Fortnite, The Game Captivating our Youth

It’s the game taking the world by storm, children, teenagers and even adults. Fortnite Battle Royal – is a free multiplayer-shooting game, where the last one standing wins. The game can be played on nearly all devices and players enjoy the ability of being able to speak to one another while they play. But in all its fun and excitement – there’s a dark side no one seems to be talking about. Fortnite is addictive and we are now seeing an epidemic of children consumed with unhealthy gaming habits. The World Health Organisation has listed “Gaming Disorder” as a mental illness in its latest International Classification of Diseases. They’ve defined “Gaming Disorder” is “characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming … to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities,… You’ve probably already seen videos on social media of kids imitating the famous dances such as the floss and the L. It’s no secret that these games are taking over their lives in a very rapid way. What’s even more problematic is children are now even tempted to spend what little money they have on the game in exchange for virtual V-Bucks. Some kids are reportedly spending hundreds of real dollars for mere character skins and virtual outfits for their players. What’s striking is that “skins” don’t enhance gameplay; their purpose is purely aesthetic i.e to make the player’s avatar look good!   So instead of kids boasting about their new kicks at school, this generation is dealing with virtual vanity, and the items they’re showing off about are not even utilised in real life! Luke Vu, a registered psychologist, who specialises in treating addictions, says,
“Fortnite has some interesting elements .. the players tend to experience a lot of nemesis.. when you are shooting the other player, you see a health bar, you know, to see how close you are to victory, that sort of instant feedback is very rewarding and encourages continued play..”  
Vu says that having random rewards, like loot boxes, in video games, is also what keeps players coming for more
“I’m not sayin it’s gambling but it taps into something that we do know as, having variable rewards…”  
Miss Jebara, a primary school teacher says,
“ Whether in the classroom or the playground, I can see children doing the dance moves… I even hear the children’s conversations, and it’s like these kids have met the night before, virtually, through the game and they’re discussing what happened… It’s definitely all they want to talk about!”
According to Richard Freed, a Child and adolescent psychologist, and the author of “Wired Child: Reclaiming Childhood in a Digital Age”,
Parents have no idea that lurking behind their kids’ screens and phones are a multitude of psychologists, neuroscientists, and social science experts who use their knowledge of psychological vulnerabilities to devise products that capture kids’ attention for the sake of industry profit.
Another terrifying side of games like Fortnite, or any other shooting game, is that its goal is to kill people, “Hunger Games’ style”, and be the last one standing. Despite Fortnite’s quirky animation and lack of bloody scenes, children as young as 6 are pointing guns at other players and killing them. While there’s no official study that connects video games to violence, being exposed to this kind of imagery at such a young age cannot be healthy. Hence, most parents are complaining that their children become aggressive when they are denied access to these video games. So are we supposed to ban our children from playing video games altogether? Vu says it’s up to the parents to decide. Vu noted that if the child has done all their “chores.. , all the important things, studies, work… there’s not that much time left in the day…”. So if you choose to allow video games in your household, Vu claims that balance is key, and parents must always look out for any red flags. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,
“Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock. …. A man is a shepherd in charge of the inhabitants of his household and he is responsible for his flock; a woman is a shepherdess in charge of her husband’s house and children and she is responsible for them…” (Sahih)
Nobody can deny the struggle that comes with raising children in an age that is constantly changing. Parents, however, must be vigilant and continuously aware of their children’s habits. As tempting as it may seem to grab that cuppa while the kids are distracted on their devices, leaving them “distracted” for long can be detrimental to their future.

“O you who have believed, protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones, over which are [appointed] angels, harsh and severe; they do not disobey Allah in what He commands them but do what they are commanded.”

(Quran 66:6)