Are you a parent struggling with what to do with your Fortnite-playing child?
I hear it time and time again. Almost daily as a matter of fact.
“What do I do when my child starts throwing things, hitting things and tantruming when I ask them to stop playing Fortnite?”
“Or while they’re playing the game?”
“They become so loud and just yell at their friends the entire time they’re playing. How do I handle that?”
“How do I limit the amount of time they’re on this game, since it can go on for hours at a time?”
“What age is even appropriate for my child to play this game?”
The questions seem endless. And I get it. With any new game on the market, parents want to act in the best interest of the child. Perhaps I’m hearing about it more during the summer since there is more free time with kids, especially those not consumed with camps, trips, and the like.
So here is my best attempt to answer some of these questions from a therapeutic lens.
First and foremost: Limit the time they spend on this game
I know, I get it, the rounds can be endless and don’t necessarily have a time limit – they go until they die, or all die, or something like that. Regardless, it’s still important to set some sort of time limit on this game. If that means setting a timer (whether on your phone or even those you can get for your kitchen); or giving your child a 15-, 10-, 5- and 1-minute heads up that you will be turning the game off, then do so. You have more control than you think. Also, I’ve had some parents turn off wi-fi as needed, which I also think is a great strategy.
Secondly: Have them take lengthy breaks in between playing games
There is A LOT of stimulation going on in this game!! They are fighting, building, killing, destroying, running, dancing…you name it, it’s being done. Not to mention all the while they are communicating with their friends (or someone they don’t even know) while they are playing. That is a lot for ANY brain to handle, let alone a still developing and fledgling brain. They will NEED a break for the dust to settle. Anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour in between playing sets is the LEAST that could be helpful.
Third: Give them an outlet where they can appropriately and properly express their pent up anger and aggression
After all of that energy has built up, they need a way to get it out of their bodies appropriately. This could be a fidget, a punching bag, running shoes…whatever your child enjoys, and even if they say they don’t enjoy anything, their bodies don’t believe that. Their bodies are designed to expel energy (case in point, watch them while playing this game). Therefore, encourage them to move around, get out of the house, step into action. They will thank you later.
Finally: Praise them when you see behaviors you desire
After playing such a game and you have followed the above steps, you now want to look for opportunities to catch them being good. In other words, while they may still get upset or worked up during the next game or in between games, look for times when they respond just a LITTLE bit differently than before and closer to the desired behavior. For instance, if they normally throw something and yet this time they only grab an item but don’t release, let them know. “Great job for holding on to that remote! I really appreciate how you didn’t throw it!” I know, it sounds weird to praise them for such a thing, but believe me, it works. No child wants to be in trouble. No child wants to destroy things willingly.
They only want to be loved. They only want to express themselves. They only want to get their energy out in an appropriate manner and be recognized for such.
So there you have it – a couple of action items you can take to help your child manage this whole world of Fortnite. It’s a lot to take in for not only you as the parent, but the child as well. So make sure you all have some plan in place, some proactive strategy or strategies for the ‘just in case.’ Remember, ultimately it’s up to you as the parent to determine what works best for all parties involved. The bottom line is that it is ok to set limits!
And as always, I’m open to thoughts, suggestions and questions! This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but at least a good start.