So Prince Harry has called for Fortnite to be banned in the UK, questioning the benefit it brings to households.
I have three boys and the two eldest have been playing Fortnite for the past three months. I can see a change in them, and I must agree with Harry.
In January of this year I finally gave in and downloaded the game. I had been wary for around a year and had refused to let them have it. I had attended a talk from the charity Freedom from Abuse, which warned of how easy it was for strangers to access your children on games like this to start grooming them.
But the boys wore me down. Most of the boys in my eldest’s Year Six class (aged 11) were playing it and most of the children in my middle son’s Year Four class (aged 4) were playing it, despite the recommended age limit of 12.
So I relented and spent some time watching them play, asked questions, and tried to understand how the game worked and what its security settings did.
It seemed okay. They play online with their friends joining battles together and chatting online.
The game itself is pretty harmless. You wander a world, which does look very impressive graphically, looking for chests that contain weapons. You use these weapons to eliminate others until you are the last man/woman standing.
Immediately I saw how addictive it could be. When my sons were eliminated, they would be frustrated and would want to start another game immediately. There is a clever, addictive part of the game.
As you play, you rise through the tiers and get things like new skins (outfits) and new dances (just look at how any 10-year-old dances and it probably comes from Fortnite). Moving through the tiers qualifies you for each new season and you receive a game pass every 60 days.
The children are rewarded for length of time playing. There is also a big sales element where children can buy v-bucks to own even more skins, dances and weapons.
The addiction element is scary. If we had a rare day at home, they would quite comfortably sit on the Xbox all day long playing. And the moment I asked them to come off, I was met with anger, disappointment and moans of boredom. Their mood then dampened for some time.
It was parents evening this week and we talked to the teachers about Fortnite. They are concerned and can see its impact on our children. It is a big area of concern in schools across the country, so we are taking a stand.
I really believe that this game has impacted the behaviour and emotional well-being of my boys, so it is gone. The Xbox cable has been hidden for a period of time.
It’s been three days without the game and, of course, they are fine. They are finding other things to do. Their moods are happier and lighter.
Will I relent and let them play it again? Maybe – but with a strict time limit. One hour a day is plenty of time playing the game.
What do you think of Fortnite? Have you noticed a change in behaviour of your children?