Fortnight and the next great Battle for Screentime

Fortnight and the next great Battle for Screentime


It seems the big parenting battle of the summer might be over FortNite.

This survival-action game developed by Epic Games and People Can Fly is a bit like what you’d get if you combined a sandbox-building game like Minecraft with an action shooter like Call of Duty. On one hand, it’s getting major points with kids and parents alike for building teamwork and thoughtful collaboration. On the other hand, it’s a combat-based game with tons of guns and violence. And the designers were brilliant in the way they weave the elements of addiction into the action- thanks guys!

So whats a Father to do? Here are a few ideas I’m working on:

  1. Set limits. Establish media-free zones and weekly screen-time amounts. Aim for a balance of activities throughout the week: reading, playing, exploring, and so on.
  2. Choose age-appropriate, high-quality media. Not everything has to be PBS, but take the time to find stuff that’s nourishing.
  3. Co-view and co-play when you can. You won’t be able to stop what you’re doing every time your kid plays Minecraft, but make an effort to understand — and even appreciate — what your kids are doing. Ask questions, get them to explain stuff, and listen with an open mind.
  4. Treat tech as a tool, not a treat. Kids who use tablets or smartphones only to play games see only the entertainment side of technology. Demonstrate the utility of devices, such as how you send email, use a map, and look up facts.
  5. Be a family of media critics. Media-literacy skills help kids think critically about what they watch, play, and interact with. Encourage young kids to think more deeply about their shows, books, and games. Ask “Who made this?”, “Who is it for?”, and “What is it telling you?”
  6. Be a media role model. Lead by example by putting your own devices away during family time.
I mentor two kids and several entrepreneurs. Similarities are coincidental.