In the article “Fortnite and Kids With ADHD or Social Skills Issues: 7 Things I Tell Parents,” Mark Griffin provides 7 pieces of advice to parents whose child plays Fortnite everyday for long hours on end. An estimated 50 million people (teenagers 13 years and up) play Fortnite. 50 million teenagers spend their evenings playing a video game. 50 million teenagers are glued to their digital devices. 50 million teenagers are focusing their time on video games rather than doing their homework or trying to get at least six hours of sleep. In specific, children with ADHD may have a harder time focusing on other important activities surrounding them because they are hyper focused on the game at hand.
Fortnite can be played on any device whether it is on one’s phone, tv, or computer. Because our mobile devices are portable, teenagers can play the game at school rather than learning. However, most parents are unaware of the impact that fortnite has on kids with learning and attention issues or even those that do not have ADHD. Griffin noted that some teenagers can handle the action of the violent video game but others with ADHD may have a hard time with social interaction. However, interaction between players is required if the player decides to play on a team, providing an opportunity for your child to practice their social skills without having to speak to a person face to face. This may be good for some children because they can practice teamwork while collaborating with others without having the stress or anxiety of being judged for what they say. If teenagers have ADHD or social skills issues, Fortnite may help to develop their social skills in a sense that it is a good conversation starter that most kids have in common and can talk about.
In addition, the same skills needed to survive (escape potential danger, think quickly on your feet, and be alert of one’s surroundings) in the game can be transferred to real life when they are not playing and turn out to be helpful skills to have. In comparison, “these are the same skills that can trip up many kids with ADHD in their daily lives” (Griffin). In this case, it is good to keep a close eye on your child’s screen time if your child has ADHD or social skills issues and is playing excessively or negative behaviors have increased.
In general, Griffin advises that “if you allow video game screen time (with Fortnite or any other game), it’s important to have clear rules and set limits about when and where.” If your child is going to spend time on their digital device for hours, be sure your child takes breaks for their eye and brain development. It is okay to have social interaction, although helping your child understand their limits of how much they can handle without increasing negative behaviors is also important. It is okay to say no and follow through if your child asks to play because you are keeping their best interest in mind.
If your child does not understand your rules and limits then increase the communication and conversations help them understand how screen time can affect their brain and behaviors. Make a plan together of when they can play the game and associated boundaries with gaming. This will increase the communication and help you and your child to be on the same page, as well as allowing your child to get a good night's rest.
-Written by Lily Schmitt and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD
Griffin, Mark. “Fortnite and Kids With ADHD or Social Skills Issues: 7 Things I Tell Parents.” Understood for Learning and Attention Issues. Expert Corner. Web. 17 July 2018. https://www.understood.org/en/community-events/blogs/expert-corner/2018/07/17/7-things-i-tell-parents-of-kids-with-adhd-or-social-skills-issues-about-fortnite