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"I’ve Been Sniped In The Head!"

Updated: Sep 16, 2020

These are just one of the phrases you may have heard if your child or sibling plays Fortnite, just as I’ve heard my son say while totally immersed in this addictive, online multiplayer battle game and they just can’t get enough of it. They spend so much time thinking about this game, even watching youtube videos when they are not playing it.

Kids Playing Online Games
Playing Fortnite

"I think it’s important for kids to have balance and allow them to not miss out on events, so they can be part of the conversation"

Never before has a computer game been so ingrained into popular culture such as Fortnite. You don't need to look very far to see how much it has influenced our daily life and it appeals to such a wide audience. My work colleagues are talking about it, footballers are dancing like the characters in the game when they celebrate scoring a goal, advertisers are picking up on the hype and using it in their ad campaigns. Epic Games, the developers behind the game claim that as of March 2020, they have 350 million users registered to the network. That number is staggering by any stretch of the imagination.

“My favourite part of the game is finding where the chests are and the surprise you get by what you find inside them, or what your opponents have if you kill them,” says my 11 year old son.

We usually allow the kids to play a couple of hours on weekends, but with lockdown, we’ve allowed them to have time on their devices during the week because it’s the only way to connect with their friends.

For the longest time, we didn’t want them to play Fortnite, knowing how addictive it is, but we finally did surrender after months of deliberation. When we finally caved in, we knew it was important to have boundaries and to set limits. We even spoke to other parents in our group before we made the decision for them to play, so we got a sense of how many of their friends were playing it as well. I think it’s important for kids to have balance and allow them to not miss out on events, so they can be part of the conversation. Interacting through games, and other forms of media is the new norm and we certainly don’t want them to feel socially excluded.

Child psychologist, Dr Anderson of Child Mind Institute says there’s a list of important things kids should not miss out on.

That list includes:

  • Participating in extracurricular activities they are excited about.

  • Building positive relationships with family.

  • Seeing friends and interacting with them.

  • Keeping up with academic classes and doing homework.

  • Getting enough sleep.

You might like the idea of saving video games for the weekend, or you might agree that a smaller amount of time every day is suitable, but as long as homework is done first. Whatever you decide, do continue to monitor how your child is doing, Dr. Anderson advises, and don’t be afraid to modify the schedule as needed.

Similarly, here’s a list of some of the things you may want to look out for when identifying a video game addiction:

  • Being completely distracted about getting back to the game.

  • Demonstrating irritable and sometimes aggressive behaviour when they’re not playing.

  • If your child shows physical signs, it’s a pretty clear telltale, they may display fatigue and tiredness due to lack of sleep.

  • A poor diet and lack of appetite

  • Being isolated for many hours and locking themselves away for hours while playing

Our boys have been playing for a few months now and we've not seen any noticeably peculiar behaviour.

If you've identified there is an issue with addiction, then early intervention is key. Continue to set boundaries and make sure they are adhered to in order to encourage a healthy, moderated use of gameplay.

Please comment and share your thoughts and experiences with us, we'd love to hear from you.

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