If you know anything about the recent trending game “Fortnite Battle Royale,” you’d probably say I’m the meanest mom in the world for banning it in my house.
It’s amazing how popular the game has become. Over 200 million are registered as users, making it even more popular than porn. Some might say, “Wouldn’t you rather your son be playing a video game than watching porn?” But I think I’d prefer to go with neither!
I know all the pros of the game and have wrestled with them, too. It’s social; it’s a great way for sons to bond with dads; its only cartoon violence – etc.
But I have my reasons for not allowing my kid to play it, and here are seven of them.
The alarming weapons roster. I know the violence is bloodless, but those weapons are pretty real and pretty scary. From shotguns to semi-automatic sniper rifles to pistols and more, it certainly makes guns seem more like toys rather than a dangerous weapon – a fact that we are trying to instill in our son. Letting him play around with one like this certainly sends a confusing message.
It’s cartoon violence. And along those lines, I’d almost rather my kid being seeing the horrific results of violence they’ve inflicted rather than it seeming inconsequential and bloodless. If they can’t handle blood, guts, victims screaming, and heartbroken families, then they’re not ready to be playing around with this stuff either.
The do-or-die premise. If you aren’t already familiar with the game, one hundred wannabe-killers are dropped on an island, and the point is to be the last man standing. Research is still being done on how violent entertainment impacts kids, and the findings have been conflicting, but I seriously doubt letting your child regularly identify with a murdering machine is beneficial.
It’s costing me money. I remember the good old days when we’d cut grass and clean to earn pennies for the bike we were saving up to purchase. Now, money is being wasted on “Fortnite” extras. Epic Games has made over $2.4 billion from “Fortnite” — an otherwise free game — in 2018, according to Nielsen’s SuperData! Money from my wallet sure isn’t going towards this!
It’s interfering with school. Twenty-seven percent of teens surveyed by Common Sense Media in 2018 reported playing “Fortnite” in class. It’s not helping them get somewhere in life, that’s for sure.
It’s killing IRL playdates. My son used to invite friends over to play outside or to build a fort – or even to play Wii. Now, playdates consist of hanging out online playing “Fortnite.” If that were occasional, it wouldn’t be so bad, but it’s shouldn’t replace in-person interaction.
It’s like kid crack. Much research has concluded that video games flood our brains with dopamine, a happy chemical that floods in when you do something like winning a poker game, eat chocolate, or shoot heroin. Games like “Fortnite” are intentionally designed to do this, delivering small rewards that cause your brain pleasure and make it come back for more – again and again, and again.
Honestly, there are times I feel badly for my son, especially when everyone else is doing it. All his friends talk about it just about 24/7, so am I his worst enemy? There’s still a lot I allow, like FIFA 19. How mean of a mom am I, really? I decided to ask a leading national expert in video game research.
“Older adults tend to freak out about any youth trend. The data do not support that there’s any epidemic of game addiction,” says Chris Ferguson, a psychology professor at Stetson University in DeLand, Fla. “You’re thinking about this and looking for data. That certainly doesn’t make you the worst mom ever. I’m sure your son doesn’t really think so either!”
Let’s hope he’s thanking me when he grows up!