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Screen Sanity: Fortnite (and other video games)

Navigating my children through this new world of technology is by far, hands down, the most challenging part of parenting for me. I feel very strongly that screens are one of the things that most keeps us from living intentional lives. It is very easy to get stuck in ruts and exist in status quo when our children are constantly in front of a screen. I know I need to embrace technology because it is so useful, but I tend to envy the parents of the 80s. I struggle with finding the balance. How much is too much?

I could seriously write a whole book about this subject, so I decided to break it down into specific topics. Many more posts will come on how we balance screens in our home (i.e. screen rules in the car, when friends are over, at dinner, during school, etc.).

I'm mostly looking forward to hearing from you all about what works for you so make sure you comment. Also, make sure you subscribe so we can try to figure this out together!

Did you know that video game addiction is now considered a mental illness? I see it all around me as an educator and a mom. Kids' brains are responding to video games almost like the brain responds to drugs.

Fortnite is sweeping the world by storm! I don't think I have ever seen a video game that pulls kids in quite like Fortnite. Disclaimer: Every parent is charged to make decisions based on our convictions, not based on what everyone else is doing. I feel I should mention that there are many popular video games out there that my kids are not allowed to play. I had to decide if I was comfortable with Fortnite. Why is Fortnite ok with me? It is largely based on strategy and has a capture-the-flag feel to me. But you, as the parent, have every right to ban whatever you feel is necessary based on your convictions. Stick to your convictions. That is your job.

A big part of resisting status quo is staying ahead of things and putting intentional practices and boundaries in place instead of letting things fall as they come. Our children are easily becoming addicted to this challenging and enticing video game, so we, as their parents, have to set up boundaries for their own well being. They don't know how to do it on their own.

So, here are our family's Fortnite (and other video games) rules for the summer. (We have completely different rules during the school year. Another post on that another time.)

1. Only one day a week (Saturdays for us), they are allowed to wake up and start their day playing video games. The other days that we allow them to play, they cannot start off their day playing. This is to keep their brains from becoming conditioned to think of Fortnite and other games right when they wake up each day.

2. They can play video games on Sunday afternoons. We call this "quiet time" where they can let go and enjoy the game. They know that this is acceptable because this is a time that our whole family chooses to relax and let go.

3. Video games are completely off limits at least three days a week.

4. The other two days, I use my discretion. They are either allowed to play, but given strict limits, like 1-2 games allowed total, or they are not allowed to play it at all. This depends on how each week is going.

5. We don't play video games at night. Night time is family time, and we want to put a high emphasis on our desire to be together.

6. Fortnite is not allowed on their mobile devices. When we are not home, that is a needed break from the game.

7. Spending time on positive habits, such as being active, reading (the bible and/or a book), and doing something productive (like chores) is a priority above Fortnite.

These rules are put into place to keep our children from becoming addicted to the video game. Children are literally having withdrawals from excessive video game usage. Children's brains are literally changing due to too much video game playing. Children are struggling with how to function or even carry on a conversation when they spend too much time on video games. And in a time during their life when their bodies are young and meant to be active, children's physical health is being negatively affected by excessive use of video games.

It is our responsibility as parents to protect our children. We all take that charge very seriously. Well, one of the most dangerous culprits for our children right now is in our own homes. Please be careful, put your own rules into place that work in your home, and reclaim no status quo living for your family. The years are short. Live your best life with your children. Now.