I know now how my parents must of felt when I would ask for something they did not want me to have but every other kid around us had. It must be something like how I felt when Fortnite became the in thing, and for the longest time I held my ground that it was absolutely not allowed in our house. I was not comfortable with the guns and the fact that you play and communicate with strangers. It wasn't until the pandemic started that I noticed the mental health of my 8 year old was taking a huge hit he missed interacting with his friends...with anyone outside of the home for that matter. So as a way to connect with friends we decided to allow Fortnite under some strict rules and regulations.
Before we approved the game in our house we actually played it first. I highly recommend doing this! Playing it for ourselves allowed us to learn how to control the settings, learn about the kinds of violence in the game, and the more familiar you are with the systems and games children use the more control and support you can have over them. I also found out why it is so addicting for children this game is always changing its always offering ways to gain rewards and new levels....there is never a dull moment! The game is filled with familiar superhero and other movie characters, cool dance moves, and new items you can win and buy. One of the biggest things we learned was you can control who talks to who within the game, you can also control who you choose to be in your "party". You can play games solo and you can choose to only be friends with people you know by finding their own gamer tag name, you can even mute your game so you don't hear anyone's conversations when you are playing a solo game. All these controls can be found in the games settings, and I must say it offers the most control I've seen so far.
All in all here are the pros and cons I've discovered when allowing Fortnite:
pro: In this day in age it offers connection with peers when we need to do so at a distance. We were even able to create virtual Fortnite play groups all supported and monitored by parents and the kids really enjoyed that time.
con: It is addicting and even when highly regulated in our home I sometimes feel like its all Liam thinks about.
Pro: It boosts confidence, again in this day in age when we haven't always had that in person interaction this is a way Liam was able to connect with his friends and they all helped, strategized, and lifted each other up.
Con: There are in game purchases that we had to limit and explain that although we are ok with Liam playing the game we were not going to make an ongoing financial investment to the game.
Additionally, I made it clear that allowing more video games in our home was not an open door for video game time to just be endless. This is why we have implemented strict limits on game time chores and educational activities to be done before and after game times. We put a schedule together and as long as Liam is following the schedule he knows when the game time is and how long its for.
Key takeaways here are:
If you have the time I highly recommend playing the game a few times yourself before approving it in your home.
Set time limits on how long the game can be played and how many times day you will allow playing.
Set all controls within the game one if the biggest concern with this game is that you can communicate with anyone through the internet and that's not something I'm not comfortable with.
Help connect with friends YOU KNOW. I even emailed parents of the children in my sons class to get together game pods and it really was a lot of fun!
Sit within hearing distance of your child when they are playing the game the idea is to monitor as much as you can.
In my opinion there are some things as a parent I simply cant avoid and video games along these lines seem to fall into this category. I really took this as an opportunity to teach Liam how to approach using these games in a smart way and how to be careful. Truth is I can't always be with him and there will be many situations where he will be faced with Youtube, scary movies, internet communicating video games, etc and I would like him to know how to properly use the technology and be mindful of what is and isn't appropriate.
I hope you find this helpful and helps you make the right decision for your family. As always I'm happy to connect for any questions etc!