Fortnite how to deal with child addiction

Where does the fascination for the shooting game Fortnite come from?

Fortnite is currently that worldwide most popular video game.
Why Charmed the shooting game so many youngsters? And how do parents know that their child is addicted to games?

Text: Jochen Metzger
Images: Alamy, ZVG

I'm floating on a parachute over a strange island. The ground is getting closer, soon the firing starts. Because 99 more players land with me. We will fight, each against each other - until there is only one of us left.

After about 20 minutes, the winner is determined. For me, the game ends after 120 seconds: a female character kills me with a shotgun. I take my hand off the keyboard, my pulse slowly calms down. Should i try again? D rather not. The others are just too good for me. Too young - and way too fast.

Fortnite Battle Royale

The game that let me fail so early is called Fortnite Battle Royale. It is currently the most popular video game in the world. As my 17-year-old son explains to me, the “greatest hype” he has ever experienced. "Everyone's playing that right now."

And it works as always when something pulls the children under its spell like this: Parents are worried. Is the new game eating too much time? Should it be forbidden? And what makes Fortnite so attractive to children? There are many extreme answers to this in the newspapers and on the Internet. Most of them have one thing in common: they are incorrect.

Seven misconceptions about Fortnite - and seven truths parents should know.

1st mistake: everyone plays Fortnite

This is of course nonsense. There are around 40 million active players worldwide per month (as of early June 2018). There are an incredible number of them - but significantly fewer than "all of them". Figures for individual countries are not available. Many children and young people from Switzerland have never played Fortnite. But everyone has probably heard of it.

The American computer game researcher and professor Dmitri Williams draws attention to another fact: About 15 percent of all people can't play Fortnite for more than a few minutes. You get seasick - because the images move so quickly and frantically.

2nd misconception: Fortnite Battle Royale is for children from twelve

That is not completly correct. An official age rating (“from 12”) is only available for the original game Fortnite, which is subject to a charge. In this version you don't fight against other players, but against zombies. The clearly more popular online version called Fortnite Battle Royale has no age limit at all.

The game's advisor for the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia estimates that the game is aimed at “young people aged 14 and over”. For younger children, the matter could be "too nerve-wracking". In fact, many 8- and 9-year-olds are also users. For most of these children, this is far too early.

3. Misconception: Fortnite is a pure shooting game

Fortnite is not a game for pacifists. If you don't fight, you can't win. Nevertheless, you don't just have to run and shoot, you also have to build things. For example, a staircase to climb a mountain, a wall to hide behind, or a tower to better see your opponents.

Fortnite looks like a mixture of Lego world and paintball. Experienced players say: When in doubt, it is not the better shooter who wins - but the better builder.

Mistake 4: Fortnite is free

The game actually costs nothing at first. All you need is a computer, Xbox, Playstation, tablet or mobile phone - and fast internet access. Nevertheless, the manufacturer Epic Games earns almost $ 300 million per month with Fortnite.

Where does the money come from? Very easily: You can buy so-called “skins”, ie particularly cool outfits, for just under nine francs in the game. In addition, these figures are then also able to perform certain victory dances - which are already being imitated by football professionals. The skins do not bring any advantages for the game. Marketing works like in real life: A special taste costs money - and when everyone else is wearing expensive branded clothes, no one wants to stand in the corner as an H&M guy.

The money transfer is child's play and, by the way, also legal, because the respective sums are in the pocket money range. In this way, however, children can get rid of a proud part of their savings.

Mistake 5: The success of Fortnite was precisely planned

The game's designers did their homework. At first glance, Fortnite looks like a harmless comic, as bright and colorful as Heidi or Maya the Bee. Blood never flows. Figures disappear in pretty clouds of light. But many games are well made today, but only a few are successful.

It's like in pop music or Hollywood: “Nobody knows anything” - basically nobody knows what exactly will be a hit. From a certain number of fans, however, there is an avalanche effect: The friends play Fortnite, so you try it too. “You just want to belong, that's one of the basic human needs,” says Dmitri Williams. "As banal as it sounds: But Fortnite is popular mainly because it is popular."

