A class action lawsuit was filed against Epic Games in Canada and a judge is allowing it to move forward. The class action lawsuit alleges Epic Games designed Fortnite to create a dependency in users and failed to provide warnings of the risks associated with playing.
Parents in the United States are attempting a similar lawsuit against Epic Games but have so far been thwarted as the tool used by the American Psychiatric Association called the diagnostic and statistical manual, or DSM, does not classify gaming addiction as a mental disorder. In Canada, they follow WHO guidelines which has categorized video game addiction as a mental health disorder.
Boston mom, Deanna Greenstein, said she noticed her 12 & 13 year old sons became obsessed almost instantly.
"It really consumes their lives, that they were coming home from school and they didn't want to go outside to play basketball. They didn't want to go and physically hang out with their friends," she said.
She's even noticing a change in their behavior.
"I didn't like how angry it made them. I would say it's definitely addictive," Greenstein said.
Neurologist Dr. Andrew Newberg says "Just like with a drug or alcohol, they actually experience withdrawal! They might feel kind of down or upset or irritable when they're not able to play their games."
When reached for comment, Defendant Epic Games stated "These claims are meritless. We have industry-leading parental controls that empower parents to supervise their child's digital experience."
This is true. Fortnite currently leads the gaming industry in parental controls. They can set up their child's account to verify who they're adding to their friends list, who they can voice chat with, language filters for text chat,purchase permission and playtime reporting. Responsible parents set up these controls using a pin number, that pin number will have to be entered to complete actions like adding friends,completing purchases, or overriding settings.
Video games, just like all social media are inherently designed to be addictive and placing a warning about this as the lawsuit suggests, does nothing to address the problem. Gamers are likely to skip the warning without reading it or simply choose to ignore it. If your child appears to be addicted to Fortnite or any other game, it's your responsibility to teach them the value of time management. Don't be too harsh with them about this. Just be understanding and encouraging. Set goals with them to manage their time gradually. The sooner your child learns about time management, the better.
We also recommend that you watch them play their games sometimes and analyze what their experience is. Are they good at the game? Are they yelling at the tv? Are they having fun playing? Do they stream while playing? Making these observations are a vital step in deciding how to move forward. For example, if your child is angry and yelling, address this issue first. If your child is really good at the game or really enjoys it, they can make it a legitimate career path via streaming and/or competing in cash money tournaments online. There have been many young Fortnite players who quickly launched a career making over six figures already. Could your child be the next one? Pay attention.