Exclusive: 'Fortnite' survey shows kids are playing in class. So what can parents do?

If getting the kids and teens in your home to disconnect from "Fortnite" feels like a battle royal, take just a little bit of comfort. Parents,  you are not alone. 

Not that that’s going to completely relieve your stress over the widely popular third-person shooter game, played by over 200 million mostly obsessed people, your kids very likely among them. The game can be played solo or in teams or squads as part of a multiplayer match known as “Battle Royale.”

Kids play "Fortnite” in class when they should be paying attention to their teachers. They play on phones, tablets, PCs, Macs and on video game consoles hooked up to wall-size TVs. 

What's more, when they play, they may be chatting up strangers, exposed to (cartoonish) violence and taking in inappropriate language. And, oh yeah, they’re playing at the expense of doing their homework or engaging in physical activities.

While free to play, the kids are also spending gobs of money. Publisher Epic Games has made at least $1.2 billion on the sale of V-Bucks, the in-game currency used to purchase dances (which are called “emotes”), skins and custom outfits for your in-game alter-ego.

“There is no question that 'Fortnite' is the biggest pain point in terms of media and tech for kids today, and certainly their parents,” says Jim Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media, a nonprofit advocacy group for kids and families. “In the big picture, media and tech are designed to be addictive, period. This is emblematic of the fact that kids and teens are living their life on devices and online.” 

To get a better handle on the cultural phenomenon that “Fortnite” has become, and its impact, Common Sense teamed up with SurveyMonkey and in October polled a national sample of 19,063 adults – including 2,111 parents with children between 8 and 17 years old – and 1,348 teenagers ages 13 to 17. 

Among the high-level results of the Common Sense study, which have been released exclusively to USA TODAY and timed with the launch of "Fortnite" Season 7, about 1 in 5 parents find it at least moderately difficult to get kids off the game, and about a quarter say they're concerned about how much time their kid is playing. 

Meantime – and this has especially got to be a bummer for you moms and dads to hear – 27 percent of teens admitted that they were playing "Fortnite" in the classroom. 

Heck, when you were 15, you'd have probably preferred surviving “Battle Royale” than geometry, too. But the issue is serious for parents and educators. "This is something that we have to deal with. This isn’t a small story; this is a big story,” says Jon Cohen, director of research at SurveyMonkey, commenting on the classroom revelation.

Fortunately, there are glass half-full results in the survey, too: Half of the teens revealed that “Fortnite” helps them keep up with friends, and half say it helps with teamwork. Another 44 percent say they’ve made a friend online while playing, and 39 percent say they’ve bonded with a sibling. 

Yes, teen girls (47 percent) play as well, though not as often as their brothers (75 percent). And about 22 percent of boys play at least once a day, compared to 9 percent of girls.

As popular as “Fortnite” is, 61 percent of the teens overall say they’ve played, but the percentage is lower compared to the teens who say they use Snapchat (73 percent) and Instagram (74 percent), albeit in a prior survey. 

Still, Cohen calls the number of kids playing "Fortnite" “staggering” and a phenomenon given the game’s recent emergence. 

Adds Steyer: “This is the arms race for kids’ attention, and whether it’s 'Fortnite' or Instagram, the tech industry is winning."

But is this really all that different from generations past with eyes glued to TV screens instead of handheld, portable screens? Actually, Steyer says, yeah.

“The scientific studies about the impact on brain development, etc., between video games or online and social media versus you sitting there and watching 'Hogan’s Heroes’ is a totally different experience,” Steyer says. “And, by the way, most people didn’t spend eight hours in a row just watching 'Gilligan’s Island’ or 'Let’s Make a Deal.’ ” 

So how can parents divert Junior’s attention away from "Fortnite"? One tip is to play the game yourself, something 1 in 5 dads has already done compared to 18 percent of moms. You might end up having a nice bonding experience with your kid while discovering the tricks of the game and just what it is you are up against.

Whether you play or not, set clear limits, which might vary depending on how your kid plays. "Fortnite" has a “playground mode” that allows players  to "respawn” or come back to life; in that mode, set limits by time. The length will vary by family, of course, but something reasonable would be a half-hour to 90 minutes a day, with the higher limit reserved, say, for the weekend. 

Meanwhile, if your kids are engaged in a “Battle Royale,” you might also limit gameplay by the number of “rounds.”

Either way, tell your kids they can’t play after a certain hour of day and don’t let them take a device to bed. In fact, some parents might choose to let their kid play only in a common space of the house.

