Photo Credit: Whelsko via Flickr
"Fortnite" Screenshot

The Nazareth Juvenile Court on Wednesday ordered the compulsive hospitalization of a 14-year-old boy for psychiatric examination, for anti-social behavior stemming from his addiction to the game “Fortnight.”

“Fortnite” is an online video game first released in 2017. It is available as separate software packages that include “Fortnite: Save the World,” a cooperative shooter-survival game for up to four players to fight off zombie-like creatures; “Fortnite Battle Royale,” a game where up to 100 players fight online to be the last person standing; and “Fortnite: Creative,” where players are given complete freedom to create worlds and battle arenas.

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A social worker from the Department for Social Services in Afula explained at the hearing before Judge Ilanit Imber that the boy was regularly absent from school. “After a home visit I made a week ago, I was concluded that the boy was always on the computer, nights and days. His mother reported severe outbursts of anger and violence directed at her when there was no computer around.”

The social worker’s testimony indicated that the boy had been asked to consent to being examined by a psychiatrist, but he refused. “There was an emergency referral to the emergency room, but the boy refused to go. I explained to the boy that it would be done either with his consent or by an emergency order,” the social worker testified.

The boy also participated in the discussion and said: “I understand that everyone is worried that I don’t go to school. I play a lot of ‘Fortnight.'”

The boy’s court-appointed guardian described her client as “a cute and mature child who understands that he needs help. I spoke with him about the need for hospitalization and he said he understood and agreed to go. He wants a new start because he realizes he has problems.”

Judge Imber approved the request of the Department for Social Services and issued a hospitalization order for a week for observation.

“I was impressed by an intelligent minor who is aware of his situation, and despite the difficulty of leaving his home and despite his preference to stay home, he understands that he must undergo a change,” the judge wrote.

The judge wrote that the mother of the minor also supported the move and that “there is an immediate need to examine his mental state in the light of tantrums and suicidal threats while holding a knife.”

The judge added that “it appears that the ‘Fortnight’ computer game runs the life of the child in an addictive manner and it is not suited for his age. After I became convinced that there was no alternative in the community and that all possible procedures of mental health had been exhausted, I agreed to the request in order to prevent another danger to the health of the minor and for fear of further deterioration.”

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