Harry: So­cial me­dia ‘as ad­dic­tive as drugs’

...and prince says so­cial me­dia more ad­dic­tive than drugs or al­co­hol

Daily Mail - - Front Page - By Re­becca English Royal Cor­re­spon­dent

PRINCE Harry yes­ter­day sug­gested the ‘ir­re­spon­si­ble’ com­puter game Fort­nite should be banned.

Speak­ing at a meet­ing on youth men­tal health is­sues, the fa­ther-to-be also claimed so­cial me­dia was more ad­dic­tive than drugs or al­co­hol.

And he said par­ents were at a loss as to how to han­dle the chal­lenges of dig­i­tal me­dia. ‘ A game like Fort­nite for in­stance may not be so good for chil­dren,’ he said.

‘Par­ents have got their hands up – they don’t know what to do about it.

‘It’s like wait­ing for the dam­age to be done and kids turn­ing up on your doorsteps and fam­i­lies be­ing bro­ken. Fort­nite shouldn’t be al­lowed. Where is the ben­e­fit in hav­ing that game in your house­hold?

‘It’s cre­ated to ad­dict – an ad­dic­tion to keep you in front of a com­puter for as long as pos­si­ble. It’s so ir­re­spon­si­ble.

‘Grow­ing up in to­day’s world, so­cial me­dia is more ad­dic­tive than drugs and al­co­hol. Yet it’s more dan­ger­ous be­cause it’s nor­malised and there are no re­stric­tions to it. We are in a mind-al­ter­ing time.’

Fort­nite, which launched in 2017, is said to have 250mil­lion reg­is­tered play­ers, in­clud­ing Eng­land foot­ball stars Harry Kane and Dele Alli. It is free but of­fers paid-for ex­tras – earning an es­ti­mated £1.8bil­lion for its US de­vel­oper Epic Games last year.

Al­though in­tended for play­ers aged 12 and older, many younger chil­dren have be­come ad­dicted.

Fort­nite’s pop­u­lar Bat­tle Royale ver­sion sees 100 play­ers pit­ted against each other, cre­at­ing su­per­hero avatars for a fight to the death us­ing cross­bows, ri­fles and even grenade launch­ers.

Harry’s com­ments about Fort­nite and so­cial me­dia came a day after he and his wife, the Duchess of Sus­sex, launched their own In­sta­gram site which has gath­ered more than two mil­lion fol­low­ers in 24 hours. Kens­ing­ton Palace had a pho­tog­ra­pher and a so­cial me­dia co-or­di­na­tor at yes­ter­day’s event to cre­ate on­line con­tent.

Aides re­jected any sug­ges­tion of hypocrisy, say­ing that while the prince had no re­grets about at­tack­ing so­cial me­dia, he also ac­knowl­edged that it could be a force for good and bring peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties to­gether when it wasn’t be­ing abused.

Kens­ing­ton Palace has been forced to take ac­tion against vile slurs be­ing posted by trolls about the Duchesses of Sus­sex and Cam­bridge on its so­cial me­dia sites.

Speak­ing at the South Eal­ing YMCA in west Lon­don, Harry said: ‘We are in an ex­cit­ing time be­cause ev­ery­body in this room has an op­por­tu­nity to ac­tu­ally make a real dif­fer­ence so that young peo­ple com­ing through are less con­nected to their phones.

‘They can be as con­nected as they want to be but they have to have hu­man con­nec­tion as well.

‘With­out that hu­man con­nec­tion when you do have a prob­lem you have nowhere to go and the only place you might go is on­line and you prob­a­bly get­ting bul­lied.’

The prince un­ex­pect­edly took part in a bal­let class for four- to six-year-olds in an ac­tiv­ity room at the YMCA and watched as the chil­dren per­formed two dances.

He told the group that they all de­served gold stars.

He also greeted three-month-old Naz Hamed whose proud mother Maria said: ‘I think he has ba­bies on his mind’ – re­fer­ring to the fact that Harry and wife Meghan are soon to be­come par­ents.

Money-spin­ner: A scene from the game Fort­nite Prince of poise: Harry takes to the floor and meets young dancers and their fam­i­lies

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