Advice Column, Child, Parenting, Tween & Teen

“FORTNITE”- Friend or Foe?

By Sonia Jansen, Deputy Principal of Academics at Crawford Preparatory North Coast

Recently, I’ve had the privilege of running a Nintendo Club for a group of over 40 children from Grade 5 to Grade 7. The Nintendo Schools League offers children the opportunity to game competitively in a safe environment under supervision. Only one game is played in the club – Splatoon 2 – a game with an age rating of 10+.

Competitive banter and excited cheers were the hallmark of our afternoon gaming sessions. In this time, I became pretty au fait with the terminology and social interaction between young gamers and learned that many of young players spend time playing a particular game called Fortnite.

Fortnite, an online, multiplayer shooter game played by an estimated 50 million people daily, is free and easily accessible to anyone with internet access and a range of devices. Basically, players find themselves on an island and have to fight for resources, weapons and ultimately, survival. While online, players chat to each other. Each game can last in the region of 20 minutes.

Common Sense Media (https://www.commonsensemedia.org/game-reviews/fortnite), a website providing independent reviews, rates Fortnite at 13+. 

Realising that some of the players are as young as 8, I was prompted to investigate further. So for the information of parents out there who aren’t too sure what the game is about, here are some of my observations:

Cautions:

  • There is some violence (however, not as much, or as brutal and realistic, as many other games out there).
  • Play is online and team members can essentially be anyone.
  • Communication is open between the team members, which may expose young children to unsupervised contact with gamers they do not know.
  • Children are found to be playing until early hours of the morning, which has an impact on learning, academic performance and social interaction when they’re tired and cranky the next day.

Positives:

  • A team game, Fortnite requires a measure of collaboration and communication.
  • The need for strategy may encourage executive functioning skills such as critical thinking and organisation.
  • In fact, the game as a whole, requires quite a lot of skill.

So – the choice is yours …Ultimately, the decision to let your child play Fortnite, or not, is a personal one. My recommendation is that if you are going to allow your child to play any computer games, consider the following:

  • pay attention to the recommended age rating 
  • ensure that their play time is monitored and that devices are left in a “time-out” box in the living room, rather than their bedroom. 
  • play with your child – teach them how to game safely under your guidance and supervision.
  • monitor their response to the game and the level of violence of that particular game, and let your decision be guided by your own knowledge of your child.
  • limit their game time – many hours of unchecked playing can lead to physical and social issues.
  • consider the opinions and advice of other parents by reading as much as you can about the games your children choose to play.

For more information, and to read parent reviews on Fortnite, you can go to: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/game-reviews/fortnite 

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