Fortnite and the rise of social anxiety.

So, I hate thinking that Magoo isn’t feeling OK.

He’s been told time and time again, that’s it’s ok, not to be ok. Something which I think he totally understands.

A month or so ago, he had a total crying breakdown one Friday night. After having a lengthy and positive chat with him, we realised he had just had the worst week at school, so far. I know there will be worse to come, but he’s only 8, so cut him some slack.

It turned out, as he has zero interest in football, or anything football related, the other boys in his class had been leaving him out of break time and lunchtime games and playing with each other. Until, maybe 6-12 months ago, they used to be a tight bunch of kids. But in this last period of the school year, they all seem to be doing their own things, but most, if not all are sheep.

I’ve always, always, taught Magoo to be a sheppard and not a sheep.

He doesn’t like football, full stop. So instead of all playing random games during their break periods, they have all taken to playing football, you know, as it’s a boys sport. They all also like to win at any cost.

Which in my eyes is total bollocks!

Winning at every cost, cost them Magoo. For the week, maybe even longer. As he has no interest and most of his friends do, he potters with some other kids and one of his supposed two best friends.

But I think that week in particular had taken its toll on him. Not only were they playing football at every spare moment, but talking about it, and bringing it into every situation that arose during that week.

So after a shitty week, an even shittier Friday day time, when he got home, he just let it all out and cried while sitting with the both of us.

He knows it’s ok to cry. Even though boys and men don’t cry! I’ve actually been told this by one of his friends, as crying is for girls and pussies…. pussies! At 8, they shouldn’t know what that word means for fucks sake!

Anyways. That’s all in the past. Magoo knows to be a leader, a sheppard, and not a follower, a sheep or a lemming. He’s his own person. He’s very happy and proud with himself that he is one.

Which in turn, as a fascist anarchist, I am exceptionally proud of. After all, he is a smaller version of myself.

Anyways, back to the point at hand.

Magoo likes video games. What 8 year old doesn’t?!

He plays a wide variety, and some he plays with me. Even at nearly 41, I enjoy playing video games. It always was, and still is, my escape and my way to relax and de-stress.

I also am well aware these things are games, not to be taken seriously, and have never thought for one second that they ruin your childhood or cause violent tendencies, and so on.

I play first person shooters. I know that if I throw a grenade or shoot a bad guy from 500 yards away, it’s not going to make me want to fashion up a pipe bomb, or go Rambo on someone.

I know this as I have a fucking brain!

Anyways.

Magoo plays some games with me, and vice versa.

Fortnite….the worst and most pointless game I have ever played or been part of. I have no interest in it, as it’s not my type of game.

BUT Magoo does. So as a responsible parent, I learned very quickly, and I mean quickly, what it was all about, the ins and outs, and oddly became pretty good at it. That’s not the point.

Magoo likes it. But, he plays it via his Nintendo Switch. It’s a handheld console, think the original Gameboy, from back in the day, but so suped up, it like a mini with an Ferrari body kit on it (I don’t do cars either…but you get my point).

It’s good!

It’s also hand held, so he can play it where the wants, but in his case, it never leaves the house and he’s careful with it. All in all, with all the added extras, and gizmos and controllers, I think it was in the £500-600 region! Anyways….it also connects to the TV.

It’s fucking magic. Not like stuff I had when I was a kid….during the war!

But, he can also add friends, whether they are actual friends, or online friends, to play games with.

Now, oddly, I’m a responsible adult and parent. I myself have been online gaming for a long enough time to know the good and bad sides to it. Magoos online profile has every parental lock, tool and filter on it known to man.

He also only plays online (he plays normal games, not online, as well), either on the main TV, or in the presence of one of us, but mainly myself.

Recently his little, and I mean little circle of friends online, have taken to using the voice chat service that is available. It’s where you can add a head set, and microphone and talk to each other while playing.

Brilliant….but something I’ve never used, as shouting at someone miles away, via a game, has never really appealed to me. For Magoo, it is something which is not enabled.

If the system has it enabled, lots of other varying factors come into play, and you forfeit half of your parental controls.

So, I’d rather he be safer than chatting.

Anyways. They’ve started using this feature. Magoo has not. BUT…he can still hear everything as that’s the way the system works.

He can hear, but not talk.

So systematically a week or two ago, some of the kids decided to be evil, shout and swear, and use horrendous language, when Magoo tried to play with them.

He actually got ‘kicked’ out of a few games. Think not getting picked last for a team, but not getting picked at all and told to go away and play by yourself.

He wasn’t all that fussed, but it made by blood boil thinking people are supposed to be his friends, in the real world, but yet he can’t join it, in the fake world.

So, after sitting and watching it all unfold, the two of us, Magoo and myself did some investigating, what else are fathers and sons supposed to do!

We worked out which player name, was which kid in real life.

We then listened to what was being said by whom, everytime Magoo tried to play.

As an adult, I was shocked, but also disgusted at the behaviour, but more shocked and disgusted at the language that was being used. These kids are aged 7-11!

I was also shocked at 3 kids, chatting away and planning what they were going to do to another child who had just been playing with, but just left, the next day at school!

And I mean physical harm. They were plotting what they were going to do, and also what they were going to say. So physical and verbal harm!

As a pair of 40 year adults, parents to a child, who have both had varied and colourful lives, we were both shocked.

What was worse, Magoo was totally shocked as well.

He has calmed down playing Fortnite for the moment. He will only play it, if he is either sitting with me, or I play it with him.

He doesn’t like the killing aspect, he likes the building new worlds, islands, designing aspect. Which is fine.

We have taken the stance that, anyone who is being abusive is not welcome to play with him, and he himself has either blocked them or deleted them as friends, via online. Something I am pretty proud of.

He was making himself anxious, every time he played or went online, in case those kids were there, and I’m assuming he was getting worried or upset that they may turn on him and be vile and evil. So he blocked and deleted them. He said if they behave like that, then they aren’t his real friends.

He’s 8.

Let that sink in!

He’s 8 and he’s already being made to feel anxious about playing games!

Since this has all happened, he seems a bit more at ease, a more like his old self, playing and chatting to himself while he slays dragons, builds crazy world’s and races a random rocket car while being Sonic the hedgehog and turning upside down.

We, I, take an active standpoint on online gaming, not just with myself, but with Magoo. He’s not just Magoos mom’s responsibility, he’s mine as well.

I’ve had a massive learning curve in relation to his online gaming and privacy and parenting. Something I think others need to do, and take more of an active role in. As they are kids….and you only get one chance at getting it right from the start, something I think we are doing with this!