Mean Mom of the Year, right here, folks. Why? Because this weekend, my husband and I made the decision to pull the plug, so to speak, on Fortnite.
If you haven’t run across this game yet, then you either don’t have tweens or teens living in your house, or you live off the grid in Arizona. I see posts on Facebook daily from parents who either love the game, or hate it. Google it, and you’ll see forum posts like “Why are kids so obsessed with Fortnite?” and “I saw a kid in Taco Bell playing Fortnite” and blog posts like “How I Lost My Children to Fortnite.”
What’s the allure? It’s a free strategy survival game that works on several platforms. It combines Minecraft-type collection of resources and building, with team-based survival shooting like Call of Duty. Kids (and adults) can play with up to 100 strangers, creating teams and crafting strategy.
It’s A Social Activity
One mom writes that gaming…”has now become a social activity amongst children (and adult men) breaking down barriers and connecting children from different communities. My kids are playing with their camp friends, school friends, and family friends from neighboring cities.., they are creating stronger bonds with some kids they rarely see and friends they see all the time.”
So what’s the big deal? Team work = good, right? (The same mom above is also complaining that her kids no longer remember to eat or bathe…)
My Son is An Expert on Assault Weapons
The big deal for me was when my 10 year old sat next to me on the couch and proceeded to explain the difference between a Gatling Gun and an AR-15. My 10 year old is suddenly an expert on…assault weapons.
Assault weapons. The very things used in some of the deadliest mass shootings in America. Las Vegas. Orlando. Parkland, and more. The United States has the honor of hosting nearly half of the deadliest mass shootings in the world over the last 30 years. I don’t need to tell you that no other country appears on the list as many times as we do. This country is obsessed — and I mean obsessed — with guns.
I feel strongly that the gun culture of America needs to change, and it needs to change now. There’s not much I can do single-handedly to make this happen — I will vote, I will use my voice when and where I can — but I can change what I teach my kids. Does playing violent video games lead to violence? The jury is still out. But, God help me if I allow my children to believe that shooting assault weapons is normal or fun. God help me if I allow them to become desensitized to violence and the idea of holding and firing a weapon.
37 Mass Shootings in America
563 children wounded or killed.
This year. That’s just three months. Gun violence in America isn’t just a problem. It’s a massacre.
Charles Figley, director of the Traumatology Institute and a professor of social work at Tulane University, has worked directly in school shooting interventions, and says growing accustomed to repeated violent acts is a form of adaptation, and most people do it without even realizing it.
“People adapt, they adjust, they try to look on the bright side,” he says. “There are two primary methods of dealing with a traumatic event: to respond, or to put it out of your mind. That’s what’s happening now. We’re still shocked, but we watch the people in the communities where this has happened, and we see their shock, their unpreparedness. We think, ‘There is nothing they could have done.’ The more frequently this happens, the more it reminds people there’s nothing they can do, so they put it out of their minds.”
God help me if I continue to sit back and do nothing.
Long ago, my husband and I decided that we weren’t going to allow (or play ourselves) any first-person shooter games. We stuck by that rule, despite the popularity of Halo and Call of Duty, and our kids have done fine. Pulling the plug on Fortnite, however, definitely had a sting, especially for our youngest who is (was) really into the game. But when we explained to him why…why we don’t want him playing a game that involves holding any kind of semi-automatic weapon, you know what? He understood. He’s seen the news, he knows what’s been happening.
And he doesn’t want any part of it, either.
Time’s up, people, in more ways than one. Times up for thinking gun violence isn’t your problem, or it won’t ever happen to you (or your kids). Times up for thinking you can’t make a difference. Times up for believing that change isn’t possible.
Thanks for listening. I’d love to hear your thoughts.