Jaden, pictured above with his mother Lisa, is the Essex boy who finished second in the Fortnite World Games final this week and shared the £ 1.8 million win with his gaming partner. When my younger son started to participate in competitions, I felt particularly concerned
How reassuring it is to hear as a mother about a success story about teenagers.
A 15-year-old boy who, through his own skills, enterprise, dedication and hard grafting, has fought his way to the top of his specific pile, where he can stand, waving triumphantly with the benefits of his happiness as a standard.
And what wins – £ 900,000 no less. That is the university, plus his own house after graduation. Which parent would not read & rejoice such a story?
Except in the case of Jaden Ashman, it filled us all with utter horror.
Jaden is the Essex boy who finished second in the Fortnite World Games final this week and shared the £ 1.8 million win with his gaming partner.
With that prize, he set fire to the argument of every mother who, like me, worked for hours on coaxing, begging, begging, begging and threatening in a desperate attempt to stop them from playing this game that put them in their is in control.
Children like my 12 and 14 year old sons now have a legitimate reason to spend hours in their room playing this game because they think – like millions of other young people – that it could make them a fortune. Because it could in theory.
The premise is as violent as it gets, but the graphics are not bloody – which is why so many parents have allowed their children Fornite to forbid other violent computer games
That probably won't do it – there are 250 million Fortnite players worldwide and Jaden was one of the 40 million who tried to qualify – but the evidence is there.
Gaming is even a career choice for God's sake – they are known as professional esports players! What hope do we have?
Like most of his friends, my younger son spends hours playing Fortnite every week, players parachuting to an island where they have to hunt down weapons to destroy rival players.
The premise is as violent as it gets, but the graphics are not bloody – which is why so many parents have allowed their children Fornite to forbid other violent computer games.
It has an age rating of 12, and you could say, as some children do, that it's just Space Invaders for the 21st century.
There is something very wrong with a world where teenagers can become a millionaire for photographing people in computer games, while 3.7 million children in the UK live in poverty. A stadium for one of the Fornite matches is shown above
I was not a fan of the game from the beginning – listening to your children arguing about the merits of guns versus pistols or congratulating each other on their "murders" is enough to make every mother's blood cold.
But I decided not to banish my sons completely from the game when I realized that they had exchanged bickering because they had fought each other.
Instead of bickering, they started challenging each other for duels, complimenting each other on their gameplay during dinner and discussing how to improve tactics the next time.
I don't like to admit it, but there is no doubt that progress in Fortnite requires skills – such as solving problems, prioritizing and staying calm under pressure – that my sons can't hurt.
That does not mean that it is not very addictive. My 12 year old would spend every waking hour playing Fortnite if I didn't control him as vigorously as I did.
Children also claim that playing Fortnite keeps them connected to their friends – another point I cannot deny.
With that prize, Jaden (pictured above) set fire to the argument of every mother who, like me, persuaded her children for hours, cheated, beg, beg and threatened in a desperate attempt to stop them from playing this game, that they are in their thrall
Today's children don't invite friends home after school like my generation did – my oldest son could barely hide his laughter recently, when I suggested that he invite some friends for a coke and a kickabout.
In these days of social media and virtual reality, one of the most social things a young person can do is meet a classmate online to play Fortnite.
And yes, it hurts me to say, there are benefits for parents. I spend less time driving my children to their friends' homes than my parents, and I never worry about their whereabouts.
On the other hand, I sometimes have to send them a text message to tell them that their dinner is ready, such as the intensity of their concentration when they are engaged in a fierce game.
Then there are the arguments. Oh, the fights we've had! They are usually started by me and storm into my younger son's room on Saturday afternoon to find him, still in his pajamas, curtains closed, eyes full of teeth, toothless brushed. I pulled cables out of the wall, I even put the remote control to work.
Obviously this is not going well. Like everything you ban children from, whether it's TV, sweets, or carbonated drinks, those who are denied access always seem to be the ones who crave disproportionately.
Fortnite has influenced family life, school work and even my relationship with my husband.
I know we are not alone – all the mothers I know fight in the same Fortnite fight. We all have stories about abandoned family days, because our children – wary of dragging Fortnite tournaments with their friends – put pressure on our family time attempts.
& # 39; I am just finishing this competition & # 39 ;, is a chorus that we all hear far too often when we try to get the family around the table to eat or walk out the door.
When my younger son started to participate in competitions, I felt particularly concerned.
From pressure to participate to frustration when competitions don't find their way, it started to feel like Fortnite dominated our lives.
At a certain point, when he was particularly successful in an important game, I found the intensity far too stressful for what was, after all, only a game.
And don't be fooled into thinking that this is just a game where the best man wins. As often in life, it is also the man with the most money.
Fortnite is free to download, but players are constantly encouraged to spend money on a series of in-app purchases to improve their game – many of which are only available for a limited time, increasing the pressure to spend. My sons have seen birthday and spending money disappear in this virtual vacuum.
My younger son says he is jealous of many of his friends because his father plays Fortnite with him.
Of course I appreciate the time my husband spends with him, but I prefer them to kick bikes or balls than to shoot imaginary enemies.
Even our daughter, who is five, likes to watch him play. From the cartoon characters that appear in the game to the dance madness that engulfs the playground, it all seems designed to appeal to children as young as they are.
Maybe as parents we have to accept part of the blame for the rapid rise of the game. After all, kids who spend hours on Fortnite are easier than kids looking for constant entertainment.
I don't like to admit it, but there is no doubt that progress in Fortnite requires skills – such as solving problems, prioritizing and staying calm under pressure – that won't hurt my sons (file photo)
To give an example, my children were happy to commit to a two-week family vacation without game consoles earlier this month. I asked them why they only want to play computer games at home, but don't miss them when they are gone.
Their answers were honest and sobering: on vacation we spent our days together without work pressure or household distractions, and our time was filled with surfing, kayaking, and swimming.
"It's not a competition," one of them said. "We'd rather do that every day than we play Fortnite." But of course such activities are not open to them every day.
Yet I am not afraid to issue a Fortnite ban if necessary. But while my younger boy kicks on these rules, he invariably protrudes from a Fortnite restriction with a new perspective and acknowledges that he is more concerned with family time and is generally happier when his life is not about the exclusion of all the other.
And that's why I think it's a shame that winning a cash prize for playing a computer game has become a serious goal for so many children.
There is something very wrong with a world where teenagers can become a millionaire for photographing people in computer games, while 3.7 million children in the UK live in poverty.
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