People are freaking out about Fortnite, the sandbox survival game that every child in the western world is playing.
You jump online, parachute off a flying bus onto a post-apocalyptic island, grab some guns and kill everyone you can before a death storm gets you.
There have been some great headlines recently '9-year-old girl sent to rehab for Fortniteaddiction', 'Mother of two sons 'addicted' to Fortnite has a warning for other parents'. But is it really that bad?
One thing's for sure this isn't the first time parents have freaked out over a fad. Pinball was illegal in New York until 1976. Some of you may remember the VHS video nasties panic in the 80s.
In the 70s people lost their minds over the sitcom Three's Company because it featured unmarried men and woman flatting together. My granddad used to yell at my mum to 'stop reading those damn novels, they'll rot your brain'. These freak-outs seem quaint now. Fortnite will too one day.
So to even the balance on Fortnite panic and maybe save you future embarrassment. Here are five positive things about the game to stop parents worrying.
1. It's a game of strategy, creativity and high skill. To win you need a plan. Searching for resources while being aware of enemies, rapidly building forts when attacked. A recent Princeton Neuroscience Institute report suggested these types of games can be good for the brain. Surely Fortnite is better than my childhood entertainment.
I would get home from school, butter up 10 white death sandwiches, zone out and watch what ever was on TV till bed time. Kids playing the game might be on the couch but they are thinking. They are engaged. This is far from passive entertainment. Your game playing kids probably have better hand eye co ordination and rapid decision-making skills than you do.
2. Back in the day kids would sneak out late at night to meet their friends in parks. Eleven year olds smoking, drinking and defacing seesaws while the local creep watched from the bushes.
You had no idea where they were or what they were doing. Nowadays they meet up online in the Fortnite world. They're staying home. Chatting away as they work together to solve problems and win the game.
Any creeps they may encounter are safely on the other side of the world.
3. When I was a child boys didn't dance. It was too humiliating. In Fortnite your avatar can perform before and during the game. These dances are not only amusing but difficult to do for real.
Every where you go now you'll see kids acting out those dances. Whilst dabbing was and is so humiliating kids should be severely punished for it. Real life displays of emotions - emotes - are complex and funny. Well for now anyway. To be fair they will be so annoying in a few days they should probably be banned.
4. Fortnite is a test of your parenthood. If your kids are playing it so much you are worrying about them. Stop them from playing it so much.
That's what parents are there to do. Tell them to turn it off. If they don't do it switch it off yourself. If they switch it back on smash their PC or console with a pick axe Fortnite- style.
I'm sure there were caveman kids who got addicted to throwing rocks at trees. Bad cave parents jut let them do it. Good cave parents beat them with sabre-toothed tiger teeth until they stopped and got back to their mammoth hunting practice.
5. If Fortnite freaks you out, try playing it. It's really fun. Plus no one can tell me to get off because I own the console, TV and house. I pay the power.
If I want to stay up all night and play games I can. If I want to grab the controller and take over anytime I want I can. If I want to spend my Sunday afternoon forming squads with my kid's 8 year old friends great. At least it keeps me off the streets.
People are freaking out about the game. It will pass. We will all be freaking out about something else soon. In the meantime, there are plenty of positives. Turns out dropping onto an island to kill everyone you see isn't the worst way your kids could be spending their time.
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission.