passes available for purchase to earn extra rewards.
The multiplayer ‘Battle Royale’ version involves up to 100 people playing against each other and is the version your child is probably playing or wanting to play (as opposed to the Save the Day solo version which is also available but probably not the one your child is obsessing over).
It is a shooter game (of a similar vein as Hunger Games) where players are dropped unarmed onto an island. There, they must make their way to ‘houses’, where they find weapons they then use to shoot and kill, they build structures and try to avoid the destructive storm that threatens all outside its safe zone. The last player standing after all else are killed is deemed the winner.
Unlike many online games where you are ‘respawned’ should you die and are able to continue to play, keeping alive is the difference between winning and losing and means a lot more in Fortnite than in many other shooter games. 5 5. The Modern Parents Guide to Fortnite ×
Warning Signs of Fortnite Addiction
Video game addiction is real, and the World Health Organization has officially classified it under the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).
Gaming Disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour, which may be online or offline, manifested by:
- impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context);
- increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities;
- continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.
The behaviour pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.
The pattern of gaming behaviour may be continuous or episodic and recurrent. The gaming behaviour and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.
Video Game Addiction Test
The American Psychiatric Association recommends a set of nine questions to screen for a video game addiction. Take our quiz below:
Common Mistakes Parents Make
Chances are, you’ve already tried countless things to help your teenager:
Here’s what you tried: You removed their devices, and took away the modem.
Here’s why it didn’t work: Your teenager throws a tantrum so intense you feared for their life. Maybe they even got violent. Your teenager also still needs access to the computer in order to complete their homework, so simply removing devices is only so realistic.
Try this instead: You must enroll them in the process. Taking away their access without supporting them to fill the void can be very dangerous for them. Your teenager must be part of the process! Learn more about this in Reclaim
Here’s what you tried: You told them their friends online weren’t their real friends.
Here’s why it didn’t work: Their online gamer friends are their real friends, and usually, their only friends. When you tell them to quit gaming, what they really hear is to stop having friends.
Try this instead: They need help making new friends outside of gaming. They don’t know where to start, or what to talk to people about other than gaming. Most kids at school play games. Help them join clubs and find new group activities.
Here’s what you tried: You told them games are a waste of their potential.
Here’s why it didn’t work: Gaming is where they feel a sense of accomplishment. When you tell them games are a waste of their potential, you’re not acknowledging the incredible accomplishments they have made in their games. “I wish they fully grasped the gravity of what I’ve accomplished in games over the years…” -Rushlite
Try this instead: By being curious, and learning more about the accomplishments of your son or daughter in their games, you will build rapport with them. Rapport creates trust, and trust creates influence. Start to have conversations about gaming – what games they play, what they enjoy about them, and so forth. Be genuine!
Here’s what you tried: You just let them continue to game, giving them responsibility for their decisions.
Here’s why it didn’t work: They are unable to moderate their time. They continue to game even amongst their knowledge that gaming is negatively impacting their life. 84% of gaming addicts knew they had a problem over 12 months ago!
Try this instead: Support them in improving their time management skills. Help them create environments conducive to their ability to focus, such as bringing them to the library to study. You have to be both parts equal support while not enabling their problematic behavior further.
Here’s what you tried: You bought them their new favorite game or console.
Here’s why it didn’t work: Games are specifically designed to hook your teenager. Gaming companies use state of the art practices, and behavioral psychologists to make their games as pleasurable (and addictive) as possible.
Try this instead: By understanding more about why your teenager is drawn to games, and how games are specifically designed to hook your teenager, you will be empowered to support your teenager to have a healthy relationship to gaming (and technology).
Extra Support for Parents
Cam’s book Reclaim is brilliant and is highly needed. We strongly recommend Reclaim to parents seeking help and solutions for their kids struggling with digital media overuse. – Andrew Doan, MD, PhD (author, speaker, and neuroscientist) and Julie Doan, RN (author, speaker, and life coach)