This is a letter I wrote to parents of students in my middle school and junior high Bible class. My goal was to have parents more closely examine the games their child is playing and whether or not these games are blessing or harming them.
I want to say first of all what an honor and a joy it is to partner with you in training up these amazing forerunner messengers who I believe will carry the message of Jesus Christ all over the world! Because I am convinced of this and because I love each of them so much, I’d like to share something with you that has been grieving my heart recently and ask you to join me in interceding and contending for breakthrough.
I have noticed significant changes in the behavior of several of my Bible students this year. Some of these behaviors include consistently failing to turn in homework, dishonesty, disobedience, showing disrespect to me and to their peers, speaking out in class, the use of foul language, rude hand gestures and in some cases, blatant hostility toward one another. I believe this is a direct attack from the Enemy against the families of FCA and this work of training and equipping forerunners.
I remember a time when my daughter was 12 and I noticed her behavior change drastically. After much prayer and fasting, the Holy Spirit showed me that the “root” that was causing this “fruit” was a Disney television show that encouraged dishonesty and disrespect, especially toward parents and those in authority. It caused much "tension" between us as we worked through a solution, but once she stopped watching this show, she returned to “herself” and we knew we had done the right thing.
I am asking you to please examine what your children are watching, listening to and what video games they are playing as sometimes these things can produce "bad fruit." I recently counseled with a parent from FCA who has been in a spiritual battle for her son. He had become desperately addicted to the video game Fortnite and when it was taken away, he became extremely angry and depressed. When I was visiting with this mother, she said, “I just wished someone had warned me about the dangers of this game. It nearly destroyed my son.”
Fortnite is a free-to-play online game where up to a hundred players can play at once. Drawing inspiration from the 1999 Japanese novel Battle Royale and The Hunger Games, players must scavenge supplies, build structures and find weapons--the goal of the game is to ELIMINATE OR KILL EACH OTHER UNTIL ONLY ONE PERSON IS LEFT. Even more concerning is the fact that there is also an opportunity for children to connect with strangers in the game, and there is minimal monitoring of who is online and what is being said in the chat.
My 12 year old nephew in Oklahoma was a “straight A” student and leader on the academic team at school. His grades dropped and my kind, thoughtful nephew became irritable, disrespectful and dishonest at times, which is the exact opposite of the young man I know him to be. My sister told me, “It became WAY too important. He was obsessed with this game! ” She also said she wished she had been warned, so after much prayer, I decided to write and ask you to prayerfully research this game and consider whether or not it is causing any behavior changes and whether or not it is blessing or harming your child.
Here are some warning signs that Fortnite or any other video game might be a problem for your child:
1. impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context);
2. increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities;
3. continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.
Here is an online quiz for parents who may think their child has a gaming addiction:
There are many studies available, but here are two articles I found particularly interesting about the psychological aspect and what this game does to the brain.
I'd also like to recommend a book for those who want to educate yourself further--one of the teachers recommended it-- it is called "Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction is Hijacking Our Kids--And How to Break the Trance." by Nicholas Kardaras, Ph.D (The Mid-Continent Library and Johnson County library systems have this book.)
Thank you so much for allowing me to share my heart and concerns with you. I recognize that each family has their own set of boundaries and opinions about what is appropriate for their children. I encourage you to educate yourself about this game and spend time in prayer before making any decision. I simply wanted to provide some resources and ask you to join me in prayer over our students.
While it is not mandatory, I am encouraging students in my Bible classes to participate by fasting or “taking a break from” media and entertainment such as YouTube or video games for a few days, maybe even a “fortnight”, which is 14 days or two weeks.
Again, it is an honor and privilege to join you in training up these world-changers and history-makers!
With love and much HOPE,
Middle School and Junior High Bible Teacher