A PARTY company has been slammed for offering 48 hour Fortnite “sleepovers” for kids as young as 12.
PlayParties has been blasted by psychologists for fuelling kids’ addictions and cashing in on the controversial game.
The company charges £250 for weekend rental of the online video game.
It provides up to four consoles and controllers, headsets and Fortnite party bags for up to eight kids.
Specialists who treat youngsters hooked on the game claim it is “callous” for firms to profit from the game.
Steve Pope, an addiction psychotherapist, said: “You wouldn’t lock your child away with a bottle of vodka so why would you put them in a room alone with their Xbox?
“Honestly, we are seeing around two or three cases per week of kids who are addicted to video games, especially Fortnite – it’s an epidemic.
“It’s callous of party businesses to encourage this kind of behaviour and parents need to be aware of the risks.”
He added: “It’s the same as dropping your kids off at a party where they’ll drink cider or take drugs.
“The human mind will become addicted to anything it finds pleasurable and children find Fortnite immensely pleasurable”.
It’s callous of party businesses to encourage this kind of behaviour and parents need to be aware of the risks
Steve Pope (addiction psychotherapist)
Behavioural psychologist Lorrine Marer was equally horrified.
She said: “Video games makes youngsters aggressive and stimulates the brain just like chocolate, alcohol and drugs.
“It’s ridiculous to encourage birthday parties of this nature as it will only encourage children who don’t play Fortnite to take it up.
“It also means children will be pressuring their parents to allow them to play a game they may not – and should not – agree with.
“For goodness sake, children should be playing outside with a ball not celebrating their birthday on a console.”
What is Fortnite?
Fortnite is an online video game set in a dystopian world based around a battle for survival.
Fortnite offers two distinct modes: player versus environment, ‘Save the World’ and the more recent player versus player game Battle Royale.
The game starts with 100 players leaping out of a plane on to a small island, fighting each other until no one is left.
Fortnite has proved a massive hit with millions of kids.
The game is free and kids can team up with a friend, a group of friends or compete as a duo or squad.
Matches can last up to 20 minutes.
Though it’s a multiplayer shooter, no graphic violence is depicted.
The now hugely popular game was revealed in 2011 but only released in 2017.
The warfare game has come under fire from experts since it was released in 2017.
They have warned the highly addictive game has seen kids staying up through the night even turning violent when their parents intervene.
In June we told how a girl of nine was in rehab after wetting herself rather than leave the screen.
It’s also been claimed the game is being used by county lines drug dealers to recruit and control children, exploiting its massive popularity among a young audience.
There are also fears kids are at risk from sexual predators because voice and text features allow them to be contacted by other players.
The National Crime Agency has issued a warning over paedophiles grooming children on the game.
Culture Secretary Matt Hancock’s Parliamentary Private Secretary Nigel Huddleston said he was “horrified” to hear stories of children becoming addicted to the game.
He said: “The Government is going to be making it increasingly difficult for children to see inappropriate content.”
A spokesman for PlayParties, which is based in Milton Keynes, said: “We take great care to ensure that we provide the ESRB ratings of all titles when we hire out our equipment.
“As we don’t host the parties ourselves, we have to make it very clear to the organisers, that they need to check that each participant has the appropriate parental permission (if applicable) to play the games.
“If a title is not appropriate for a party, then we simply uninstall it from our setup, so it cannot be played.
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“Fortnite is just one of over 30 titles in our roster, so there are plenty of age appropriate alternatives available for younger children.
“We also offer Lego parties as a complete alternative to video games.”
The Sun Online have repeatedly approached Epic, the North Carolina-based developer of the game, for a comment.
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