Preface: I wrote this yesterday but WordPress gave me a new editor to try and evidently when I thought I had “published” it, I had not really. I only tell you this because I’m trying to get back to writing every day and I wanted you to know that I did actually write yesterday, I promise!
I hate video games. Even as a kid, I didn’t really like them but as an adult I abhor them. But, I’ll be honest, I don’t mind the Fortnite phase now that we’ve figured out how to manage it a bit.
Before I met Donnie, I was anti-video games. BUT! Video games were a large part of Donnie’s childhood and a part of parenting he really looked forward to…playing video games with his kids. Also? His income now depends on success in the industry so we had to come to a compromise.
I don’t want Wes playing any games that feel real. Like now war games or violent games that have zero elements of fantasy in them. Now, you may think on first glance that Fortnite looks real but you don’t really die, you just start over. And you have weird weapons like spears with sharks on them. And jet packs. And you can dress like manic pixie girls or tough women in camoflauge. There potions for protection and med packs in magic chests. SO, yeah…it fits the fantasy requirement.
Now. One of the most important aspects of ALL video game playing in our house is it happens in the main area of the house. I want to be very aware of how much time my kids are playing games and I want to hear/see the games they’re playing. This is also a rule about YouTube. I want to know what rabbit holes he’s falling down and how long he’s falling down them.
Some of the cool stuff that’s come around from Wes playing is him meeting people online. Now, you may think, “OH NO, KIM. He can’t talk to strangers!” But we are teaching him how to talk to strangers because they’re going to in this generation, there’s no avoiding it. We’ve just taught him how NOT to give personal information and since he’s out in the common area, we hear what he’s saying to people. Like one time he casually referenced the parent company of Donnie’s company and we explained why even that was too personal.
We also one time heard him say, “No, dude. I’m not giving you my credit card information.” So we told him to block that guy and we reported him. I can’t recommend letting your kids play in a public area enough. I know it’s annoying and maybe YOU want to use the computer/TV, but there are so many things we might not know about if he were holed up in a game room or in his bedroom.
But anyway! We’ve also heard him say stuff like, “Are you a girl? I don’t want to keep calling you Dude if you’re a girl. Sorry.” Which is kinda cute. He also asks for help pronouncing names if it’s not an English name he recognizes. He’ll ask what country people are from or what language they’re speaking. Once he asked us if we knew how to say, “Let’s go!” in Spanish. (Thank you, Dora!)
We also limit him to 30 minutes at a time. When he first started getting into Fortnite, we noticed some crazy shitty attitudes just appearing out of nowhere. When we sat back and really looked, we noticed he could zone out for HOURS if we let him. So we FORCE him to do something else ever 30 minutes. He sets the oven timer and when it goes off he’s allowed to finish his game and then he has to take a break for AT LEAST another 30 minutes. Sometimes we tell him longer. Or we tell him shorter if he does something good for himself like exercise or read.
I also recommend watching John Green play Fortnite as a Pacifist with your kids. It’s something you will enjoy and your kid will crack up about it.
I mean, there are some things I’d have to put my foot down about and luckily, Fortnite hasn’t been one of them. He’s plays with my childhood friend’s kids. He plays with kids he knows in town. He plays with people he’s met. Once he got killed by someone with like 400,000 Twitch followers and he was SO EXCITED and it was HILARIOUS.
Anyway. That’s how we manage it in our house. He loses Fortnite privileges a lot, it’s our main incentive for…well…anything. But for the most part, we feel like enjoys it enough to get better at it and meet people but he also sometimes won’t choose to play it even if he is allowed to, so we feel like he’s got a healthy relationship with it.
But we reserve the right to change ALL of this in the future. That’s another thing we’ve learned: ALWAYS KEEP THEM GUESSING.