How to help your child ‘resist’ the Fortnite charme

With big breaking stories every day giving worrying new insight into the dangers of social media and screen-time to our children, and as a mum to a 12 year old boy ‘addicted’ to Fortnite, I am looking at ways to keep my son off the highly addictive video game which has been compared to heroine. I have been reading reports about the devastating effects of gaming platforms and observed my son being totally immerse in the game. What makes it so fascinating is its irresistible nature that rewards children with little treats and encourages the involvement of friends’ groups. This social element to gaming is constantly alluring new ‘customers’ and makes it even more popular. 

If you think I am exaggerating, take a look at this story (one of hundreds being released every day): 

Parents losing battle with Fortnite as children forced into rehab for video game addiction 

On my hunt for experts who could give me an answer and a solution, I found Dr Imran Rashid and Soren Kenner who have done over 10 years of research into how smartphones can lead to “Digital Fragmentation Syndrome”, resulting in increased stress, reduced mental-agility, disturbed sleep and even neural rewiring.  They have just published an interesting new book OFFLINE: Free your mind from smartphone and social media stress (available now for £12.99) so I took the opportunity to ask them how positive reinforcement can be applied to get the children a good balance of screen time and outdoor. I also asked them how parents can try and make other activities more appealing than Fortnite, which seems a highly addictive platform. 

This is what they said:

“Positive reinforcement works much better than the opposite. If you want your kid to spend less time on Fortnite it helps if you can find something more sensible to replace it with –– which could be anything from playing the piano to doing parkour in the park. Why not have a chat with your child about what interests them? Usually, it’s a combination of things and not just the activity itself. For instance, skateboarding or rollerskating is not just fun in its own right but also because it is something you can have fun doing with other kids. It is a real problem that the instant gratification offered by social media or games like Fortnite makes it harder for things in the real world that require real skills to compete.

But the truth of the matter is that you will never become a world class piano player or juggler or footballer or programmer or anything else that requires serious accomplishment without being able to defer gratification and put in a serious amount of hours practising your skill. The good news about positive reinforcement, however, is that once you have gotten your kid to try something new and real and tactile and fun it usually doesn’t take all that long for them to become enthusiastic about it.”

The book OFFLINE: Free your mind from smartphone and social media stress delivers a unique medical and tech perspective combined. The authors discuss the warning signs to recognise when an adult and a child alike is becoming a ‘digital junkie’ and how to beat the potentially life-threatening side-effects by learning healthy digital habits – as well as exposing the ‘mind hacks’ tech companies like Facebook, Google and Snapchat use to turn us into digital addicts.

Imran Rashid and Soren Kenner have sparked an international debate by revealing the “mind hacks” Facebook, Apple, Google, and Instagram use to get us all hooked on their products. In OFFLINE, they deliver an eye-opening research-based journey into the world of tech giants, smartphones, social engineering, and subconscious manipulation. This provocative work shows you how digital devices change individuals and communities for better and worse. The book is very technical but easy to read and I have learned a lot about how addictive the apps are designed to tamper with our brain and our ability to focus, what creates echo-chamber effects and cognitive bias, why FOMO (fear of missing out) impacts self-esteem, how Social Media grouping mechanisms change our perception of reality, why depleting our online self-control leads to poor decisions in our professional and personal life, how to resist “digital pollution” as an individual and as a family.

Offline shows readers – whether individuals, families, companies, public health organisations or simply anyone interested in the topic on a larger scale – exactly what kind of social-engineering mechanisms are being used to compel your attention – and what we can do (especially as parents) to avoid falling prey to digital pollution.

Offline is a must-read for anyone that uses smartphones or tablets and spends time browsing social networks, playing online games or even just browsing sites with news and entertainment. 

What I am also worried about as a mum of a pre-teen, is the development of a habit to use video games as THE form of entertainment. My son is very active and loves the outdoor, but the instant gratification of these apps and gaming is as alluring as a heroine intake once a habit is formed. The repercussions are terrible because once the children leave the nest and are out of our parental control, they won’t be able to control what they are doing and will forget about studying, eating and all the basic needs to play games. It’s not even that I am a worrier but I have read about a young man who had to be taken to rehab to cure his addition to video games.  

Facts on the dangers of the ‘online’ world 

  • new report has revealed children are suffering from a rise in online bullying.
  • New statistics revealed screen time slows the development of language and social skills in toddlers.
  • The UK Health Secretary recently  warned that social media companies could be banned if they fail to remove harmful images which have been linked to teenage suicide. 


Mums and dads, let us all unplug from the matrix! 


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