– By Emma Elsworthy
Addictive computer game Fortnite has become one of the biggest tools in a parent’s arsenal, a study has found.
Instead of grounding, taking sweets away and removing the television, almost two thirds of mums now threaten a complete ban on the game if their children misbehave.
With some 40million players worldwide, British children as young as eight are playing the game for more than 13 hours every week.
But a study of 858 parents of Fortnite-loving kids shows 54 per cent are concerned about the negative effects of the game.
In particular, the average family polled endures 11 arguments a month because kids want to spend longer playing the irresistible survival shoot-outs.
Siobhan Freegard, founder of ChannelMum.com, which commissioned the research, said: “Our advice to parents is not to panic about Fortnite.
“Played sensibly it’s fun, sociable and can even help some children’s co-ordination skills.
“But like any habit, if it takes over all other activities, then it needs to be managed sensibly with limits imposed.
“Agree with your child what is acceptable use and ensure they stick to it. It may cause a Battle Royale in your home but it will be better for them long-term to have boundaries.
“However even if you fear your child is a Fortnite addict, just wait a few months and they’ll forget all about it when the next craze comes in.
“A few years ago it was Minecraft, and next year it will be something else.
“Playgrounds are fickle places and even the most popular games don’t stay top of the leader board forever.”
The study found 63 per cent of parents find themselves arguing constantly about the attitude they receive when asking the child to come off the computer.
Other common rows are about how much time is spent playing (54 per cent), the amount of money spent on in-game purchases (39 per cent) and the general bad attitude (53 per cent).
A fifth of kids have landed in hot water after being found playing the game when they shouldn’t and 28 per cent have been told off for ignoring what they’ve been told to do.
Seven per cent of parents have found themselves faced with a huge bill after their children racked up in-game purchases.
Four in 10 parents are even convinced their child’s performance at school has been impaired due to the game and a fifth are concerned their kids think the game is more important than real life.
However, six in 10 mums and dads do agree the game IS suitable for children under 16 – due to its relatively mild violence, catchy dances such as the ‘floss’ and silly, fun sense of humour.
Just under half of parents like the fact the game is sociable, while 43 per cent say it’s nice to see their children so animated and excited about something.
Of the 46 per cent of parents who think the game has had a positive influence, 52 per cent like the fact their kids have made new friends online and 31 per cent think they’ve become more confident since playing.
Interestingly, 61 per cent of mums and dads are convinced their little one’s hand-eye co-ordination has improved since playing Fortnite and 37 per cent think the game is important to keep children familiar with new technology.
Parents also like seeing their kids copy the funny dance moves – with the ‘flapper’, ‘electro shuffle’ and ‘best mates’ making their way into the nation’s playgrounds.