Primary schools are telling parents keep your children AWAY from violent Fortnite computer game

Primary schools are warning parents their children’s education is being damaged by the violent video game Fortnite.

Ministers may be forced to take urgent steps to prevent youngsters flouting age restrictions on the game.

Teachers say pupils younger than Fortnite’s supposed age limit of 12 are becoming obsessed with the game, affecting their concentration in school.

And parents report how Fortnite turns normally placid children into belligerent thugs obsessed with guns and killing.

The Mail has found schools across the country pleading with parents to stop children spending their days glued to the game.

Schools across the country are pleading with parents to stop children playing the Fortnite computer game as it is hooking children as young as nine

In an email to parents, head Jemma Garside, who runs a primary school in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, wrote: ‘Unfortunately discussions around this game are being brought … into the classroom which is distracting children from their learning.’

Another school in Bristol said pupils as young as seven were playing. A post on the school’s website said: ‘We’ve heard some of our children, including in Year 3, are playing a game online called Fortnite … if your child is playing this game talk to them and make sure you know what they are doing.’

It comes as MPs are considering introducing laws which could see companies fined for failing to police age restrictions.

Last night, Culture Secretary Matt Hancock’s Parliamentary Private Secretary Nigel Huddleston said he was ‘horrified’ to hear stories of children becoming addicted to the game. The MP for Mid Worcestershire admitted friends of his 12-year-old son spoke of ‘nothing else’, although his own child does not play. He said: ‘The Government is going to be making it increasingly difficult for children to see inappropriate content.’ Recent cases highlighted the game’s ‘addictive nature’ and ‘the extent to which it quickly impacts behaviour’, he added.

During a game of Fortnite, players battle to survive on an island against strangers online – fighting and killing each other until one only person is left, hunting for weapons such as assault rifles along the way. It was given an age rating of 12 for ‘frequent scenes of mild violence’. Though the game is combat-focused, no blood is displayed on screen.

Parents report that Fortnite turns normally placid children into belligerent thugs obsessed with guns and killing

Parents report that Fortnite turns normally placid children into belligerent thugs obsessed with guns and killing

On Sunday, it emerged a girl, aged just nine, was in rehab after becoming so addicted that she would wet herself rather than leave the screen.

Mr Huddleston described the situation as ‘horrifying’ and ‘horrendous’. He warned that developers of such video games must take responsibility for the potential impact of highly addictive content.

Concerned parents have taken to forums such as Mumsnet to vent their fears. One mother wrote of her primary school age son: ‘Yesterday he saw a poster with a man and child in a swimming pool … and commented that it would be a perfect shot to blow their heads off.’

Another added that her son, aged nine, had become addicted and she had imposed a ban on the game after his ‘behaviour deteriorated massively’. She wrote: ‘It was awful to see how angry he was becoming … I seriously wish I’d never let him on it.’

Fortnite’s creators could not be reached for comment.

Are you worried about the amount of time your children spend playing violent games like Fortnite? Email

My boys wanted to play it rather than go on the beach in Barbados…

By Beezy Marsh 

Our household is gripped by the Fortnite-mare, though I can’t recall the exact moment it began. But I can tell you, as a mum to a very tech-savvy 13-year-old boy and his inquisitive 11-year-old brother, once it had my children in its glittery, cartoon-like grasp, its effect has been very hard to control.

I’m a very hands-on mother – running around the park, learning to ride horses with the kids and even bouncing on their trampoline on occasion.

I have armed myself to the teeth with Nerf guns and foam bullets, built forts out of pillows and learned to karate chop like Jackie Chan for the sake of family togetherness.

But one weekend not long after Christmas, all that changed. It wasn’t the fact that my children were getting too old for fun and outdoorsy games.

No, it was the arrival on the screens of their computers and Playstation, of a game called Fortnite.

I have always allowed them some screen time, though I prided myself on the fact that my oldest boy only got a phone for his 13th birthday a few months back. My husband took on the responsibility of monitoring content; they have only ever had access to age-appropriate material – no 18 certificate, sweary, gory shoot-em-up games were ever allowed in our house.

Our household is gripped by the Fortnite-mare, though I can’t recall the exact moment it began says Beezy Marsh, pictured here with her 13-year-old son Idris Taylor

Our household is gripped by the Fortnite-mare, though I can’t recall the exact moment it began says Beezy Marsh, pictured here with her 13-year-old son Idris Taylor

So, when my eldest came home from school and asked if he could get a new game, called Fortnite, because the other kids in his year were playing it together, I couldn’t really see the harm in it. Once it had passed the dad-security checks, it was downloaded on to my son’s computer and also on to the Playstation. Whereas some games cost upwards of £50, the big bonus here was that Fortnite was free! Great.

One of our great family traditions on Friday nights after school is to sit and have a film together after dinner but with the prospect of Fortnite-play looming, both of my boys were adamant that they should be allowed to power up the Playstation when we got in.

If I had been a bit firmer at the start, perhaps it might have stopped what was to come but I didn’t see the harm in them having a go; they’d both worked hard that week. After an hour had elapsed, I went to have a look at what the kids were up to; normally I could get away with maybe 20 minutes without some kind of fight breaking out between them, or a Nerf bullet whizzing past my ear, or a demand to go to the park or to the shops to buy sweets.

But once they were plugged into Fortnite – with their headsets allowing them to speak to each other via their microphones – there was no shifting them.

They were talking to each other in a bizarre language – “On me!” , “Where are we dropping, boys?”, “I got an AR”, “He got a legendary SCAR”. The last two, it turned out, were names for weapons.

Did they want any pudding? I had got chocolate ice-cream, their favourite. There was no response. “Shall we go to Risky Reels or Tilted Towers?” asked Number One son.

In the end I got two bowls of ice-cream and set them down in front of them. I watched them melt. My kids were stuck to that screen like glue and in the end, I had to shout at them and pull the plug out of the wall to get them off it. And that was just the start of the great Fortnite-mare. They’d get up ridiculously early on a school morning to play before I was out of bed; they’d whine and moan to be allowed on after school and would sneak on when my back was turned if I refused.

The guinea pig was forgotten, their chores were left undone and I found myself losing my temper with them because every time they were on it, they developed a total deafness to the world around them.

And yet, there were positives: they could play with friends who lived miles away, there was no blood in the game, they got to be teddy bears or disco dancers (albeit gun-toting ones) and the graphics in the game were amazing to look at.

However, for us, the low point came on a trip of a lifetime to Barbados at Easter when they wanted to stay in and play – you guessed it – Fortnite rather than go to the beach. We pulled the plug and started a slow process of rehabilitation; card games, swimming together, actually talking to each other again.

Since then, we have allowed them Fortnite at weekends only and during holidays but for a limited time. They know that we ultimately have control over it. And while they spent some Christmas pocket money buying V-bucks, the game’s currency, no amount of pester-power will persuade me to part with any more cash.

My biggest hope is that like fidget spinners and slime before them, this craze will have had its day before the summer is out.