It’s the game that has struck dread in the hearts of many parents around Australia – Fortnite, the obsession that has consumed the attentions of children everywhere, sometimes to a disturbing degree.
It has even sparked dire warnings on 60 Minutes, with parents now fearful that obsessive gaming could be socially disadvantaging their children, or even threatening to rewire their brains.
So, what’s the truth about the violent and addictive game that children cannot stop talking about?
Marcus Carter, lecturer in digital cultures at the University of Sydney, and Jocelyn Brewer, of Digital Nutrition, both say that parents should make an effort to understand what their children are doing, and why.
‘We must be proactive about understanding what we allow young people to digitally feast upon,’ says Brewer.
Adds Carter: ‘All of the things we’re learning about children and digital tech … is that when parents play the games with the kids, that’s better for everyone overall.’
On the positive side, Fortnite offers parents the option to switch off the voice chat function to protect them from strangers, and unlike some other games, there are no problems with credit cards.
The game also encourages strategic thinking, planning and creativity.
But problems can be managed by setting time limits – something parents should not be shy about strictly imposing, especially if things have tipped from faddish interest into obsessive territory.