“It requires active parenting. You just cannot sit there on the couch and ignore this,” Steyer says. “And, by the way, if they don’t follow the rules, take 'Fortnite' (or the phone) away … for two weeks … It’s torture, but too bad. And they do get the message.”

Other options for parents: If you’re worried about your kid talking to strangers, don’t give them the headset they would use for that purpose.

Common Sense also directs parents to settings within “Fortnite” to limit conversations to people whose handles the kids know. You can also turn off voice chat. And if all else fails, impose the parental controls that are on the phone or computer the kid uses to play or that may be part of your Wi-Fi router.

It remains to be seen whether "Fortnite" can sustain its popularity long term, but even if it fades, expect something else to capture your kid’s fancy.

“There will be something after 'Fortnite,' ” Steyer says. “This is the story of kids’ lives today and our lives, and we have to come to terms with that.”

 

December 06, 2018

Sources: USA Today

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Or it.”</p><p>Asked to respond to Mr. Essex, Mr. Godfrey did agree that the egg’s success had been a fluke.</p><p>“But it’s a fluke that caught the world’s attention,” he said. “It’s what you do with that attention that counts.”</p>

    1 February 04, 2019
  • Behind Tech’s Shine, Some Warnings Signs Appear

    Behind Tech’s Shine, Some Warnings Signs Appear

    g over tech.</p><p>China, smartphones, Bitcoin and cloud computing have been among the major drivers of the long tech boom, which in turn has powered the global economy for the last decade. The ingredient common to all of these sectors is computer chips, which form the brains of devices and whose ubiquity means they provide early signals about changes in supply and demand.</p><p>Warnings about a sales slowdown this year have come in recent weeks from big chip suppliers that also include Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Micron Technology and Western Digital. It’s an abrupt reversal, coming on the heels of stellar results in 2018 for the business that gave Silicon Valley its name.</p><p>Last year, manufacturers shipped a staggering 1 trillion chips and other semiconductor devices, 10 percent more than the year before, IC Insights estimates. But 2019 is shaping up to be a much different story, now that several important sources of chip demand appear to be dampening.</p><p>This year, with a similar downgrade, investors largely shrugged it off. Intel shed about 5 percent of its value over a week.</p><p>While acknowledging the parallels to 2000, Gene Munster, research director for Loup Ventures, a venture capital firm, said, “I think it’s different this time.”</p><p>Back then, among the best customers for the established chip firms were start-ups, which had more dreams than revenue. As the start-ups faltered, the chip firms were imperiled. The storm lasted for years.</p><p>“These are all real companies now, with real customers,” Mr. Munster said. “People are willing to look past a few bumpy months.”</p><p>Even if the problems do not linger, they are a reminder that demand is not eternal. That seems to be what happened with smartphones, which use multiple varieties of chips to run software, process data and connect to cellular networks.</p><p>“From all of our research, I don’t see some general consumer malaise,” Mr. Wolf said.</p><p>Yet several other businesses appear to be softening as well, including the market for server systems used by cloud service operators, including Amazon, Microsoft and Google. Sales of high-priced chips for such hardware have driven profits for companies like Intel and Nvidia, but they now say that equipment buyers for data centers have turned cautious.</p><p>Longtime tech industry watchers began picking up trouble signs late last spring in the market for memory chips, an essential component in computers that in decades past prompted trade tensions between the United States and rivals in Japan and South Korea. Makers of a key category called dynamic random-access memory, or DRAM, have suffered product shortages and gluts that whipsawed pricing and heralded changing fortunes for the broader industry.</p><p>During the dot-com bust of 2001, DRAM revenue plummeted 63 percent while total semiconductor revenue fell 31 percent, according to Gartner data.</p><p>But conditions changed dramatically over the years as manufacturers fled from the lack of profits, leaving three major DRAM makers — Samsung, Hynix and Micron. They have been slow to boost production, enabling them to keep their prices high. And they also benefited as memory became more important in smartphones, data center hardware and other products beyond the personal computers that once drove most sales.</p><p>“The markets today are structurally different,” Sanjay Mehrotra, Micron’s chief executive, said in a recent interview.</p><p>Yet market cycles haven’t disappeared entirely. DRAM prices peaked last June and began sliding, prompting Micron and Samsung to issue their recent profit warnings. DRAMeXchange, a Taiwan-based firm that tracks the market, predicts DRAM prices will fall an additional 20 percent in the first quarter.</p><p>Memory chips “behave like onions or steel or any other commodity,” said Jim Handy, a market researcher at Objective Analysis. “If there is an oversupply, prices fall.”</p><p>But Nvidia’s processors also became extremely popular for the mathematical process of mining digital currency, driving a surge in demand that inflated prices and created a shortage of chips. Buyers wound up placing multiple or overly ambitious orders, making it hard for the company to get a handle on conventional demand for its technology.</p><p>For all the turmoil, industry executives and analysts said that business conditions remain a lot healthier than past semiconductor slumps. For one thing, a series of mergers has reduced price competition. Companies like Micron, which routinely lost money in past cycles, are expected to remain solidly profitable even if sales dip.</p><p>“Eventually the storm will pass and these companies — Nvidia, Apple, Samsung — will have a pole position in the next tech growth curve, including A.I., health care, self-driving cars, 5G,” said Mr. Munster, the Loup analyst. “The curve is so exciting, so juicy, so full of opportunity.”</p>

