BOSTON (CBS) – Fortnite has taken the world by storm with reportedly more than 50 million players around the globe. Not surprisingly, American children have also been swept up in the frenzy and have been waiting with bated breath for Thursday’s Fortnite season 5 release.
While there are some potential downsides to children playing the popular game, there may be some potential benefits as well.
Fortnite says it’s intended for children age 13 and older, but there are plenty of younger kids indulging as well. If left to their own devices, many kids would play for hours on end, which can interfere with their sleep, diet, school performance, and other activities.
Fortnite is a violent game in the sense that that players try to “eliminate” each other with guns and other weapons but the graphics are somewhat cartoonish without blood or gore.
On a positive note, Fortnite does have a strong social component where kids can chat and interact with friends in the room and online, so if you walk by a child playing the game, you usually hear a lot of animated chatter. This can be beneficial for kids who may be shy or more socially withdrawn.
Most experts agree that technology and screen time is not all bad for kids but should be monitored and restricted.
To start, parents should play video games with their children so they can see what they’re doing and whom they’re talking to online.
Explain to your kids that playing games is a privilege and that there are rules. For example, a child may only get to play for a certain amount of time or only during certain hours of the day. And there must be consequences for breaking the rules. For example, if a child is caught playing at a time when they’re not supposed to, they may lose video game privileges for a few days.
Another strategy is a “1:1 rule” which means for every hour a child plays Fortnite, he must spend an hour engaging in some other activity, like reading, playing basketball outside, spending time with the family, or watching an educational show.
Enforcement can be a challenge, but parents can often set up parental controls through their cable company to limit and monitor a child’s video game usage and place restrictions on whom a child can engage with online.