Some Thoughts on Fortnite

Yes, this is going to be a blog about the dangers of the internet.  Before you stop reading please understand this: I grew up playing video games (Atari 2600, NES, Sega Genesis, Nintendo 64, Gamecube, Wii.)  I grew up watching TV, quite a bit of it actually.  My family growing up was one of the first I knew to own a computer.  I grew up on the verge of the information age.  I don’t hate technology.  That said, I think we are in very dangerous waters and we need to be more vigilant than ever about how are kids are connecting online and who they are connecting to.

I’ve been dealing with a series of incidents in which kids have been unkind to each other.  They are taunting each other, calling each other rude names, and not understanding why anyone’s feelings are hurt.  Tracing back these incidents the boys often have one thing in common; they have seen and heard these same behaviours on Fortnite.

I’m not blaming Fortnite or its creators for the problem.  Like any other online activity, Fortnite is not bad in and of itself, it just needs to be monitored appropriately.  Unfortunately, most Fortnite games have a lot going on in the chat.  The chat can be via text or speech.  Kids can be connected to people they do or don’t know and listen to strangers say the worst things.  There is a lot of trash talking and “trolling” going on all the time.  This often includes sexualized and vulgar commentary.  Kids are hearing it, often engaging in it, and it is changing how they relate and communicate in the real world.  After hearing and saying terrible things online, they come to school and say the same things and don’t get why it’s not funny anymore.

Another Fortnite related problem is live streaming of professional gamers.  Boys will watch players stream their game live online while providing their commentary.  Since the majority of the game is boring to watch, these gamers tell stories and jokes to fill the time.  The profanity and sexualized commentary during these live streams would often make a sailor blush.  To a parent watching their kid on the computer, not hearing the commentary because their child is wearing earphones, it just looks like them watching a game.  Listening to the commentary would give another side to the story.

If your kids play Fortnite I would recommend having them do it in the living room with the volume up.  Talk to them about their games and their friends online.  Better yet, take turns playing with them.  If they don’t like these rules they could always do something they may have forgotten about… like playing outside.

Thanks for reading!