My 10-year-old is crazy about Fortnite and I decided to investigate what it’s all about – for me and every other parent who is suffering from screen time hell, “I just need to finish this game” (which can last for an hour).
So, the game is an online video game where players compete to be the last person standing in a post-apocalyptic world. My son and his friends all play Fortnite Battle Royale, which seems to be the most popular version. My research found that up to around 100 players can be playing against each other at the same time and the point of the game is to stay alive on an island.
I asked my son to describe what the game was about and he replied
you can blow-up structures, collect new weapons and get supplies and new armour.”
There’s shooting involved, but because the graphics are cartoon-style and there is no “blood”, in gaming terms this means that it is not seen as too gory or heavy. However, I tried to play and found the flashing lights and shooting a little too much, but that might be my age. I have tried to play a number of games and my eyes just can’t hack it. I feel like I’m on a virtual rollercoaster and get quite squeamish; but then I am a really old 44 years old!
The age recommendation for the game is 12 and above, due to it having ‘mild violence.’ However, I know that the majority of kids at my son’s school, aged from 8 and above are playing it as I hear my son on his headset to them (I make sure that the door is open if he is wearing his headset so I can hear EXACTLY what is being said). You don’t have to give your age when you create an account, so younger children can easily get into the game and play.
Across the World there are a whopping 45 million players and I read that the England Football Team apparently played the game in their downtime during the last World Cup, so it appeals to grown-ups too (or they were told to play it, talk about it and get paid for it!)
I suppose my main headache with the game is that my son is talking to strangers. Like I said before, he only games with his bedroom door open so that I can hear him anytime I wish. If he shuts the door, then there is a 24-hour ban. My rule with him and my 12-year-old is “if you don’t want me to hear what you are saying, then you shouldn’t be saying it! The game goes off”.
There are also in-app purchases, but I truly believe that my two would never dare to buy anything without asking as they know that I get an email alert as soon as there is a purchase. They have been told, since their fingers first touched a controller, that if there is ever a purchase from my bank account, for which they were not given permission, the game goes off for a week! It has therefore never happened. I think we have all read shocking articles where parents have received huge bills when children have been making purchases without permission. With card details stored within the games console, it’s easily done.
Like all games I think there is an addictive nature to the game because they just don’t want to turn it off. Every time I politely ask, I get the response “I just have to finish this match or game”. I looked into this and soon realise that a battle only lasts about 20 minutes max. So, from that point of knowledge I took no more nonsense and set a screen limit app to give 25 minutes warning ahead of closing down. If my son decides to start a new game with not enough time, that’s his problem. He soon realised that it really isn’t worth it to start a game after 20 minutes. Now, more often than not, he switches his device off with a couple of minutes to spare.
I think it’s a really great idea to play the games your kids are playing, just to get an idea about what’s happening. I found that my children actually really enjoyed me engaging with them, even though I was rubbish! I think they found that even more hilarious!
Make sure your children know about voice chat safety too. If someone is being mean to them, show them that they can switch the voice chat to mute. That’s the good thing about virtual friends. With the click of a button, they are gone.
If you have any more Fortnite tips, please send them into us. It’s really worthwhile getting some kind of screen time app on the gaming console and phones.
If you feel that your child has issues around gaming or that the household is starting to only function around “gaming time” pop into The Hug Directory and have a chat to a Parenting Coach in your area. Some of them run classes on particular themes, with gaming high on the list.
Group Hug Blogger and Mum