Games are here to stay. Children and teens will find a way to play, whether it’s Fortnite or the next craze that comes along.
As a parent, your job is to keep play in check. Gaming giants like Epic Games will develop ever more sophisticated psychological ploys to keep players logged in. What you want is to prevent your child’s play from becoming obsessive and excessive.
Look on the bright side
Look, for a moment, at the positive aspects of online gaming. Believe it or not, children do learn some valuable skills that may stand them in good stead in the future. Gaming can also be good for your child’s self-esteem, provided it is not the only source of validation.
Placing a blanket ban on playing Fortnite can have negative social ramifications if your child’s friends are all playing.
So, as a parent, it may be best to come to the battle armed with sound tactics.
12-Point battle plan for gaming
- Adopt an informed, mature approach to your child’s gaming. Educate yourself about the basics of the game and get involved. Ask questions about characters, goals and achievements.
- Set firm, yet realistic limits for online gaming time and be consistent.
- If you decide on strict limitations, it may be a good idea to disconnect the PS4 or Xbox completely during non-gaming hours.
- Set a timer to go off a few minutes before gaming time runs out. Then warn your child that this is about to happen.
- Make sure your child has the opportunity to communicate the boundaries you’ve set. Not being able to tell friends what these are may cause anxiety, since your child may think this is letting them down.
- Don’t interrupt your child’s play midway through a game. Instead, tell them not to start a new game when the current one comes to an end. Cutting your child off in the middle of a game signals rudeness to other players. It also means your child will have to start from scratch to get to the point at which the game was cut. This leads to frustration and possibly a tantrum. Allow a few extra minutes. Also take the opportunity to ask who they’re playing with and what the goal is. A Fortnite game lasts about 20 minutes.
- If your child wilfully goes over time, dock the number of minutes from the next day’s gaming time.
- Live chatting is part of the game for children older than 12, but supervise who they speak to. Educate your child about the usual online dangers such as giving out personal information.
- Limit the use of headsets so that you can monitor what is happening online. Check on them to hear whether bad language is used or if your child is being bullied.
- When your child wants to buy a new pack, do it with them. Together, assess what you got for your money and whether and how much value the items add. You can point out how the developers use marketing to sell these items and how things work in the real world.
- Make sure your child deletes your credit card details from the Fortnite account every time a purchase is made. Keeping the details online is an open invitation for your child to use your credit card.
- If you know who your child is playing with, it may be useful to get in touch with other parents to co-ordinate playing times.
By Linda Cilliers