Metro Detroit parents share worries about their kids' Fortnite obsession

Posted at 2:49 PM, Jan 07, 2019

LAKE ORION, Mich. (WXYZ) — The hottest video game out there has some parents worried that their kids are becoming obsessed. We talked to two families about Fortnite and the impact it's having on family life.

Fortnite is the latest craze, but some kids and even adults are becoming addicted. Fortnite rehabs are now opening in some parts of the country. And as two Lake Orion moms shared, trying to keep the Fortnite frenzy in check is a challenge.

Chances are if you don’t know what Fortnite is, you have caught the dances from the game: The Floss, Take the L and Orange Justice or the hype.

"People always brag about Fortnite in my classroom, like when they always win, they always come to school and brag about it,“ said 8-year-old Raylin Brassert.

Lake Orion mom, Natalie Brassert and her neighbor, Christine, have six kids combined and all of them are fans of Fortnite. Both moms monitor the screen time, but the push back when it’s time to shut it down can be a game changer.

“My 8-year-old gets dark, like really easy.” Natalie Brassert explains. “There’s like this switch that goes off, and if she’s not allowed to do something, it’s just like she’s a completely different person and you got to pull her back to reality.”

Neighbor 15-year-old Gavin Propst plays every day and tells us there are a lot of benefits to Fortnite. He points out that it is a very social game because you are playing online with up to 100 other players.

"It challenges every part of your brain, if that makes sense. You have to worry about precision and accuracy and you also have to worry about your speed skills of building,” Propst tells us.

Gavin also is aware that there are downsides when the game is abused

“It’s real easy to lose time,” said Propst. "I’ve personally gone overboard many times.”

Since this game is audio interactive Gavin heard his friend’s house when his mom asked him to shut down at the end of the day.

“Alright, like shut it off, it’s time for bed, and he was like alright mom just give me a minute to finish the games and then she started totally freaking out on him,” Propst recalls.

Dr. Joel L. Young is a staff psychiatrist at Beaumont Hospital and has treated children that have become obsessed with video games. He warns of the most obvious red flags of when too much game playing crosses over to addiction.

“If grades are declining, if sociability is diminishing, if they’re not listening to authority figures. If they are starting to deceive and started to interfere with quality of life and the life of their family,” he says.

Gavin’s mom notices a side effect, a change in her kids when they are on screens too long.

“It seems like if they’re on it for too long you can just sort of tell that their attitude gets a little bit more short, they can be a little more…just cranky” said Christine Propst.

Both moms make sure their kids keep a great balance and make school work and chores are done before they are rewarded with any screen time.

"I think that just making sure you allot some time, one-on-one, even if it’s just reading for 20 minutes at the end of the day with your kid, so they get pulled back from that obsession,” said Brassert.

“The vast majority of children can self-regulate and this is a part of their life,” said Dr. Young. “But for most kids, it's positive, we should encourage it. Regulate how much time is spent but recognize this is part of today’s culture.”

The American Academy of Pediatics has a great interactive tool to help parents create goals and rules that will work for their families.