My usual calm and compliant nine-year-old turns into a different boy when armed with his controller and headset. He automatically adopts the persona of a testosterone-fuelled, alpha-male as he struts the Fortnite Terrain with his team by his side.
This is what I despise the most.
It isn’t gaming as such. In moderation, as with anything, I don’t mind it at all. In fact, I think it can be a welcome form of relaxation for children who are growing up in a busy and chaotic world. Of course, I would much rather they engaged in something more ‘wholesome’ like reading, playing outside or board games but this just isn’t the world my kids are living in. Gaming is a key player in our leisure time. My husband enjoys it and we have lived quite happily side by side with Minecraft, Fifa and Forza.
However, Fortnite is a different story.
Not only does my nine-year-old play but my other two children also play. My thirteen-year-old daughter who usually spends time in the world of health and beauty and my football mad 12-year-old have succumbed to the lure. The older ones play, probably once a day, and fortunately are able to moderate the length and frequency. They’ll nip in for half an hour and then potter off to do something else. They laugh and joke as they play.
That is fine.
What worries me is the hold it has on my nine-year-old and the way it turns him into a different person. One without reason, kindness or compassion. As soon as he gets permission to play you can immediately see the excitement and adrenalin starting to build. If the game is delayed because of an update you can literally see the steam coming out of his ears. And then he’s on. We then have a good five minutes of him calling his friends to play. Once they have established their team the mission begins and his Fortnite alter-ego emerges. During gameplay he dictates and demands, declares and despairs. The result of his complete absorption in the game leaves him in a trance like state. He’s never experienced this intense range of emotions before.
He can’t manage it. He can’t cope with it.
As soon as I feel as though the emotions of gameplay are starting to take a grip without him being able to control it, I intervene and dictate that the game over. Following the obvious protest he surrenders and after about five minutes and our happy, funny and calm boy returns.
This is what I hate about Fortnite. It changes my boy.
There has been an abundance of research about the effect of gaming on behaviours and attitudes which I have always taken with a pinch of salt. However, having now experienced the immediate impact of gameplay on my son my viewpoint has changed.
Personally, I can’t wait for this current fad to fade into the history books. For parents out there who are experiencing the same, you are not alone. Every day I will continue to restrict despite his protest.
If we all work towards limiting their gameplay maybe we can bring about the demise of Fortnite?
Who’s up for it?