Phyllis Law - July 2019

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Protecting Bright Futures

JULY 2019

Bright Futures Bulletin

FORTNITE FAILURE

If you live under a rock and do not knowwhat Fortnite is, let me give you the rundown. Fortnite is an online video game released in 2017 by Epic Games. It became a resounding success, drawing in more than 125 million players in less than a year and earning hundreds of millions of dollars per month. It has since become a cultural phenomenon. The purpose of the game is for the players to kill each other. TheWorld Health Organization has officially classified “gaming addiction” as a mental health disorder. Dr. Richard Freed, psychologist and author of “Wired Child: Reclaiming Childhood in a Digital Age,” reports that the study of addictive technologies has identified some 200 persuasive design tricks in Fortnite. He states that because so many of these persuasive elements are often combined intentionally, it makes for an unfair fight Good for Epic Games, bad for kids.

for parents. Once the brain’s pleasure and reward system is hijacked, nothing a parent offers will feel more satisfying and rewarding than one more chance to play and win. Children need quality time and conversation with their parents, grandparents, and siblings without screens. They need to see friends face to face and interact with them in healthyways. When a child’s main interactions with their peers are through the game itself, they risk never developing the relationship skills needed to thrive as adults. I have my own personal Fortnite story to tell. I have four children. My two oldest, 14 and 12, developed a Fortnite addiction. My 14-year-old son was particularly bad. Since Fortnite entered our lives, I watched my son develop bad habits. He was quick to anger with his sisters if they interfered in anywaywith his “gaming.” He was not getting enough sleep at night, which made him very grouchy. He was turning down social engagements to “game” at home. After many, many months of living in denial, I finally opened my eyes and literally “pulled the plug” on the PS4. I am happy to report that within 60 days of being Fortnite-free, my son changed completely. He is getting more rest. He is practicing basketball more. He is more focused on daily tasks. He is not lashing out at any of the family. His grades improved. He increased his interaction with friends and family members.

Part of the reason parents struggle with policing Fortnite play is that “all the kids are doing it.” As parents, we worry about isolating our children. But, if we all stick together and take control of this situation, all the kids will benefit. I can report from personal experience that the first week without Fortnite is really tough. The second week is a little easier. And by the third week, kids aren’t even asking about it anymore because they’ve discovered life outside of Fortnite. Experts suggest that if you do not want to eliminate Fortnite completely, at least impose some boundaries. They suggest limiting Fortnite play to the weekends only (or while on break from school) and only two hours per day. Also, experts recommend no screen time in any fashion at least one hour before bed. And if you see behavior you don’t like, limit game time even more or eliminate it completely. At PhyllisLaw.com, we are in the business of protecting the bright futures. We believe the best way to do that is to stay on top of the issues our kids are facing every day. Our mission is to have

... if we all stick together

and take control of this situation, all the kids will benefit."

open, honest discussions of potential pitfalls so we can help our kids avoid them. –Phyllis Gingrey Collins

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