If your child is addicted to Fortnite, Roblox, or Minecraft, weaning them off these games can seem like a daunting task. Unfortunately for parents, these names are often associated with bad behavior, poor school performance, and not enough physical activity.
In August 2018, Fortnite pulled in an audience of over 78.3 million players. Since its release in 2011, Minecraft has amassed 126 million active players worldwide, many of which are children and teenagers. Roblox is not too far behind — in 2020, it reported 115 million monthly active users.
To help your child lead a more functional life, we first need to understand why they play these games. Here is a step-by-step list to wean your child off Fortnite, Roblox, and Minecraft.
- Understand why your child likes to play these games.
- Build a rapport with them. Reduce friction in your relationships.
- Have conversations around their gaming habits without the intent to modify them.
- Start to implement a plan to wean them off video games.
- Set firm, fair, and effective boundaries around their gaming habits.
- Deal with resistance effectively and appropriately.
The first step to helping your child overcome their video game addiction is to understand why they play so many video games in the first place. Keep reading to learn about what Fortnite, Roblox, and Minecraft do for your child
If video games are leading your child, helping him overcome it does not have to be a one-person endeavor. It can be difficult to get on the same page as your kid and get him to stop spending the whole day gaming. We’ve worked with thousands of gamers, and we know we can help you, too. Click here to learn more about Healthy Gamer Parent Coaching.
Why do Children Play Fortnite, Roblox, and Minecraft?
Studies have shown that children crave challenge and mastery. They like to pick up new skills and improve them. In fact, evolutionary psychology has a narrative of people going out into the unknown, encountering and overcoming a challenge, and returning home with a prize.
We call this part of our psychology the triumph circuit. It is not a real circuit but more of a psychological pattern that makes overcoming challenges feel rewarding.
Fortnite heavily engages the triumph circuit. It is a Battle Royale game, which means that 100 people drop into an arena and fight it out till only one person remains. The risk and pressure are high, and you have to outplay and outmaneuver several people to be the last player standing. That makes the game extremely satisfying if you win. It is a massive boost to self-worth and confidence for children who have trouble in those aspects.
Roblox allows kids to play and create games for other people to play. This gets many gamers to try out programming, as you need to have a basic understanding of a simple programming language to create games in Roblox. Additionally, the game has leaderboards that allow kids to strive for the number 1 position in some of the most popular minigames.
Minecraft encourages kids to be creative. It allows them to express their ideas in a 3D sandbox environment. Some players play the game in survival mode, in which they have to fight monsters to survive. This is similar to the effect Fortnite has — it is extremely satisfying to create a structure and fight monsters, and win the game. Additionally, the game has an engineering aspect, in which gamers can create machines to accomplish certain game objectives. As a result, it also engages the problem-solving mind of the child.
All human beings have a fundamental need for social connection. We crave relationships with people who understand us and relate to us. However, many kids don’t form those relationships for several reasons. They may be bullied at school and not fit in with other popular teenagers. These children tend to find their refuge in video games and online communities.
This social connection is especially more valuable during the COVID-19 pandemic when many children are homeschooled and cannot meet their friends. Children are turning to online games to fulfill this need for social connection.
Fortnite allows you to meet other people in the game. You start the game in a party of 4, and you can talk to other people as you play. Usually, children talk about the game, but sometimes wholesome relationships can form.
Minecraft allows gamers to collaborate and build things together. Friendships formed in Minecraft tend to be genuine since gamers can collaborate and work on projects together. They can set arbitrary goals for themselves and work towards them. The game really encourages teamwork. Sometimes, the friendships formed in Minecraft can last for years and be super authentic. For many children, there is no difference between real-life friends and online friends.
Roblox is quite similar to Minecraft. Kids can find a shared location in the game universe to hang out in, play minigames together, and compete for better scores. They often get together to hang out and talk and fool around in the game without aiming for any particular objective.
Low Barrier to Entry
Both Roblox and Fortnite are free games. The entry barrier to these games is low since children can download and play them without parental intervention. Players are not required to purchase anything. However, one can buy items that change their character’s look. These purchases don’t boost their performance in the game — they make the character look good.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in our brain that regulates how much pleasure we feel. When we play a game that is engaging and fun, dopamine is secreted into our brain.
Fortnite gives you an adrenaline rush when you are trying to chase someone down or running away from someone. You get a hit of dopamine when you kill other players or outplay them.
Minecraft gives you a sense of satisfaction when you finish a project you have been working on for a while. Additionally, it is fun to go mining and to come upon rare resources randomly.
Roblox offers a lot of novelty. Players can play many different kinds of games. As a result, the game never gets old — there is always something more to play. In fact, Roblox is more of a platform to play games than a game itself. It allows players to express themselves artistically, as well as play minigames to experience surges of dopamine.
Where does Fortnite, Roblox, and Minecraft Addiction start?
