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Parents vs Fortnite. Part 1. What to do about the swearing?


The Fortnite years are not happy ones for most parents … and the game itself is not the only problem …

Q “ I am having a big problem with my 11 year-old son and online communication when he is gaming. He and his ‘friends’ play Fortnite/ Roblox together and the amount of bullying and name calling that goes on is insane. Things like – “You are gay arseholes,” and ” You’re fat and you look like you have Down Syndrome!” This is totally unacceptable but it seems to have become the norm. Not to mention the actual swearing these boys do. What I don’t understand is I can hear everything my boy says when he’s playing so why can’t other parents. My boy says sometimes the other boys are swearing and he can hear their parents talking in the background and not telling them to stop. I don’t believe stopping all the gaming is fair as he is not behaving like that but at the same time, what can one do?”

A: ” I also have a problem with some of the unacceptable language and names our son and his friends use when playing. As soon as I hear something our son says, and I don’t like it, I tell him to turn off and he can go back on when he doesn’t use unacceptable names and language. I agree with you – can the other parents not hear their kids? I had a chat to him yesterday about the language and he says they all want to sound cool. I informed him that bad names and language are not cool and I won’t tolerate it. He now knows that the Xbox will be turned off if it continues.”

” I know my kids swear etc, almost all the kids do, however it’s not permitted within my hearing and they need to be able to control it. I swear but can (and do) switch it off when the company isn’t accepting of bad language. The social aspect of gaming is a large part of the attraction for many kids, especially mine who have friends around the world whom they would have lost contact with if it weren’t for gaming keeping their friendships alive.”

” The language in the OP is definitely not ok. It’s tantamount to hate speech. I think the school should get someone to come in and talk about the power of language. And what it really means when you use “gay” as an insult. One of those bullying workshops… It’s really not ok. And they shouldn’t have licence to do that.”

” We have used Fortnite as a way to learn some of the issues with social media – etiquette, language, bullying, trolls. We have had consequences for inappropriate behaviour which has helped. I have had to stay incredibly engaged in the process to make sure I know what is going on – which has also made my relationship with my almost adolescent son better. Parents NEED to be alert and involved. It is up to us to teach our kids how to engage on this kind of platform. Running away from it doesn’t help as the kids are going to be confronted with this kind of thing for the rest of their lives. I’m definitely not getting it right – but I am trying (against my will sometimes) to stay engaged.”

” If kids use a headset then the parents cannot hear what is being said. However you can hear it if your son uses the microphone on the laptop and speaker. Make it a rule that they have to hear everything then intervene? Use it as a learning opportunity? Sometimes you just have to hammer away at things, go back and back and back, teaching the same lessons, until the penny finally drops. I guess that’s parenting.”

” Firstly, cut down on the x-box. Playing policeman is hard but it has to be done. But keep not around as both an incentive and a consequence. If they display good behavior, they can have access. Any bad behavior (including swearwords and that borderline hate-speech,) and it gets withdrawn. Make playing on it conditional on a balance of other activities – say homework, chores, reading a book, playing an instrument, exercise .. and only afterwards time to zone out? This has worked for us.”

” I agree! ALL those games hype them up and seem to bring out their worst selves. The way they talk to each other! Even if they’re NOT swearing, they’re often just so aggro and competitive. We have a three strikes rule. Three times too much ugly shouting, bad words, unsporting communication and the thing is off for the night.”

” A word from experience. Firstly … there’s a difference between a child engaging “normally,” ( boisterously, banter and perhaps a little out of control, using bad judgment sometimes,) and using ugly language like that. The game doesn’t make them utter slurs! That foul stuff is coming from somewhere else. Maybe the other “kids” on the Fortnite party? Lots of the people they’re playing with are not “kids” at all. You can’t necessarily control your kid’s exposure to this stuff … (it’s everywhere,) but you can teach him to understand why he cannot take part in that vile language himself. Also, much as we’d all probably love ours to be able to, you can’t really expect a teen to take on his peer group about what they say and how they say it. These kids’ social landscapes are very tough jungles out there. He can make a stand for himself, though, but to change other’s behavior can result in alienation and bullying. Hopefully through explaining and leading by example, you can show him that kids who behave in that way are not the right friends for him.”

” There is light at the end of the tunnel! My two older boys (matric,) have definitely aged out of xBox games. We did help it along by severely restricting their access, on the grounds of academic pressure and requirements for Grade 11 – and that helped break a borderline dependency. Now they seem more interested in chasing girls, partying and sleeping. Maybe they have just swapped one bad habit for another whole set of them!”

” Maybe use a voice recorder and record him. Play it back to him and ask him if they speak to each other this way on the cricket/rugby/soccer field. The answer will probably be no because their coach will put a stop to it. Which just shows how inappropriate it is. Not only is it degrading to speak to friends like that but it will affect his own moral code as the language will spill over in everyday life and he’ll get himself into trouble.”

” I really am not a fan of fortnite/minecraft but my son is part of a team that ousts and busts those swearing online. Don’t ask me how but he reports and is able to ban the foul mouthers ! There is hope!”

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