6th misconception: Fortnite is "totally social" - or "totally dangerous"

You can also play Fortnite in team mode: you learn how to work in a team and strengthen relationships with your friends. "For some children, spending time with friends is the most interesting thing about the whole game," explains Dmitri Williams. The makers of Fortnite know this. That is why a so-called “voice chat” is automatically activated between members of a team. So you can talk to your teammates by default. But what if you play with strangers and one of them turns out to be an adult with bad intentions?

The British press has reported two such cases. A 10- and a 12-year-old were molested by men. One asked for name and address, the other for sex. Children and parents should therefore know where to turn off the audio channel. Conclusion: A single feature strengthens social contacts for some - and becomes a danger for others. For some players, neither one nor the other applies. The truth about Fortnite isn't black or white. It's somewhere in the gray in between.

7th misconception: Fortnite is as harmless as football

Some children spend every free minute on the soccer field. But do they react with a fit of anger when their parents call them to dinner? "The likelihood of something like this is much greater in computer games," says Dmitri Williams. The reason: Games like Fortnite are very precisely tailored to the human psyche. «At the beginning you can see rapid learning success. And of course that is a huge motivation to get the next sense of achievement straight away. "

In addition, you play against 99 opponents at the same time in Fortnite. The odds of winning are more like a lottery than a football game. "Psychologically it works like a slot machine"says Williams. "And not all people are good at just quitting in situations like this."

In other words: it may be that you can get lost reading books, playing football or playing chess - but the risk of addiction to Fortnite is undoubtedly much higher.

The child is playing Fortnite - what can parents do?

  • Limit the playing time. The lure of Fortnite is enormous. Children can deal with it better if parents support them with fixed - and mutually agreed - rules. Parents should also help follow these rules. For example by setting an alarm clock. When the doorbell rings, it means: After this game, it's time to go.
  • What is the limit? The US psychologist Leonard Sax recommends: No more than 40 minutes on school days. No more than 60 minutes on weekend days. The game is only played when homework and household chores have been completed. These rules are relatively strict. You will make an arrangement with your child that everyone can live with.
  • There is only one recommendation for the smartphone version of Fortnite: a complete ban. If the game is always and everywhere available, the temptation will be too great for many children. In most cases, a single sentence is enough: "I don't want you to ever install Fortnite on your phone." If necessary, an occasional check of the cell phone can help: You can be shown without prior notice which apps are currently loaded on your smartphone.
  • If you play Fortnite in team mode, "Voice Chat" is automatically activated. So you can hear what the teammates are talking about. How do you protect your child from strangers? On the one hand by the rule: In team mode you only play with friends, not with strangers. Parents and children should also know how to deactivate the chat function: Go to the game settings, click on "Sound", switch to "Off". The third option: in a team game with strangers, the voices of the others must be heard over loudspeakers. And a parent must be in the room.
  • «Play the game with your child»is the most important advice from Dmitri Williams. "After all, they want to know what they do in their free time and what they are interested in."
  • Williams ’second tip:“ Let your child explain to you what is supposed to be so cool about the game. Your child will be delighted that you are interested. It will literally tell you everything. " This method has a second advantage: “You stop basing your educational measures solely on prejudices. Own experience, own knowledge - these are the better advisors. "

How can I tell if my child is addicted?

How many children addicted to computer games is difficult to say. Depending on the study, the numbers fluctuate between 1.4 and 8.4 percent. Are particularly affected Teenage boys. Researchers at the University of Amsterdam have developed seven criteria for determining an addiction.

  1. The child thinks about the game all day.
  2. The child plays longer and longer from week to week.
  3. The child plays to forget his worries.
  4. Others (e.g. the parents) tried in vain to reduce the child's play time.
  5. The child feels bad when they cannot play.
  6. The child is arguing with friends or family members over the game.
  7. The child neglects other things (homework, sports, hobbies) because of the game.

Rule of thumb

As soon as at least four of these criteria apply “frequently” or “very frequently” for the past six months, there is a suspicion of gambling addiction. Affected parents should get help. More on the topic and media consumption by children and young people: Pro Juventute:, Addiction Switzerland:

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