Angry people calling for computer games to be banned because of the effect they have on children is nothing new.
We’ve seen this before with other games and now the latest to face criticism – well, from one mum on This Morning in particular – is Fortnite.
In my house, we seem to measure time in how long before my son’s allotted Fortnite time begins.
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So, in many ways I can totally sympathise with Leo’s mum.
They are noisy when they play it, shouting instructions down their mics, caught up in the excitement of the cat-and-mouse element of the game.
There are the highs when they manage a magnificent win and the inevitable lows when their character is killed off (though my son usually blames this on the lag or his team mates rather than his skills).
It is a very addictive game – and not just for children, I’ve been known to play a couple of rounds in a bid to understand what the fuss is all about.
For the uninitiated, Fortnite is a wildly popular computer game which has captured the attention of lots of children as well as plenty of adults.
There are two modes. Firstly, Save the World which is a survival game where the players have to explore, scavenge, build fortresses and fight off monsters.
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Then there’s Battle Royale where players are either solo or in squads of up to four and are dropped on to an island where they have to eliminate other players as a deadly ‘storm’ closes in and be the last one standing.
Having played Battle Royale, I can totally understand how little Leo finds it so addictive – the chance of winning is pretty slim (especially for me) so once you have been killed off it is tempting to go straight back in for another match because of course you’ll do better next time.
But this is where my sympathy for Leo’s mum ends.
Because her son is ten and there is a good reason why computer games carry age restrictions.
Every parent makes a decision whether their children are mature enough to play games which are out of their age range.
Having been sniped by someone with the number 2008 in their screen name, I am pretty certain Leo isn’t the only under 12 playing the game.
But, if you discover your underage child is not coping well with the game it is not then the fault of the game itself but rather your misjudgement about what is appropriate for your child.
I am not bashing anyone – what you choose as appropriate for your son or daughter is completely up to you as their parent.
However, dragging said child on national television to moan about his personality change when he plays a game with an older age rating it is also a bit rich too.
While computer games often bear the brunt of complaints about children’s behaviour – there is no conclusive proof that this is the case.
One 2014 study, carried out by Christopher J. Ferguson, Professor of Psychology at Stetson University, Florida, found video game consumption was in fact associated with a decline in youth violence rates.
In another study, University of Oxford researchers found that poor behaviour could be linked to the time spent playing computer games but not the types of games that were being played.
Lead author Dr Andrew Przybylski, from Oxford University’s Oxford Internet Institute, said: ‘We can see links between some types of games and children’s behaviour, as well as time spent playing.
‘However, we cannot say that game play causes good or bad behaviour.
‘We also know that the risks attached to game-playing are small.
‘A range of other factors in a child’s life will influence their behaviour more as this research suggests that playing electronic games may be a statistically significant but minor factor in how children progress academically or in their emotional wellbeing.’
However, if a child is shunning family time, finding normal life boring, screaming, hiding when told to come off – all things mum claimed was happening to poor Leo – it would suggest that child needs firmer boundaries.
Either they need to clearly know how long they are allowed to play for and when they are expected to come off.
Or they need to stop playing altogether.
None of this is the fault of Fortnite or its creators.
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