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Can Teens get Addicted to Fortnite?

Fortnight

Can teens get addicted to Fortnite? Fortnite is an online video game, released in 2017 by Epic Games, that has multiple playing modes. The most popular mode is the Fortnite Battle Royale, a game where up to 100 players battle to the death. After jumping out of a plane onto an island, a Fortnite player fights against 99 other players. The gruesome mission is to kill everyone until one winner remains.

Although the cartoon-style gameplay is not realistic, the game’s violent nature is apparent. Newport Academy recently published this article to discuss the ramifications of Fortnite and it’s effects on youth today.

Fortnite Success and Video Game Addiction 

More than 125 million players have participated in Fortnite Battle Royale. Since players can improve their weaponry by buying upgrades, Fortnite’s success has led to a dual economic and cultural phenomenon. Children addicted to Fortnite have created a huge revenue generator for Epic Games.

Indeed, Forbes recently reported that Fortnite brought in $126 million in February of 2018, $223 million in March, and $296 million in April. Given the tremendous cash flow, Epic Games is forming a $100 million prize fund. In the future, the fund will feed Fortnite competitions, giving financial prizes upwards of $25,000 to competition winners.

Fortnite Addiction a New Mental Health Disorder 

In response to the growing number of teenagers addicted to Fortnite and other video games, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently classified gaming disorder as a mental health condition. Released in June 2018, the WHO’s International Classification of Diseases revision included gaming disorder for the first time.

According to the classification, gaming disorder is defined as “a pattern of gaming behavior (‘digital-gaming’ or ‘video-gaming’) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”

Although the video gaming addiction classification is not exclusive to Fortnite, concern over Fortnite use may well have been a driving force behind the decision. The problem of teenagers addicted to Fortnite is at the forefront of the issue.

Therefore, parents need to learn more about why and how kids become obsessed with Fortnite. Moreover, as with all substance use disorders, Fortnite addiction is the result of underlying mental health challenges and the impact of the substance on the brain.

Hence, treatment for video gaming disorder needs to address the root causes, rather than simply addressing the symptoms of addicted teens. And these are both individual and societal.

Why Kids Get Addicted to Fortnite

Playing video games like Fortnite directly impacts a teen’s developing brain. According to the American Psychiatric Association, “Studies suggest that when these individuals are engrossed in Internet games, certain pathways in their brains are triggered in the same direct and intense way that a drug addict’s brain is affected by a substance. The gaming prompts a neurological response that influences feelings of pleasure and reward, and the result, in the extreme, is manifested as addictive behavior.”

Moreover, there is a connection between excessive video gaming and mental health conditions. Research shows a correlation between addiction to video games and the prevalence of depression and anxiety. Thus, an outer behavior, such as Fortnite addiction, is a sign of inner discontent. Such discontent may result from trauma, depression, anxiety, or other conditions.

As Louise Theodosiou of the Royal College of Psychiatrists explained in a televised interview, “There’s a growing body of evidence that shows that there’s very specific mental health needs that can be associated with gaming disorder—for example increased rates of depression, increased rates of social anxiety, and ADHD.”

Know the Symptoms of Fortnite Addiction 

By knowing the signs of video game addiction, adults can help prevent teens from becoming addicted to Fortnite.

Fortnite addiction symptoms include the following:

  1. A teenager plays Fortnite all the time, quickly going from one or two hours a day to spending every free moment playing.
  2. A teenager neglects school to play the game—pretending to be sick, ignoring homework, and abandoning extracurricular activities.
  3. A teen ignores family responsibilities and consistently chooses the game over family obligations.
  4. Kids let their appearance go. Personal hygiene becomes unimportant.
  5. Teens have health issues that arise from aberrant behaviors. Staying awake all night playing the game leads to mood swings.
  6. Teenagers may steal money to pay for upgrades. They’ll charge the costs on a credit card online without parents’ knowledge.

Fortnite Addiction and the Competitive Instincts of Parents 

Rather than recognizing and addressing video game dependancy, some parents encourage their teenagers to play. The recent announcement of the Fortnite World Cup, with $100 million in prize money, has provoked the competitive instincts of both teens and parents. As a result, awareness of Fortnite addiction problems goes down.

However, the problem of teenagers addicted to Fortnite is becoming recognized around the world. In the United Kingdom, a well-publicized story of a nine-year-old girl sent to rehab by her parents after choosing to wet herself in order to keep playing characterizes the challenge.

