Fortnite has established itself as one of the most important video games in the world, but also as one of the games with the greatest problems of addiction generates in children and adolescents. Last September, the first case of a young Spanish man who was hospitalized for two months to control his addiction to Fortnite was announced, after playing 20 hours a day.
According Qustodio 2021 data, minors around the world play Fortnite an average of 98 minutes a day. A time higher than the average that boys and girls spend with video games in Spain, 56 minutes, according to him Qustodio 2020 Annual Report on the digital habits of minors.
In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially included video game addiction within the “mental, behavioral or neurodevelopmental disorders”. The education that we give our sons and daughters about the use of Fortnite and other video games will condition the healthy relationship or addiction they have with them.
What is Fortnite?
Fortnite can be played in two ways. On the one hand, in the individual version, Save the World, the player has to survive a storm and join the rest of the humans in the world to kill the zombies; On the other hand, in the multiplayer version, Battle Royals, up to 100 people can enter in the same game and the objective is to kill the rest of the players to be only one. In this last mode, you can play alone, in pairs, or in teams.
Players have a shooter, that is, they use weapons to survive and kill the rest. In contrast to other violent video games, Fortnite does not have blood in its graphics.
It is not recommended for children under 12 years of age, since in addition to being exposed to images with violence, the multiplayer version has a chat in which any stranger can address them.
Why does Fortnite generate addiction?
The study Generation Z and Fortnite: What hooks the little ones of the University of Lleida points out some of the ‘hooks’ present in this video game that makes us not want to stop playing: the survival instinct to be constantly alert while gaming; the promise of reward, which implies that, although in a game it is not won, in the following it is possible that the reward will be obtained; character customization by being able to put our own traits, etc.
Likewise, after conducting a survey of 561 Spanish children, the results showed that what these children between 8 and 11 years old like most about the game is the thrill of not being caught or killed by their characteras well as the fact that each game is new and never repeat the same. This study concludes that the popularity of the game is due to a snowball process: if the rest of colleagues or friends around them play, the others do not want to feel left out.
In addition, as the psychiatrist Marian Rojas explained in this presentation, every time you play video games, pleasure is generated and the hormone of the dopamine constantly. We are addicted to the sensation that dopamine generates when playing Fortnite and other games.
Keys to educate children in a healthy relationship with video games
Boys and girls they don’t have self-control about what they play. The solution to avoid addictions does not go through prohibition, but through a healthy education towards screens and video games. We are the fathers and mothers who must set limits and rules from when they are little.
The Spanish Video Game Association (AEVI) provides parents with a series of recommendations so that their children make responsible use of video games:
- Play with the children: Only if we play with them, we can understand what images of violence they are exposed to.
- Follow the PEGI system: The age recommendations are marked with a green label in each video game.
- Promote more educational video games: They should be the ones who decide which video games to play, but we can also present other games among their options with which they can develop more educational skills.
- Use parental controls: Video games, like other screens such as mobiles, tablets or computers, cannot be the only option to occupy in the free time of children and adolescents. When they are young, we must set a time limit through parental controls, as well as do other outdoor activities.
- Meet virtual friends: In games with the multiplayer option they are exposed to many strangers. We must point out that the people in the chats are not their friends, and that if they are uncomfortable at any time, they can notify their parents.
- Set rules: Children cannot take video games whenever they want, but they must respect the limits of use that we put on them.
- Study time first, then they can play: Throughout the afternoon there is time for all kinds of activities, but before the video games, they must do their homework.
- Family game parties: Playing as a family allows us to improve the connection and bond with our children.
- Place consoles in common areas. In this way, we will prevent them from being tempted to take up video games when it is not the time.
- Teach them to differentiate between fact and fiction: For this, we can do more excursions with them or invite their friends to do other activities beyond playing video games.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.