Is Fortnite good for kids? Your kids may be begging you to play and telling you yes because all of their friends are already playing. Fortnite is one of the most popular games for kids, especially because its lack of blood and gore is attractive to parents, but it is still being a first-person shooter game.
Deciding when your child is ready for a game like Fortnite is a complex choice and we’ve gathered expert information below to help you make an informed decision. There are several factors to take into account and we’ll walk you through each one.
Fortnite is a video game from the developer Epic Games with three versions. There is a solo play version called Save the World, a multi-player version called Battle Royale, and a hang-out space called Party Royale. They are all free to play. Battle Royale is the most popular version and if your child is asking to play Fortnite, that is probably the one he or she is asking about.
In Battle Royale, you can play in solo (alone), duo (with one other player), or squad mode (a team of four). In a match, which takes around 20 minutes, up to 100 players fight until there is one winner left standing. All players in a match are playing in the same mode, so either teams of four are playing against each other, pairs are playing against each other, or everyone is solo. The players kill each other by shooting each other with guns, but there is no blood, and players who are killed simply disappear. You can also use playground mode to get to understand the game without going into a match or fighting.
In Save the World, the last remaining humans must collaborate to survive zombies in a post-apocalyptic world. In Party Royale, there is no killing; you just hang out on a peaceful island.
You can play Fortnite on PlayStation, Xbox, Switch, Mac and Windows computers, and Android phones. You cannot play it on iPhones. You need a wifi connection to play.
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 the game 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.”
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 sees many children younger than teen ages in his practice who play it, 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.”
A concern in addition to the game’s content is that players interact with each other over chat and voice. That means your child can talk to any stranger and hear any harmful (violent, bullying, homophobic, sexist, sexual, cursing) thing they might say or become befriended or groomed by them long-term through the game.
While kids may be wishing to start earlier, the experts and professional organizations recommend waiting until 13 years old to let them get started. Learning to shoot and kill has become normalized but it’s not something to take lightly. There are plenty of other games to learn while your kids are still young children.
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