“That game shouldn’t be allowed. Where is the benefit of having it in your household? It’s created to addict, an addiction to keep you in front of a computer for as long as possible. It’s so irresponsible.”
Prince Harry is the latest parent duking it out with Fortnite. The Duke of Sussex, whose first child with Meghan Markle is due in the next few weeks, called the game “addictive” and “irresponsible” while speaking with mental health experts at a YMCA event in west London on Thursday. Prince Harry added that parents are at a loss at how to rein in their kids’ Fortnite obsession. “Parents have got their hands up – they don’t know what to do about it,” he said. “It’s like waiting for the damage to be done.” (Epic Games has yet to respond to a MarketWatch request for comment.)
The open-world survival game released in 2017 is set in a version of modern-day Earth where most of humanity has disappeared. Players collect resources, make weapons and battle each other to stay alive. And Fortnite now counts 250 million registered players around the world, and around 45 million active players across all platforms, including mobile (iOS and Android), PC and Mac computers, as well as gaming consoles like the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. While day-to-day play of the $59.99 game is mostly free, game-maker Epic Games is reportedly making more than $300 million a month, largely from micro transactions within the game (forking over real money for in-game currency) to buy items and customize characters.
But many parents and healthcare professionals are concerned about the game’s hold on children. NBC reported that dozens of “Fortnite” support groups for parents venting about their kids’ obsession with the game have sprung up on Facebook. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) proposed a new bill dubbed the Kids Internet Design and Safety (KIDS) Act on Thursday to protect children from the dangers of the internet, which includes ending “manipulative and damaging design features” that push children to spend more time with screens.
The World Health Organization also labeled ’gaming disorder’ as a mental health condition for the first time last year, warning that the digital distraction becomes a disorder when “increasing priority [is] given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities,” and if the person continues to play or escalates how much they play despite negative consequences, such as interfering with their work or education, dissolving their relationships and hurting their personal health.” In fact, research has shown that 200 divorces in the UK from January to September 2018 mentioned addiction to Fortnite and other online games as one reason the marriages dissolved.
Prince Harry also claimed that social media sites like Facebook, Twitter TWTR, +0.87% Snapchat SNAP, +4.96% and Instagram are “more addictive than alcohol and drugs.” Ironically, this comes just days after he and his wife joined Instagram, themselves — and their @sussexroyal page has already amassed 3.5 million followers.
Honestly he’s not wrong.