In addition, a recent study in England and Wales showed that Fortnite addiction and video game dependency contributed to 5 percent of all divorces in the United Kingdom, roughly about 4,000 divorces in 2018. Therefore, the impact of Fortnite addiction extends beyond teens.

Fortnite Use Fueled by Social Pressures 

For teenagers addicted to Fortnite, the game has become a way to build false self-esteem. And, since winning gives kids bragging rights, like hitting a home run in a baseball game, some parents want their kids to win. Indeed, “soccer moms” and “dugout parents” fervently rooting for their kids have morphed into video game parents.

For example, when discussing why he hired a Fortnite coach for his kids, a sales executive from Georgia explains to the Wall Street Journal, “Our skills were nowhere near where we needed them to be.” Thus, Fortnite dependence becomes not only acceptable, but also rewarded.

Help for Video Game Addiction Is Available 

Should parents worry about kids becoming addicted to Fortnite? The evidence shows that it’s a real possibility.

Consequently, taking away the video game is only the first step in recovery. In addition, parents need to make sure that teenagers addicted to playing video games also address the root causes of the addiction. Therefore, experts recommend teen mental health treatment that encompasses clinical and behavioral approaches.

If you, or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to Fortnite call Tamara Ancona, MA, LPC at (678) 297-0708 for an evaluation, and to discuss the best treatment options available.

Three Ways to Help You Fight Less Over Screen Time

Arguing over screens

Do you find yourself arguing with your teens over screen time? The folks over at Screenagers recently published these three tips to help reduce conflict around screen time and make life with teens a little more peaceful.

How to Optimize Parenting

I find this statistic staggering: thirty percent of adults and the same percentage of youth report that they argue daily about screen time at home. That is millions of kids, teens, and parents fighting every single day about screen issues and many millions more who fight often, though not daily.

I have some suggestions about how to put more joy into parenting given all the new stressors that have come with today’s tech revolution.

1.     Have technology do some of the parenting work for you.

Rather than constantly repeating, “Time to shut it off,” why not have your wifi at home set to automatically turn off at a specific time. Circle, for example, is a device that enables you to set individual filters and wifi access times on all your devices. With the Circle app, you can monitor data usage times for all the apps on your families’ phones. Some internet services like Xfinity also allow customers to set internet access times and limits for specific computers. Still, I always suggest that phones be put away at bedtime because kids are constantly finding workarounds to mobile data control apps.

2.     Adjust your thinking about “fighting.”

Think about the upsides of arguing. I have been reviewing the research around parent-teen conflict and have found some “silver linings” to consider:

  • Teens consistently report feeling much less stressed about arguing than their parents do. So how about as parents, we decide to be less bothered by it too—after all, fair is fair.
  • Research shows many benefits that teens get when they have productive arguments with parents. Healthy, productive arguing, from the teen perspective, is when the parents listen well to their claims and will change rules at times based on good sound input from the teens. 

3. Optimize good times with your kids.

There is a study that examined happiness and scarcity where college students were instructed to imagine they had only one month left in the place they lived. The control group did not get this instruction. After a month, the students that imagined time was coming to an end had branched out and done more interesting things and saw more people they cared about than the control group had. Why not try that with your family?

If you, or a loved one is struggling with screen addiction call Tamara Ancona, MA, LPC at (678) 297-0708 for an evaluation, and to discuss the best treatment options available.

Should Facebook Pay?!

FB

Everyone is on social media so it can’t be that damaging…right? Several organizations, however are concerned about long term mental health ramifications. The NHS even released the following article about the possible damages and what they feel needs to be done on the part of Facebook and Instagram to help compensate.

Facebook and Instagram should be forced to fund treatment of mental health problems because of the damage caused by social media, the head of the NHS has suggested.

Simon Stevens said the Government should consider introducing a “mental health levy” to fund NHS treatment of problems fueled by such websites. It follows concern that levels of anxiety, distress and depression among children and teenagers are reaching epidemic levels, with one in five teenage girls self-harming.

Mr. Stevens told a global summit that there was a compelling body of evidence demonstrating the damaging impact of social media on children, which appears to be fueling rising admissions to mental health services.

He urged ministers to consider placing a tax on social media giants – to fund treatment of such problems – in the same way that banks and betting firms pay a levy to “offset” the harm they can cause.

