You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Girl, 9, in rehab for Fortnite addiction after becoming so hooked she WET HERSELF to keep playing

Mirror logo Mirror 11/06/2018 Matthew Barbour
Drawn in - Schoolgirl and the game © Mirrorpix.com Drawn in - Schoolgirl and the game

A girl aged nine is in rehab after becoming addicted to a video game that is gripping the nation’s kids.

UP NEXT
UP NEXT

Her horrified parents have revealed their daughter is in intensive ­therapy after ­getting hooked on the Fortnite game.

Over 40 million have ­downloaded the so-called ­survival shooter game since it was launched last July, sparking ­record numbers of digital addiction.

Experts fear she is one of many children at risk of developing mental health problems as a ­result of over-exposure to the fight-to-the-death scenarios.

The obsessed primary school pupil...

  • Secretly got up in the night and played until dawn
  • Neglected to go to the toilet because she could not bear to leave the screen
  • Hit her father in the face when he tried to confiscate her Xbox gaming console
  • Dozed off in class because of her night-time addiction
UP NEXT
UP NEXT
a group of people on a stage: Over 40 million have downloaded the so-called survival shooter game since it was launched last July, sparking record numbers of digital addiction © Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Over 40 million have downloaded the so-called survival shooter game since it was launched last July, sparking record numbers of digital addiction

Epic Games / SWNS.com

What is Fortnite? How to combat your child's rage at the game - a practical guide for parents

The girl’s mum told the Sunday People: “We had no idea, when we let her play the game, of the ­addictive nature or the impact it could have on her mental health.

"She is in ­therapy for the addiction after she ­became withdrawn, ­agitated and disturbed from playing up to ten hours a day – sometimes playing until dawn, wetting ­herself so she didn’t have to leave the screen.

“This is a serious issue which is destroying our little girl’s life and someone needs to step in to ban it before it becomes an epidemic.”

Fortnite has been endorsed by a multitude of top sport and music stars.

The game’s most popular format is the Battle Royale in which 100 players fight each other until one is left standing.

Although the game is free to download, its developers make money from hooked users who pay for in-game purchases to boost their performances.

Is your child being treated for an addiction? Email webnews@mirror.co.uk

a man wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: Culture Secretary Matt Hancock has warned that addictive online shooter games such as Fortnite have a damaging impact on children © Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Culture Secretary Matt Hancock has warned that addictive online shooter games such as Fortnite have a damaging impact on children

PA

Are YOUR kids addicted to Fortnite? How parents can steer their kids to video game health

Mum Carol, 36, said they bought their daughter an Xbox in January and shortly after she downloaded Fortnite.

She and her husband Richard, who we are not picturing to protect the identity of their daughter, say it was not until mid-March they noticed ­worrying signs.

Carol said: “We got called in by her head ­teacher asking if ­everything was OK. She had fallen asleep twice in lessons and her grades were slipping.

“When we asked our daughter what the ­problem was, she became unusually ­argumentative and aggressive, which we just put down to her hormones.”

But soon the sports-mad girl started saying she too tired to go to gym or ballet classes, as well as missing the family visits to church on Sunday mornings.

Noticing small but regular payments on their credit card to Microsoft, adding up to over £50 a month, they asked if she knew anything about this.

The mum said: “Our daughter told us it could be some extras she’d paid for on Fortnite.

“Of course we were furious and confiscated her Xbox. But then she lashed out and hit my husband in the face.”

Despite limiting their daughter’s time on the game to one hour on school nights and two on weekends, they were still suspicious.

Carol said: “My husband saw her light on in the night and found her sitting on a urine-soaked ­cushion playing the game.

“I found her backside was red-raw. She was so hooked to the game she wouldn’t even go to the toilet.”

a group of people sitting in the grass: The once sports-mad girl started saying she was too tired to go to gym or ballet classes so she could stay at home and play Fortnite © Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited The once sports-mad girl started saying she was too tired to go to gym or ballet classes so she could stay at home and play Fortnite

Epic Games

Children at risk of being turned into gamblers by online computer games, say experts

The next morning they sat her down and asked her to tell the truth.

The mum said: “Crying, she told us that every night for the past two months she had waited until we were asleep and then got up to play, sometimes until 5am.

“We worked out that she could have been playing for up to ten hours a day, and we’d had no idea.”

The parents contacted addictions counsellor Steve Pope, who agreed to see the girl for psychotherapy.

Steve told the Sunday People: “Over the last two months I’ve been ­contacted by dozens of parents with children as young as eight showing signs of addiction to Fortnite.

“I’ve been working in this field for three decades and never seen anything like it, how widespread and potentially damaging this is.

“I know bright kids who will fail their exams this summer because of Fortnite, kids who are stealing from their parents and friends to pay for the extras, kids who urinate in bottles because they can’t bear to leave the game.”

Experts claim it is the high-profile celebrity ­endorsements in recent weeks that have fuelled exposure.

Steve added: “You see Premier League footballers celebrating goals with Fortnite dances and it’s the biggest possible advert for kids.

“It’s the perfect gateway into ­addiction and gambling.”

