On Saturday night, hubby and I were watching a movie and Malcolm was in the other room playing Fortnite on his Xbox. It was getting late and I knew it was time to tell him to finish up. As I walked into the room, I will admit I was dreading the whole interaction about wrapping up.
You see we had not agreed ahead of time what time he would finish up.
The conversation slipped thru my fingers. And what I do know is that when I spring on him that it is time to finish up, my request will mostly likely be met with a lot of resistance and anger.
The surprise of “Hey it is time to get off” really triggers him and he often gets emotional. Plus if he is in the middle of a Fortnite game where he is making progress- Forget about it! His brain goes haywire!
You see my son loves playing games on his Xbox and he especially loves playing Fortnite. Most boys do right now and he is no different. I can’t tell you the number of times gaming comes up, specifically Fortnite, in conversations with parents.
My son and I have had lots and lots of conversations about Fortnite. I have shared my concerns about the game such as how quickly he gets sucked in, how hard it is to walk away, and how it feels like the game consumes him. And he shares his opinion of the game, how much he loves it, how the game works and the every player’s quest to be the last person standing.
So as I get ready to tell him to wrap up, a quote from the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey comes to mind “seek first to understand, then be understood”. Remember it? This quote is so helpful in every aspect of our lives…especially parenting.
As Covey’s quote enters my mind, I realize I could seek to better understand the game. I have the time and I am in the right frame of mind. Plus I realize I could watch for a bit (show an interest) and then ask him to finish up. This will significantly increase the odds of a pleasant ending to our Saturday night.
So I pulled up a chair and joined him during an epic battle of Fortnite. And wow did I come to “understand” a lot!
I learned a lot about my son, the other kids that play, and the skills they are developing while playing Fortnite.
In David Letterman style I will count down the 5 lessons I learned from Fortnite!
I know I am pretty surprised myself.
In at number 5 is Laser Focus.
While playing Fortnite, there is a lot going on. There are many moving parts and pieces, lots of action and lots of people playing. I learned our kids are developing a real sense of focus amongst the chaos. It is really impressive and a skill that will serve them when it is time to get things done. Being able to be laser focused while studying, taking a test, driving, playing sports, singing in front of a crowd, playing an instrument, or interviewing for a job are all examples of how this laser focus can really serve our kids.
Number 4 is Developing Executive Function (EF).
EF can best be described as the ability to look ahead or plan a few steps into the future. We are born with zero EF and it is estimated the skill isn’t fully developed until roughly age 25. Being able to think a couple steps ahead is a great skill to have and can be a big contributor to goal setting, planning, following a plan and achieving results. If you haven’t watched your kid play games like Fortnite, I highly recommend it ASAP.
The goal of Fortnite is to be the last person standing. Literally! By nature this requires each player to constantly be thinking a coupe steps ahead. It requires setting a goal, planning a strategy, deciding which weapon to use when, when to forge ahead and when to pull back. You have to ration the “big guns”, constantly check your status, monitor the number of players and pick up energy along the way. Big time EF development!
In at number 3 is Teamwork.
Fortnite is all about teamwork. To be the last person standing, you literally have to work with others. I watched my son team up with a few other guys to complete such tasks as call out pitfalls, point out opportunities to pick up weapons, and discuss how to work together to maximize their remaining ammunition. No person can make it all the way alone. I watch my son interact with his teammates at warp speed with lots of moving parts and pieces. His level of commitment to his team was impressive. True teamwork must happen if you have any chance of ever being the last person standing and I think we would all agree teamwork is a skill necessary in life and the sooner learned the better.
Making the list at number 2 is the desire to improve and a sense of accomplishment.
Let me remind you of the theory that it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to be great at something. I am often reminding my son that we are not born being great at things, rather effort and repetition are required, a sometimes hard concept for underdeveloped minds to comprehend.
It is quite a coincidence that on Saturday night Malcolm literally was the last man standing at Fortnite. I was assured by him as he jumped around the room that this doesn’t happen very often if ever.
Do I wish the accomplishment was over math problems, charity work or solving earth’s water problems? Sure!
But I recognize his brain lights up when setting goals and then accomplishing them even for Fortnite.
Setting goals AND accomplishing the goals is a skill worth developing. It doesn’t really matter the intent, it is the skill that is repeatable and will serve our kids thru high school, college/trade school and while adulting.
Watching him reach his goal on Saturday night was pure joy and I am so happy I was there to witness it.
And the Number 1 lesson I learned from Fortnite is that our kids need help regulating the fun by setting limits!
Did you know these are toys/devices were originally designed by adults for adults. Let that sink in for a minute.
Here is what I know- our kids need help regulating the fun! Think about it this way, you aren’t going to hand over the keys to a car when your child turns 16 with no guidance/rules/agreements right? You make sure they know how to drive. You make sure they know the rules of the road and you make sure they know your limits like no texting while driving, be home by X, if you get in an accident do Y, don’t go over speed limit etc..
We realize cars were designed by adults for adults to drive, so we do our best to teach our kids and set them up for successful driving. Once we feel like they have a good grasp on the rules, the dangers, the skills, we step back and let them enjoy driving and their new found freedom. And at the same time we continue to monitor them, their driving, and the car. We let them gain experience and continue to check in and set limits.
So why do we hand over these big, all consuming, electronic devices without following the same path?
Much like learning to drive, setting limits helps everyone know the rules. Kid by nature want to comply so letting them know exactly how much time they can spend each day on the device gives them the opportunity to comply. They may not like it but they know what to expect and they can meter out the fun.
You can set limits ahead of time, like no devices during meals and no devices after a certain time each evening.
You can agree that you will monitor the time for them and give them a warning when time is almost up and you will expect them to wrap up.
You can teach them about brain science and why taking breaks from time-to-time actually leads to enjoying the device more.
On Saturday night I was reminded that setting limits is really important when peaceful parenting and can be difficult to set limited around devices.
I know from having many, many, many conversations with my clients that some of us can’t even set limits for our own devices so it seems impossible to set limits for our kids.
We didn’t have these devices when we were their age so many of us feel like we are flying blind.
Some of us are scared of our kids big emotions around this topic and aren’t even sure where to begin.
But deep inside we know we need to address this topic and the sooner the better.
Would you like some help with creating a game plan for devices?
Want to join me and small group of parents to learn more about the brain on gaming?
Want to be a part of a conversation about how to best navigate setting limits around the phone/video games/electronics?
Want to learn tools to approach your child and create maximum cooperation around what can at times be an emotional topic for everyone?
Want to feel better about your parenting around this topic?
Want to feel like you have a plan that is in the best interested of you child, your family, and is in line with your family values?
I am putting together a program called “Game Plan the Gaming” for a small group of parents that want to dig into this topic and get some relief!
This will be a 4-week course that will meet once a week. We will get in, do the work, and get out so you can get back to your life with tools that set everyone up for success!
If you feel like you are struggling with the impact of ELECTRONICS in YOUR HOME and on YOUR FAMILY and want some help and support, then hit reply or email me directly at [email protected] and let me know you are IN!
I will put you on the VIP List and you will receive early access and details of the program so you can grab one of the seats before this program opens up to the public. Registration will be limited and seats will most likely fill up quickly.
I know how hot this topic is and much many parents struggle. You are not alone.