The father-of-two also paid tribute to The Daily Telegraph’s “duty of care” campaign calling for more stringent regulation of social media sites, in order to protect children from harm.

Mr. Stevens said: “Social media firms have a duty of care to their customers and need to step up to the plate to protect people’s mental health.

“The Telegraph’s campaign has helped to shine a light on the links between technology and health, an issue which mental health professionals increasingly report is having a real and detrimental impact on families.”

Speaking at the Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit in London, he said Government action was needed to tackle the factors contributing to mental ill health.

“Although it’s not fully developed, there’s widespread acceptance that overuse of these platforms can have a detrimental effect on children and young people,” he said.

“Mental health services, particularly for young people, are reporting an increased number of admissions linked to use of social media and some companies themselves are starting to recognise this.”

While individual companies have taken some steps to reduce use of services among young children – such as messaging service Whatsapp, which has raised the minimum age of use from 13 to 16 – far more robust action is required, the NHS chief executive said

“In other industries where there are adverse consequences from commercial activities, each service contributes a proportion of its turnover to an organisation or cause intended to mitigate adverse side-effects, or to offset harm,” he said.

“For example the banking levy on industry in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash, or funding to the Money Advice Service to help people in debt, paid by lenders. Energy companies fund a consumer helpline and gambling firms are asked to contribute to Gambleaware.”

Dame Sally Davies, England’s chief medical officer, is carrying out a review of the impact of technology on children which will consider whether the Government should issue recommended screen time limits.

It follows research in the Lancet Child and Adolescent Health journal which found that children who spend more than two hours a day on smartphones and video games have significantly worse brain development than those with more strict limits.

Later this year, health officials are expected to detail plans for an expansion of mental health services as part of a 10-year plan for the NHS.

Last night, Theresa May, the Prime Minister, suggested Britain had gone too far in putting pressure on children to succeed academically at the expense of their mental health.

Outlining plans to introduce mental heath checks in schools, and train thousands of workers to support well-being, she said: “For generations, we have measured our children’s physical health throughout their childhood. And we have done the same with their academic attainment. But we haven’t done this for their mental well-being.

“That not only sends the wrong message about the importance of mental health but it also denies us vital data that can help transform the support we provide for generations to come.”

If you, or a loved one is struggling with social media addiction call Tamara Ancona, MA, LPC at (678) 297-0708 for an evaluation, and to discuss the best treatment options available.

Effects of Short and Long-Term Marijuana Use

Marijuana use is a hot-button issue right now across the country. Some argue that the long term effects are minimal and are outweighed by the benefits. However, many medical professionals are not comfortable with it’s distribution to the general public without strict regulations, particularly where youth could potentially have access to it.

In “Adverse Health Effects of Marijuana Use” featured in the New England Journal of Medicine, they delve more deeply into the short and long term effects. The graphic below summarizes the findings.

Table 1 - Marijuana Effects

If you, or a loved one is struggling with marijuana addiction call Tamara Ancona, MA, LPC at (678) 297-0708 for an evaluation, and to discuss the best treatment options available.

An App to Help Manage Screen Time?!

Cell phone

Is there a product to help combine screen time management as well as help parents manage kids’ devices? It just so happens that there is!

TechDen has created the first ever product that combines an app that parents use to manage screen time with a physical home that charges and stores kids’ phones and tablets. The Den takes an “out of sight, out of mind” approach to teaching kids healthy habits around device use, promoting a positive balance with technology and creating more family time. We’re about creating healthy habits for device use by teaching and empowering kids to put their screens in the Den. We want screens out of kids hands and sight, and have them outside playing! The mere ability to see their device simply triggers the desire to use it. Out of sight = out of mind. Kids become used to this routine early on, and routine eventually becomes habit.

TechDen is a tool to help parents manage screen time in the home. It doesn’t remove a parent from parenting. But it also encourages parents to teach their children healthy habits around device use. It’s no different than teaching our kids to brush their teeth, eat healthy snacks or look both ways when they cross the street. Technology isn’t going away and that’s not a bad thing, but we need to teach our kids to find balance and become healthy digital citizens.

As children are exposed to technology earlier and earlier tools like TechDen enable parents to set healthy limit and allow children to just be kids.

If you, or a loved one is struggling with technology addiction call Tamara Ancona, MA, LPC at (678) 297-0708 for an evaluation, and to discuss the best treatment options available.