Why My Tween Isn't Getting Fortnite (Or A Cell Phone)

by Clint Edwards
Originally Published: 
gettyimages/ dolgachov

My son is 11, and he really wants the game Fortnite. Naturally, all his friends are playing it. Allll of them. He brings it up alll the time; however, I doubt it’s actually all of them. I am confident that there are parents like me who are digging in their heels a bit about something. It might be a cellphone. It might be a tablet, or a Nintendo Switch, or some other this or that all kids must have, but some parents just aren’t giving in.

So here’s the thing. I don’t think that Fortnite is all that bad of a game from what I can read online. But it has a rating of Teen. My wife and I are good about researching video games online because, well, we don’t play them. I haven’t played video games since the Sega Genesis. I’m not interested. I honestly have other things I’d rather do, like write and read and slam my head in a car door.

And I know there are going to be some parents that are ready to jump in here, and tell me that I need to give it a try and play video games with my kids, but I’m not going to. I’m just not into it. But my son, well, it’s his obsession. If I allowed it, he’d just play games all day. He’d never shower or leave the house or do anything productive. He’d just play video games. So Mel and I have put limits on how much he can play, and we made a choice last year to stick to the recommended age ratings on video games.

Thus, Fortnite is rated Teen. This means it’s recommended that my son be 13-years-old and up to play, end of story. We put a hard line in the sand, and it has haunted me for months now with Tristan saying, “Please” a million times as if he’s actually in a hole, starving and dehydrated, without access to this game.

But I don’t care. As parents, we have to put down rules, right? It’s our job. We have to be faced with a million choices for our children, and we have to make a decision.

Maybe you’ve decided not to get your child a cellphone for a million good reasons. Naturally, there are arguments on both sides, from safety to communication. But at the same time, it feels good to not sit next to your child as they stare at their screen — sucked into a social gathering online, bitching to a group of other kids avoiding eye contact with their parents, about how their parents suck.

And the fact is, I know that not all of Tristan’s friends play Fortnite. I know most of their parents, and I know a number of them that have the same rule that we do. But sure, when you are a kid, it can feel like everyone has what you don’t. Not that Tristan has a bad life. He doesn’t. He has an awesome life, in my opinion. And he is going to continue to have an awesome life without Fortnite until he’s 13. And naturally, by then, the game probably won’t even matter anymore, and I’ll be arguing over something with a Mature rating. But such is life.

Of course, I’ve told him all of this, and he looks at me like I’m committing a crime. But I’m not. What I’m doing is teaching him that there is a time and a place for all things. There are rules and laws and they have a reason and a purpose, and that he can still live a good life without getting that hot new thing. My hope is that this will teach him to respect other laws, like the proper age to drink and smoke and drive a car.

But naturally, there is the fear that he might hate me for the rest of his life over this. He might pack his things and run away to some place with a family that loves him enough to provide him with Fortnite.

But I doubt it.

So I’m sticking to my guns here, and so is my wife. I don’t feel bad about it, and if you are in a similar situation, you shouldn’t either. Don’t let other parents roll their eyes and tell you something isn’t a big deal, because this is your home, and your rules. They can decide what’s a big deal in their home. And don’t let your children pressure you into bending on something that you don’t agree with. It will all be good in the long run. Trust me.

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