Help! A video game has taken my house hostage! My son’s a young teen who’s become a huge fan of what is one of the most popular online games.
Besides playing it with his friends, it’s possible for him to also play with and talk online or directly with strangers, up to 100 of them!
It bothers me that my younger children are also mesmerized by it, though too young to play.
It’s become common in my house to hear any or all of them shouting “Kill him!” at the screen.
When I say how inappropriate that is to how my husband and I have raised them – i.e. that “killing” is not a word or act we think lightly about – they point to the dance moves that are also in the game and say, “It’s just fun.”
Do I isolate my son from his friends and refuse to let him play the game (or have play dates where I can’t control this)?
Or, do I give in as if simulated killing is a fine entertaining goal, and a healthy focus for a still-developing young mind?
Defeated by Video
You’re probably talking about Fortnite: Battle Royale, which became wildly popular overnight last fall, when it was released as a free digital download that could be played on several consoles including PC, Xbox, and PlayStation.
Clever marketing. And the added dance moves to the game have an appeal of their own. So, if it’s “just” fun, what’s the problem?
No worries, I get it. Parents already have too much real-world violence to worry about. It happens in schools, on the streets, to innocent people, and to whole groups whom others deem are okay to “kill.”
That’s why you want your home to be a safe haven: Where you can discuss your values with your kids, and pick up signals when they’re worried about or afraid of something… or being influenced by others in ways that worry you.
My perspective is your parent-child relationship: It’s what you have to preserve and work from.
If your son’s doing well at school, keeping up with his homework and projects, engaged in other activities such as sports, music, art, science, etc., he’s less likely to become obsessed with this or any other video game.
But, you have to be alert to potential “overkill.” The same goes for cell-phone addiction, and hanging out excessively online for any reason.
Because it’s not healthy for mind and body, nor for communication and social skills needed to navigate from immaturity to young adults taking responsibility for their lives.
Instead of forbidding this video game or any other, talk/learn about it with your son. Be aware of how long he’s playing it elsewhere and at your home.
And play with him, at least enough to detect any marked changes in how he’s handling it.
Use parental controls or a stopwatch to limit game time fairly (games can last up to 20 minutes).
If playing with strangers, have sound coming from the TV as well as his headset, so you can hear what’s being said to him.
There’ve always been compelling attractions aimed at teens, counting on their need for peer acceptance and feeling “cool.”
Meanwhile, the sales options for stuff to enhance the game raises pressure on players and parents.
There’s nothing cooler than having the latest greatest whatever. So, set your boundaries early on costs for the initially-free game.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman whose married lover justified his cheating with, "I'm not happy in my marriage" (April 25):
Reader – “This cheap line needs to stop being enough for affair partners to facilitate the destruction an affair has on a faithful spouse and their innocent children.
“Others such lines: - "We're just living as brother and sister until the (unfiled) divorce is final."
“Or, "We have an understanding/open relationship" (their spouse doesn’t know this).
“Meanwhile, the cheater is telling a contrasting whopper to the faithful spouse, having unprotected sex, and making appearances together as a couple and family: "That person? It's this crazy from work who's a little obsessed with me. S/he's probably jealous of what we have."
“The cheater playbook is no secret, but every Other Woman/Other Man is fooled, believing themselves as special, the rescuer.
“Actions speak louder than words. “Tired of Waiting” needs to learn how non-special their situation is.”
Ellie – Blunt, but often true.
Tip of the day:
Video games aren’t parents’ enemy. It’s not keeping aware of how they’re being handled by your child, and not setting time controls and interaction boundaries.