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What's not to love about playing a quasi, self-regenerating version of the Hunger Games from the comfort of home? Despite the warnings of playing "shooter" video games and potential harm to kids under the age of 13, many parents like me fall into a trap: be the hero or the zero in our kids' lives depending on where we stand on playing Fortnite.
No blood or gore, the cartoony shooter game Fortnite has exploded in popularity. It's not only about the battles and cool weapons. Younger players can't wait to see newly released (and costly) player skins and learn the latest dances. No doubt for younger children, this game is addictive. I've witnessed it firsthand and commiserated with other parents who have experienced the same.
Yet I confess. I was the one who put an iPad in my 2-year-old son's hands (educational apps only) and an iPhone to get through the grocery store with as little drama as possible. I bought the Wii U and played Disney Infinity with him and told my husband Christmas before last that an X-Box One from Santa was a great idea.
Last summer I was the one who reminded my husband that our son had all A's on his final report card and we should buy him a Nintendo Switch so he could play with his cousin during downtime from boogie boarding and sand castle building at the beach. That's where he was introduced to Fortnite and he's gradually become obsessed.
I recently figured out he was setting his alarm clock to 5 am so he could play Fortnite before we were awake. Lately it has been a chore to get him ready for golf, Taekwondo, and Code Ninja classes. Unfortunately we hit rock bottom last Thursday when my son struck a deal with me - if he could have some free time (code for Fortnite play time) he would do his homework after dinner. Another bad decision on my part as homework was a disaster and my 3rd grader who still makes all A's on report cards couldn't do basic math homework whining loudly that he was stupid.
I felt like I was doing a perp walk up to the game room to disconnect the X-Box. My punishment was swift and furious and I've been doing penance ever since coming up with creative ways to spend the free time without electronics. It's not my son's fault he can't self moderate his Fortnite obsession. It's mine for not being able to figure out Microsoft's diabolically difficult-to-understand parental time limit settings for the X-Box.
To be continued . . .