Hundreds of women sign petitions to BAN Fortnite, amid claims the game is 'brainwashing' their boyfriends

Professional gamers are making up to £500,000 a month from live-streaming their Fortnite games for addicted children to watch.

The nine-year-old girl in our ­report is slowly ­getting back on track with her sports and schooling.

But her mum said: “I urge every parent out there to know what this game can do, how it sucks young children in and could ruin lives.”

Culture Secretary Matt Hancock has warned that addictive online shooter games such as Fortnite have a damaging impact on children.

6 TIPS TO KEEP ’EM SAFE

Gaming expert Andy Robertson of the online safety group Internet Matters offers six tips for parents on Fortnite:

1 Make sure it is age appropriate

The Video Standards council rate Fortnite as PEGI 12 for mild violence.

2 Monitor who your child is talking to

Check the communication settings on the game to ensure children aren’t talking to strangers.

3. Manage in-app purchases on the game

You will need to set up passwords on credit cards associated with the system.

4. Set time limits on Fortnite

Something you can agree with your child once you understand how the game works.

5. Join in

Families will get the most out of the game when parents join in and turn it from something in bedrooms to a game for the family room.

6. Stay in tune

Parents should keep abreast of updates in the game to be aware of possible costs.

For more info go to internetmatters.org.

Prem stars boost craze

Fortnite has gripped the footballing world – with players from Atletico Madrid to Cardiff City endorsing it.

The list of top-flight players performing Fortnite dances as goal celebrations extends from Atletico’s Antoine Griezmann to England stars Dele Alli, Harry Kane and Kieran Trippier.

Members of the England squad have openly bragged about their skills playing Fortnite.

Alli, 22, boasted he is top of the Three Lions’ ranking. The Spurs midfielder, who did the game’s “floss dance” to celebrate an FA Cup semi-final goal last month, said: “I think that it’s a great way to relax and rest your body playing ­PlayStation.

“I’d say I am the best ­Fortnite player. I’ve won over 100 games. But a lot of the boys have just started playing it.

a man on a football field: Members of the England squad, including Dele Alli, have openly bragged about their skills playing Fortnite © Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Members of the England squad, including Dele Alli, have openly bragged about their skills playing Fortnite

“We play in teams so it ­definitely brings us together.”

Cardiff defender Callum Paterson has made Fortnite celebrations his speciality.

And France international Griezmann regularly performs the “Take The L”dance after a goal. In the Fortnite game the dances are performed to celebrate a killing an opponent. Other celebrity fans of the game include Argentinian aces Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero.

The obsession with Fortnite even extends to watching others play.

a man looking at the camera: Last month an online video of Canadian rapper Drake playing Fortnite with pro-player Ninja was watched more than 600,000 times © Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Last month an online video of Canadian rapper Drake playing Fortnite with pro-player Ninja was watched more than 600,000 times

Getty

Last month an online video of Canadian rapper Drake playing Fortnite with pro-player Ninja was watched more than 600,000 times.

Ninja – real name Tyler Blevins – reportedly makes nearly £400,000 a month from live-streaming himself playing the game on Twitch, a live version of YouTube.

Fortnite’s makers, Epic Games, have even announced a Fortnite Celebrity Pro-Am which will pair 50 celebrities and 50 pro players.

Fear behind fun

Internet Matters ambassador and psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos says: “Games can become quite addictive for children because they’re fun in the way that cartoons are fun.

“A lot of apps or games act on the brain in the same way that an itch that needs to be scratched.

a person smiling for the camera: Child psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos says the games can be 'quite addictive for children' © Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Child psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos says the games can be 'quite addictive for children'

“Game creators encourage users to spend as long as possible on their game by playing on the basic psychological principles of reward and punishment.

“This can be dangerous as children don’t have much control over manipulation of their brain’s reward system.

“Parents need to look out for changes in behaviour and make sure their child has a good balance with other social and physical activities.”

Voice of The Sunday People: Video firms must make games safe

For parents who grew up with a couple of Italian plumbers called Mario and Luigi, today’s games market is a minefield.

Sometimes literally. Plenty of violent games feature exploding mines.

So responsible mums and dads ensure the games their ­children disappear into their ­bedrooms with are age ­appropriate and play is time limited. Then they leave them to it.

For them we have a salutary warning – our revelation today of how a nine-year-old girl ended up in rehab after becoming addicted to Fortnite.

Her story will disturb every parent with children of a similar age. As she became increasingly drawn into the game she began falling asleep in school.

Even though her parents give her an hour time limit on school days, she was getting up in the middle of the night for more, ­wetting herself because she was too engrossed to go to the loo.

It does not help that star ­footballers who kids look up to also promote the game.

Nor that professional game players can earn big money on ­internet video channels.

This shows is that all ­computer games have the potential to turn young people into addicts.

But too little is known about how they do it.

That’s why Digital Secretary Matt Hancock is insisting on ­industry-funded research into the potential damage they cause.

The industry is not so keen on co-operating. That means the Government must get even tougher with them.

They must come up with proper safeguards and comprehensive guidelines for young players.

And if they do not, Mr Hancock must legislate to make them.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from The Mirror

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon