Skip to main content

Is Fortnite good for kids? Experts definitely have opinions

How to know if your child is ready for video games like Fortnite

blond child playing fortnite
Jennie Book / Shutterstock

If you have kids, chances are you’ve heard of the video game Fortnite. Not only has the game gone viral but so have the songs and dances, thanks to social media. If they aren’t already playing it, your kids are probably begging you to play it while telling you how all of their friends are already playing. Fortnite is one of the most popular games for gamers of all ages, and its lack of blood and gore is attractive to parents. The fact that it’s still a shooting game can be concerning.

Deciding when your child is ready for a game like Fortnite is a complex choice and we’ve gathered expert opinions to help you make an informed decision. There are several factors to take into account and we’ll walk you through each one before you let your child even create an avatar.

Fortnite video game
Pryimak Anastasiia / Shutterstock

What is Fortnite?

Fortnite is a video game that came out in 2017 from developer Epic Games. There are currently three versions. There is an up to four players versus the environment version called Fortnite: Save the World, a multi-player, up to 100-player version called Fortnite Battle Royale, and a fun freedom space version called Fortnite Creative. Creative and Battle Royale are free to play, but Save the World costs parents real-life money. Battle Royale is the most popular version and the one your kiddo most likely wants to play.

In Battle Royale, play in solo (alone), duo (with one other player), or squad mode (a team of four). In a match, up to 100 players fight until there is one winner left standing (think The Hunger Games). Players in a match are in the same mode, and players kill opponents by shooting each other with guns. There’s no blood and players who are killed simply disappear.

In Save the World, the last remaining humans must collaborate to survive zombies in a post-apocalyptic world. Not the best game, but teamwork and how to survive a zombie apocalypse might come in handy one day.

In Creative, players get to have a relaxed and more, well, creative time. Players can create courses, battle arenas, and spawn any item of their choosing from Battle Royale to their personal island. This one doesn’t sound too bad.

You can play one version or another of Fortnite on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, macOS, Windows computers, Android phones, and of course, iOS. You need a Wi-Fi connection to play.

Three kids sitting on the couch on their devices playing a game.
Richard Lewisohn / Getty Images

What ages is Fortnite appropriate for?

Fortnite is rated T for Teen by the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) for violence. Their rating gives a further description of the game and why they rate it for ages 13 and up:

From a third-person perspective, players use guns, swords, and grenades to fight skeleton-like monsters (husks) in ranged and melee-style combat. Players can also defeat enemies by using various traps (e.g., electric, spikes, poisonous gas). Battles are highlighted by frequent gunfire, explosions, and cries of pain. In Battle Royale mode, players compete in “last-man-standing”-style shootouts with other players on an island with diminishing borders.

Frannie Ucciferri, Associate Managing Editor at Common Sense Media, writes “Common Sense doesn’t recommend games with open chat for kids under 13, but with the right controls and parental guidance, this can be a tween-friendly alternative to violent first-person shooters.” She continues, “For some parents, the cartoonish, bloodless style of the action in Fortnite makes the violence less problematic than the aggressive gore in other popular shooter games. But the game’s online chat feature, especially in Battle Royale, could expose younger players to offensive language or mature content from random strangers.”

Two girls sitting next to each other playing Fortnite.
More Than Production / Shutterstock

Is Fortnite good for kids?

There are pros and cons of Fortnite for kids. “There are amazing opportunities for collaboration, communication, problem-solving, perseverance, and other skills that make our kids into the humans we hope they can be,” parenting and child development expert Dr. Deborah Gilboa told TODAY Parents. However, there are also dangers. “Supervise your kids, especially those under 14, while they play this game,” Gilboa advised.

Dr. Randy Kulman is a clinical child psychologist and agrees with the ESRB rating of Teen. He writes for Psychology Today, “I don’t think it is an age-appropriate game because of the nature of the violence. Yes, it is cartoonish, and death in Fortnite can be immediately followed by starting a new game, but the killing is random — if you see any other player, it’s either kill or be killed.”

Unlike the possibilities for collaboration Dr. Gilboa mentions, Dr. Kulman disagrees: “Everyone is your enemy: There are no friends, and you are all competing at the highest level for your survival. It’s not a great way to foster the type of collaboration that our planet and humankind need in the future. Because younger children are still developing their capacities for understanding abstract concepts, others who are different, and hypothetical questions, the messaging of games such as Fortnite is troubling.”

An additional concern to the game’s content is that players interact with each other over voice chat. That means your child could hear any (violent, bullying, homophobic, sexist, sexual) thing a stranger might say. Another danger is your young child could be befriended or groomed by an inappropriate stranger through the game.

A computer monitor displaying the FortNite logo
KateV28 / Shutterstock

Are there parental controls in Fortnite?

Allowing your child access to video games is a personal decision that can be difficult to make, especially for games as popular as Fortnite. Epic Games has implemented parental controls that help make the decision for parents easier, as they can control their “child’s access to social features and purchasing within games,” such as Fortnite. They also allow parents the ability to limit who their child can voice or text chat to while playing, as well as restricting any purchasing abilities. Parents can set limits on which games they want their child to have access to and it will even give you a report on your child’s playtime each week. Enabling some of these parental controls may make the decision to let your child play a bit easier because you can monitor how they play and who they play with.

While kids may wish to start earlier, the experts and professional organizations recommend waiting until 13 years old to let them play. Learning to shoot and kill has become normalized in video games, but it’s not something to take lightly. There are plenty of plenty of other games to play while your kids are still young children. But you can still learn the songs and dances together as a compromise.

Editors' Recommendations

Sarah Prager
Sarah is a writer and mom who lives in Massachusetts. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, National…
When kids believing in Santa come to an end: At what age and why they stop
How parents can keep the magic going — or not
A surprised Santa against a red wall.

Kids believing in Santa is one of the magical times of parenthood and is a special time of childhood. Sadly, there comes a point when they outgrow it. If you grew up believing in Santa, you have happy memories of waiting for Saint Nick and you remember the moment you found out he wasn't real. For some, he drifts away, for others it is a formative moment to discover the big secret.

Guarding the secret until then is stressful, but if you know what age to expect the jig will be up, that may help. Will your kids hear it at school, from an older sibling, a cousin, on TV, or online? Should you safeguard against it or let it happen? We'll go over at what age kids stop believing in Santa, why they stop, and how to handle it.

Read more
Is it OK to lie to your children about Santa Claus? Here’s what experts say
Should you tell your children the truth about old St. Nick?
A surprised Santa against a red wall.

For many parents, part of the magic of Christmas is telling their children the many stories of Santa Claus. The tale of Jolly Old St. Nick is a time-honored tradition that has been around for generations. However, not everyone loves the idea of sharing the story of Santa Claus, only to eventually admit it was a lie told for years "in good fun," which makes them question the need for disappointment and possible hurt feelings down the line.

If you're a new parent or one with young children in the home, you may be debating whether you or your family will be taking part in the idea of Santa Claus, or simply questioning how you feel lying to your kids about Santa Claus.

Read more
Does your child have Asperger’s syndrome? Experts explain how to tell
Here are some common signs of Asperger's in children
Two toddler grls playing with blocks

Parents notice new things about their kids daily, especially when it comes to hitting developmental milestones. As toddlers begin to develop motor skills, practice their social skills on the playground, and expand their vocabulary (hopefully past "mine" and "no") parents may notice some other changes as well and may wonder if those changes are signs of Asperger's in toddlers.

Parents may realize that their child never looks them in the eye when telling a story, or that their toddler has been seemingly fixated on one specific character from a show. If you have started to wonder if these little quirks could mean something more, you aren’t alone. According to Everyday Health, the CDC states that "about 1 in every 68 children has an autism spectrum disorder." If you think that might include your tiny tot, let’s go over some signs of Asperger’s in toddlers that you can look out for.

Read more