Now that we understand why our children play video games, let’s look at why they initially played those games. It is important to understand this because we will ask them questions about their gaming habits in the later stages of weaning them off these video games.
- Challenges in games hack the triumph circuit. So kids no longer feel the need to engage in real-life challenges. It is easier and more fun to try to win at Fortnite than to work for good grades in school or do chores at home.
- Many kids don’t have friends in real life because they get bullied at school, or feel like an outcast. Online communities in these games give the kids a sense of belonging.
- Games such as Fortnite offer microtransactions, which are small purchases that accumulate in-game advantages or cosmetic items. These can be quite addicting. Children don’t have the impulse control to recognize when they are falling into addictive behaviors, and these systems are built upon that principle.
- Children also get addicted to games because video games suppress negative emotions. If a child feels sad, scared, anxious, or upset in any way, they can start playing video games and suppress those negative emotions. However, over time that leads to a condition called Alexithymia, which is the inability to determine your inner emotional state.
- Since video games are so fun to play, other activities begin to pale in comparison. For example, a child who plays a lot of video games will probably not have the attention span to enjoy reading a book.
These problems arise as a result of play too many video games. However, how do you know how much is too much? Keep reading to find out.
How Much Gaming is Too Much?
The signs of video game addiction are based on this principle: it is a problem if it causes a problem. Here are five clear signs that your son is gaming too much:
- Preoccupation with video games.
- Being unable to stop when needed.
- Being unable to cut back on time spent playing games.
- Prioritizing gaming over everything else.
- Problems with daily functioning.
You can start by asking yourself the following questions.
- Is gaming getting in the way of his academic performance?
- Is he not doing as well in school because he spends too much time playing video games?
- Is gaming getting in the way of his professional success?
- Is he not moving forward in his life because his time is taken up by gaming?
- Are video games interfering with his physical or mental health?
- Is he gaining too much weight? Should he be losing weight?
- Is gaming getting in the way of his sleep?
- Does gaming create problems in his relationships?
- Is gaming creating stress between him and you? Is there a disconnect between your idea and his idea of an appropriate amount of time spent playing video games?
Important Note: If it is not possible to have a conversation with your child about their gaming habit without him/her getting upset, avoid these questions for now. It is important to build a rapport around gaming and help your child understand that a conversation around it does not mean you will take their games away.
Click here for the comprehensive guide to video game addiction for parents.
How to Wean your Child off Fortnite, Roblox, and Minecraft
The first step is to build rapport. Spend more time with your child when he is gaming. You don’t need to engage with him. You don’t even need to watch him play. It will help to be in the same room as them when they are gaming. If they become uncomfortable, you can address this by saying you want to spend time with them, and they can continue gaming.
Once you’ve done that for a while, try to engage them and be supportive. Maybe even cheer for them when they win a game! Help them understand that you are in their corner. Once they understand that you understand where they are coming from, they will be way more likely to listen to you.
After you have built sufficient rapport with them, learn about their gaming habits. You can ask them the following questions:
- When does he play?
- Why does he play?
- Who does he play with?
- What games does he play?
Moreover, you don’t have to do this alone. Healthy Gamer has a solution for you if you:
- Fight with your teen daily to come down for dinner.
- Sometimes don’t see your teen for an entire weekend.
- You are afraid of social media’s impact on your teen’s mental health.
- Wonder what staying up late is doing to your teen’s physical health.
- Think your child is wasting his/her (above average) intellect.
Healthy Gamer Parents Support Group
The Healthy Gamer Family Support Program can help. It is a 12-week virtual coaching solution created by Dr. Alok Kanojia, known as Dr. K, the world expert on video game psychology. The Family Support Program covers the most frustrating, difficult, and common dynamics around excessive gaming, including:
- Managing your child’s expectations
- Setting and enforcing fair, effective boundaries
- Dealing with resistance from your child
- Approaching your child based on their stage in adolescence
- Adapting your approach for autism, ADHD, mood disorders, or substance use
For 12 consecutive weeks, participants get access to a workshop and Q&A with Dr. K and weekly support groups led by Healthy Gamer Coaches. The dual support structure helps parents get started, and follow-through in helping their children combat excessive gaming.
We’ve worked with thousands of gamers, and we know we can help you, too. Healthy Gamer Programs are effective and affordable because they’re led by people who get it.
- Healthy Gamer’s affordable solutions are priced to be cheaper than seeing a therapist. For the price of three hours of therapy, you get three months of support from Dr. K, Healthy Gamer Coaches, and other parents.
- Support groups work. As an evidence-based organization, all Healthy Gamer programs use validated outcome measures to ensure progress.
- We get it. Dr. K leads the industry in expertise working with gamers and their families. All Healthy Gamer Coaches are trained and supervised by Dr. K to ensure the highest quality of outcomes.
Click here to learn more about the Healthy Gamer Family Support Program.