(i.e. conversations you want to have with your gamer)
Q: Hey Gamer, it’s time for dinner/sports/some other activity. Can you come downstairs now?
So much of the parent/gamer conflict occurs from a lack of understanding and/or failure to communicate expectations (on both sides). But, now you understand the game. You understand why your gamer is screaming for joy or out of frustration. You understand the different game modes. You understand how long a Fortnite “match” can take from start to finish. Armed with this new knowledge you can define very clear boundaries for your beloved gamer.
So, for example, if you want your gamer to be ready for dinner at 6:00, then perhaps beginning the conversation about when Fortnite should be turned off should begin either before gaming begins or within 30 minutes of dinner time (since that’s the maximum time a Fortnite game can last). You might give a reminder like, “If you die within 10 minutes of 6 pm, don’t cue up a new game. Instead, you can observe your friends playing, get on Twitch, or plan your next “Fortnite date” with your friends. Here’s a couple other scenarios:
→ If your gamer is playing “Solo,” jump in and play a couple of games or sit and watch for a few minutes, setting the expectation that dinner will soon be ready and you’ll go down together.
→ If your gamer is playing Squads, Duos or in the Playground, make sure he/she gives his friends a heads-up that he’ll need to log off around 6. Maybe even incentivize your gamer to end a few minutes early (“If you get off before 6 and come set the table, I’ll make sure that you’ll get a little extra time to play later”).
Positive reinforcement of good behavior/gaming well will reap huge benefits in the future. The reverse can be true, too (“You finished all your homework/worked so hard at practice, take some time to relax and Fortnite with your peeps!”)!
Q: Are you getting exercise?
Incorporate movement into gaming (pre- and/or post-) for those not in organized sports. It is recommended to take breaks from gaming every 15-20 minutes. Yoga, situps/pushups, jumping jacks and other calisthenics are a great way of getting blood flowing into stiff joints and limbs. Many games have natural pauses where these exercises can happen (level completion, spawning new life, map loading). This exercise is even better if it happens outside (so that skin can get some much needed Vitamin-D)! Stay tuned for our Fortnite Workout! Coming soon…
Q: Are you eating healthy?
Your gamer should be eating three to five meals a day, 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and adequate protein intake (meat or plant-based) based on the level of physical activity. Sodas? No, thank you. Snacking on chips and cookies while gaming? Try an apple or banana instead. Research shows a positive association between eating lots of fruits and vegetables and overall happiness! And professional video gamers are now working with personal trainers to maximize their diet and fitness because they realize that physical fitness gives them a COMPETITIVE advantage.
Q: Are you getting enough sleep?
9-12 hours of sleep is the recommended number of hours for children and adolescents according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. And that research is clear: gaming devices in the bedroom and screen time within one hour of going to bed are both recipes for really poor sleep and poor school performance.
Q: Are you happy?
Acknowledge anxiety about the school year and the pressure to perform. Does Fortnite provide a healthy outlet or has it instead become a form of self-medication? At Gamer Wellness, we recognize that the struggle can be real. Some gamers will use video gaming as an outlet for anger, anxiety, depression, or loneliness. We acknowledge that this can be beneficial…to a point. Recruiting the help of mental health professionals (doctors, therapists) could save your gamer’s life. Pediatricians, adolescent medicine specialists (like Dr. Blankson), and psychiatrists can be helpful allies. One great resource for finding therapists is the search engine on Psychology Today.
At home, you may want to try these simple positive psychology practices:
- Journaling for two minutes a day about one meaningful or happy moment
- Writing down three gratitudes– the what and the why– at the end of each day.
- Committing one conscious act of kindness daily (via email, text message, or in person)
- Meditating for two minutes, focusing on your breath going in and out. Some great teen mindfulness resources can be found here.
You might also be tempted to take the gaming away from your unhappy gamer, blaming the gaming for his unhappiness. I can say with relative certainty that in most cases, THE GAMING IS NOT THE PROBLEM. Look deeper for the underlying issue. Taking the gaming away may be depriving your gamer of one of his strongest social outlets! Instead, focus on making the gameplay social, cooperative, and uplifting. Steer your gamer towards games that highlight this social component but are less time-intensive (check out our Gaming World Map). Teach your gamer to turn potential weak ties into strong ties. Weak ties are social connections that are limited. “The only thing I do with ____ is play Fortnite.” A strong tie is one with multiple layers of connectedness: online gameplay, workout buddy, lunch friend, classroom partner, movie night peep. Research shows that social connectedness is one of the greatest predictors of long-term happiness and health. Teaching your gamer how to form strong ties will lead to a happier, longer life!