Fortnite addiction has been the subject of so much negative chatter recently, including the fact that it can land the player in video game rehab. I’ve read articles (some serious!) and seen so many (often hilarious) social media posts and memes about the dreaded craze over Fortnite. I was part of that dread for a while — I truly hate guns and violence and don’t want my kids participating in games that portray it. And I of course don’t want my kids addicted to a video game, unable to tear themselves away from it for family dinner or a face-to-face conversation. But I tend to be a glass-half-full kind of person. So, assuming your little video game player is not close to true addiction, here’s a look on the bright side:
10 reasons Fortnite is more friend than foe:
THE DANCING! Yes, I grew up as a dancer. Yes, we have impromptu raves at my house with my kids’ disco light and whatever music they choose. But even if that’s not your thing, it is undeniably hilarious to see these kids randomly bust into dance moves. Orange Justice, The Hype . . . whichever it is, it makes me laugh to see my boys bustin’ a move. Even my littlest love, who has never played the game, has learned the dances. And these kids do them everywhere: Walking across the room, standing in line at the ice cream shop, waiting for a movie to start . . . school? Hopefully not school. But maybe recess. I think we should cherish the lack of inhibition . . . if we did this as adults, we’d certainly get funny looks. Thank you, Fortnite, for empowering my kids to express themselves.
Kids are talking about it . . . to us! You know how we say “How was your day at school?” and get a one-word answer? Or how we wish that, in general, our kids would want us as key conversation partners forever, but as they get older, they tend to chat more with friends than with parents? Not the case with Fortnite! I receive lengthy, detailed updates about what new skins are available, how many V-bucks are saved up, what new worlds appeared, who was online . . . I admit I don’t understand it all, but my kids are TALKING . . . TO ME. And I love that.
Money-saving habits: Speaking of V-bucks, they are actually helping to teach my boys how to plan their money, how to manage their finances! They’ve asked to do chores to earn money to put toward V-bucks so they can get a battle pass or whatever. They are tallying how much money they have and deciding whether to save up for something more costly in the game. I call this WINNING!
Teamwork: At first, I was annoyed that my son was connecting via the game with other people. But once we established rules that he can only play online with people he really knows, and once I heard the kids working as a team, I didn’t have much reason to complain about it anymore. They cheer each other on. They smacktalk a bit, too, but that’s part of the team spirit and drive for a win. Now the only thing that annoys me about it is the fact that my kid feels the need to speak loudly enough that you can hear him wherever you are (literally! whatever city you’re in!), even though he has on headphones and a microphone right on his face.
Strategy: Not only are the kids talking with friends online, they’re also strategizing! I hear them deciding when to team up vs. when to go solo, which weapons to use, which method to play (playground, etc.). It’s not far off from how they strategize when they play tag or Nerf wars or Hide and Seek or any other offline game. It’s a key part of play, and an important life-skill to learn. Right?
Cool graphics: I dislike many video games because they simply look too realistic. I especially dislike those games when there’s violence involved, because I don’t want it to desensitize the kids into thinking that these actions and impacts are harmless in the real world. In the real world, there’s no restart or reset button. But I decided recently that I can’t keep my kids from playing these games just because the graphics are good and realistic. It’s just how games are these days. It would be like my parents not letting me watch color TV as a kid because it was black and white when they first had it. There have been times when one son is playing NHL on Xbox, and I walk in the room and ask what teams are playing, thinking for a moment that it’s a real game on TV. Good job technology; and kudos to you, video game developers! We’ve come a long way since Q-bert.
Discipline tactic: My kids love Fortnite. Which means they don’t like for me to take it away. Enough said. If we’re in a situation where there is rule-breaking, disrespect, out-of-line behavior . . . anything that needs discipline — the words “You just lost Fortnite for a week” have become quite powerful (and right now, one of the only effective punishments in my house).
Rewards: On the flip side — it is also a bringer of joy. If all is going well, and we are looking to sprinkle a little reward on the kids, granting them “one extra game” or a gift card of V-bucks or an extra 20 minutes to play goes a long way. It shows them we understand their passion and interest . . . and it gives me a chance to empty the dishwasher.
It’s got good music: Be honest . . .you’ve caught yourself humming it while walking down the grocery store aisles, right? Or picturing your kids doing a funny dance while the song goes around your head? Much like the improved graphics vs. when I was a kid, the music has also certainly advanced.
Teaching and Pride: My nephew loves to teach my kids new things in Fortnite. My kids love to teach each other and show their friends. And the look on their face when they’re showing and sharing their skills is one that is full of smiles and pride. Likewise, as they practice and learn more moves and advance in the games, they feel like they’ve accomplished something. Even if it is in a video game, it shows them that persistence and practice pay off.
So there you have it. And, no, I haven’t completely drunk all the Kool-Aid. Fortnite and I still have our moments where I want to pull the plug and never put it on again. But, knowing we’re not at the point of Fortnite addiction, when I look on the bright side, it’s not as bad as it once seemed.
What do you think?