    1 February 04, 2019
  • How to get the best deals on MacBook, iPad and iPhone

    How to get the best deals on MacBook, iPad and iPhone

    ritten, or redistributed. ©2019 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>The secret is to be patient. The new Apple device you have your eye on may not be discounted at the moment, but chances are that one of the major online retailers will cut the price next week or next month.</p><p>Some of the discounting is predictable. For example, Black Friday and the months before the year-end holidays. Other times, it&#x2019;s completely unpredictable. Retailers like Best Buy, Amazon (now an authorized Apple reseller), B&amp;H Photo, and Adorama often discount out of the blue for reasons only they know.</p><p>So, you have to be vigilant and keep tabs on the retail sites that most frequently discount, such as the ones cited above. You can also sign up for &#x201C;deal alerts&#x201D; or check weekly ads but it&apos;s a good idea to be proactive checking the major Apple retailer sites once a week for the specific product you&#x2019;re interested in.</p><p>Among all of Apple&#x2019;s hardware, MacBooks are discounted the most frequently and typically see the deepest price cuts.</p><p>Discounts typically come in two flavors, including sales on recently-announced MacBooks. For example, B&amp;H Photo and Amazon have been consistently discounting the Apple&apos;s newest MacBook, the 2018 MacBook Air, by $100.</p><p>More common are discounts on the previous generation of MacBooks announced a year &#x2013; or more &#x2013; back. It&#x2019;s common for B&amp;H Photo or Adorama to discount 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros released the previous year (e.g., 2017) by $200 to $400. These are still never-before-used MacBooks, but they are a year old.</p><p>Practically speaking, the differences between the newest MacBooks and last year&#x2019;s MacBooks are often small.</p><p>Discounts on iPads are also common and the same rules generally&#xA0;apply: less frequent discounts on recently-announced iPads and more frequent discounts on older models.</p><p>For most people, iPads are for media consumption and light work-related tasks. So, many consumers don&#x2019;t need the latest and greatest high-powered, pricey iPad Pros and can clear the way&#xA0;for good deals.</p><p>The&#xA0;iPad Mini 4 is often discounted from the list price $399, often as much as $50. The&#xA0;svelte, light (0.65 pounds) 7.9-inch iPad comes with 128GB of storage. It&apos;s a bit dated &#x2013; released in late 2015 with an A8 processor &#x2013; but it&apos;s fine for the vast majority of consumers.</p><p>The&#xA0;9.7-inch iPad&#xA0;was released in early 2018 and features a newer A10 Fusion processor. The 32GB model is often discounted by $50 from the regular price of&#xA0;$329. The 128GB model&#xA0;also sees frequent price cuts of $50 or more from the regular price of $429.</p><p>Or if you insist on an iPad Pro, opt for the 2017 10.5-inch model, which is often discounted by $100 or more.</p><p>Carriers and retailers are always pushing iPhone deals but there&#x2019;s almost always a catch&#xA0;and the deal typically requires signing up for&#xA0;a two-year contract.</p><p>For example, Verizon is currently offering $300 off the iPhone XS, Apple&#x2019;s newest phone.&#xA0;The catch is,&#xA0;you&#xA0;must&#xA0;add a new smartphone line and trade in a phone that&#x2019;s on their designated list of trade-ins.&#xA0;You&#x2019;ll see variations on this theme&#xA0;throughout the year&#xA0;at other carriers and retailers.</p><p>Occasionally, you&apos;ll see fleeting oddball deals like the one Apple has been offering directly on the iPhone SE: for a limited time priced at $299&#xA0; for the 128GB model. The catch here is that it&apos;s not new but refurbished.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>

    1 February 03, 2019

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