Fortnite is not bad

posted Oct. 15, 2018 by Masha Leder

There has been a lot in the news and plenty of discussions regarding the Fortnite game: how it contributes to the rate of divorces in England and how it gets kids and young people addicted. I on the contrary want to vouch for Fortnite. My son had been playing it extensively for quite some time. He spends on average a couple of hours a day playing it, even more on weekends. It so happened that he's using my office computer to play the game, so I have to place myself next to him when I'm doing my college homeworks. I see and hear him play. He has earphones on like a pilot flying a plane, his microphone is on and he is in constant conversation with his teammates. They make decisions every split-second, he became masterful in assessing his surroundings, his fingers flying over the keyboard. I have never heard my son laugh so loud at one second, then be as concentrated and serious the other. At times my husband and my daughter move their chairs next to his and just sit watching him play, as in a theater. Because it's really quite a sight.

I can hear him talk to different team members in different voice, using different intonations and language depending on how experienced they are. He would speak in more educating and quiet voice to novices explaining them what and how to do. He would be more aggressive with his better playing palls. I overheard him say once to a teammate: "Stop cursing".

I would say the game contributes to him becoming more social and self-confident. Even his younger sister told me the other day: "Look mom, Levi has become so much more social because of Fortnite!" He has friends he's talking about the game now, he's constantly in communication with people who are on his team. And this is the greatest thing about Fortnite. This is a team game, a collective effort, and there should be a collective strategy employed to reach the goal, whatever the goal is.

One more thing is that Fortnite contributes to friendships in real life. My son claims friendships with his Fortnite partners had deepened in real life. One of those pals is on his soccer team. Levi admits there is a special trust between them playing soccer in real life after playing Fortnite on the computer. The same goes for his school friends.

Another amazing thing Fortnite contributes to is imagination. I remember us walking on the beach near the marina the other week and there was a gate on the bridge that was closed for a public entrance, on the other side of the gate there were boats in water. I remember us discussing how can one actually get to those boals if the gate is surrounded by water. "You can build around it," - said my son and all my family laughed because they all knew what it meant. Yes, as a Fortnite hero if you are doing good you have a supply of material in your backpack that you can use to build something to climb over things. So this invented world of a video game is now living inside those kids and widens their perception of what is possible in life. And hopefully with that they will create and invent new things.

Yes, it is a violent game. The heroes basically kill each other, however, those heroes are not perceived by players as real people and I remember that there was research done saying that violent games actually do not contribute to increase of violence. On the contrary, they allow people to express their darkers desires In a form of a game to become free of them. My son confirms that this game is not teaching him violence.

Yes, kids get addicted to it and are not willing to stop. Well, there will be always things in life we get addicted to. Ideally we should develop the mechanisms to be able to regulate the addiction. As kids, we rely on parents to regulate our lives. And yes, it is up to us parents to organize our kids' lives. Even though it might present a challenge to create a fulfilling life for a teenager who has played Fortnite or another video game of 21century, for that matter. However, I am convinced that we should keep trying.

I have recently started interning as a clinician and am working with families with adolescents and teens. I realized how little parents keep their kids engaged, interested, empowering their minds to grow. Parent would come and complain about a child not knowing what to do with themselves when their Fortnite or movie time is over for the day. "I tell him to go do something else now!" It feels like parents are expecting children to find something else to do with themselves on their own. Well, as parents we might want to learn parenting skills and keep educating ourselves on how to provide children with the variety of experiences that will get them exposed to different things. We also should do things WITH them. "I have two rules in my house. Bring good grades and don't be a dick", - one father told me. Well, I guess there might be time for some more.

Science CAN be fun!

posted Nov 27, 2017 by Masha Leder

Here is an amazing TED talk by Tyler DeWitt who thinks American educational system is too serious about teaching science, that is why kids do not peruse scientific paths in life, that is the reason why kids don’t like or understand science. He has a fun science YouTube channel and he proves that science can be fun. Subscribe to his channel and let your children learn chemistry/ science in a FUN WAY!

About Tyler DeWitt

Tyler DeWitt hosts the YouTube channel, 'Science with Tyler DeWitt,' aimed at helping students understand chemistry. In the past, he taught Biology, Chemistry and English at high schools in both the United States and South Korea. DeWitt was a National Science Foundation Fellow and in 2014, received his Ph.D. in Microbiology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Loneliness Epidemic

posted Nov 9, 2017, by Masha Leder

I have just read an article by Vivek H. Murthy, a former surgeon general during the Obama administration, called "Work and the Loneliness Epidemic". It mostly talks about loneliness in workplace and professional environment, however I think it will be interested to a broader audience. Relationships between parents and kids - how lonely we are at times with our kids in a room next door with their doors closed and their mysterious lives. How lonely our pre-teens and teens are at times while feeling socially awkward and unsupported by their communities.... What actions can be taken to support our kids and us? There is something to inquire... "We must take action now to build the connections that are the foundation of strong companies and strong communities", - writes Murphy. What action can we take in our own family?

Mindfulness for children

posted Nov 8, 2017 by Masha Leder

Great article from NY Times about how kids can be happier and healthier if they learn to use a tool of being able to stop and reflect on the present by bringing a gentle, accepting attitude to the present moment. It is a useful tool for decreasing anxiety. Learn more about activities that develop compassion, focus, curiosity and empathy.

Mindfulness for Children (NY Times)

Parenting Teenage Girls: Interview with Lisa Damour, Ph.D.

posted Nov 8, 2017 by Masha Leder

Adolescence might be a challenging time for parents. This amazing podcast interview helps parents shift perspective on adolescence, gives tips on how to raise teenagers, and teen girls in particular. It's 48 min long, you can listen online or download mp3 to your phone/comp. It is worth the time!

Parenting teenage girls -

Info about the podcast -

Book by Dr. Damour: Untangled: Guiding teenage girls through the seven transitions into adulthood