The ultimate guide to Fortnite for parents

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If you have kids, it is very likely that you have heard of Fortnite and have been asked time and time again by your child if they can play!

Truth be told, parenting is hard and answering questions like these aren’t always easy…especially if you aren’t a gamer yourself. This guide will help you understand what Fortnite is and how to keep your kids safe when they play. 

What is Fortnite? How do kids play It?

Fortnite is a wildly popular online multiplayer game developed by Epic Games. It features two main game modes: "Save the World”, a traditional solo campaign in the game Fortnite, "Battle Royale", a free-to-play mode where up to 100 players compete to be the last one standing and “Creative” mode. With its vibrant graphics, fast-paced gameplay, and unique building mechanics, Fortnite has captured the hearts of millions of players worldwide, including children and adolescents.

In order to play Fortnite, you must have an Epic Games account. You can sync your account across multiple devices to make playing from any device easy and to access your in-game currency from wherever you play.

In Fortnite's Battle Royale mode, players skydive onto an island and scavenge for weapons, resources, and items while battling opponents. The last player or team standing wins the game. You can play Fortnite Battle Royale as a solo, duo, trio or on a team of 4. Additionally, you can choose to play with other players you know as a team or get randomly matched together with others. With its cartoonish art style and lighthearted tone, Fortnite appeals to a wide audience and encourages social interaction among players of all ages. Kids can play Fortnite on various gaming platforms, including PC, gaming consoles (such as PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch), and mobile devices (iOS and Android). 

In Fortnite’s Save The World mode, every player plays individually. Instead of competing against others to be the last man standing in Battle Royale, players in Save the World are survivors of an apocalyptic storm where the remaining players must band together to defeat zombie-like creatures. 

Teenage boy playing a game

What are the Risks with Fortnite? Is it safe?

While Fortnite offers a thrilling and engaging gaming experience, it's essential for parents to be aware of potential risks associated with the game. These risks may include exposure to violence, online interactions with strangers, in-game purchases, and the potential for addiction. Let’s look closer at each one of these:

  1. Exposure to Violence: While many Fortnite gamers describe the violence as “cartoonish”, Fortnite is considered a violent game. You won’t see blood and guts spilling out on the screen with each kill, however the content itself is violent which might be concerning to you. 
  1. Online interactions with strangers: While most gaming platforms now offer some form of gaming communication, Fortnite may feel a bit different due to the nature of Battle Royale. Since gamers can be randomly paired up with other Fortnite gamers, your child never knows who they will be paired with, leaving them open to the risk of interacting with strangers. In a game that can be team based, it is important for the players to speak to one another. When entering a game as a solo looking to be paired with a team, interaction with a stranger becomes a given, not a possibility.
  1. Cyberbullying and Harassment: If you have ever listened to a Fortnite chat, you know that it can get ugly, fast. If you haven’t, then it is important you prepare yourself for what your child will experience. Many Fortnite players spend V-bucks, the in-game currency on items for the game. Gamers who wear “regular” clothes in the game instead of custom clothing, tend to get made fun of or cyberbullied by other players. Additionally, team mates may get cyberbullied or harassed when they don’t perform for their team. Hateful and hurtful comments come out all too easily in Fortnite making it a negative experience for many. 
  1. In-game purchases and scams: If there is one thing that happens too often to Fortnite gamers, it is scams. There are so many scams floating around the internet promising gamers free V-bucks. Unfortunately, kids and teens fall for these scams too often hoping that free V-bucks will arrive in their accounts. Fortnite gamers end up losing their accounts, all their digital currency and gaming assets. This is a devastating blow to Fortnite players. It’s important to remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it likely is. V-bucks are never offered for free as tempting as it may sound. 
  1. Hacking and Malware: While you may only think you need to be worried about scammers, you need to be on the lookout for hackers as well. Since Fortnite is played online, there's a risk of encountering hackers and malware. Hackers may exploit vulnerabilities in the game to gain unfair advantages or steal personal information from players. Additionally, malicious actors may create fake Fortnite websites or apps to distribute malware, posing a risk to unsuspecting teens who download them.
  1. Lurking Predators: Online multiplayer games like Fortnite provide a platform for predators to prey on unsuspecting kids and teenagers. While your child is going online for a fun game of Fortnite, predators know that Fortnite is like a playground for them to lurk in. Predators may use the game's chat features to groom and manipulate young players. It's essential for parents to educate their teens about online safety, including the importance of not sharing personal information with strangers and being cautious when interacting with other players online. Grooming begins with complements and a positive connection. While this can at times be challenging to find in a game like Fortnite, ensure that your child is safe with who they talk to and how much they share with people they meet in the game. 
  1. Addiction: Fortnite's highly immersive and competitive gameplay can lead to addiction in some kids and teens. The game's reward system, constant updates, and social aspects can make it difficult for kids and teens to moderate their gaming habits. Excessive gaming can lead to neglect of schoolwork, lack of sleep, and withdrawal from real-life social interactions. 

While Fortnite itself is not inherently unsafe, parents should consider monitoring their child's gaming habits to ensure they are playing responsibly and within appropriate limits.

What is the appropriate age for kids to play Fortnite?

Fortnite is rated "T" for Teen by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) due to its cartoonish violence and online interactions. While there is no specific age requirement to play Fortnite, parents should consider their child's maturity level and ability to handle the game's content and online interactions responsibly. Some parents may choose to wait until their child is a teenager or older before allowing them to play Fortnite, while others may feel comfortable allowing younger children to play under supervision. Fortnite really can be a fun, engaging game for your child to play if you take the proper precautions to monitor their play. Whether or not your child is the right age to play Fortnite is largely a personal decision, and, armed with the right information, it is one that you and your family can make together.

10 tips to keep your kids safe on fortnite

  1. Set up Parental Controls on your child’s Fortnite account: Utilize parental control features available on gaming consoles, mobile devices, and gaming platforms to restrict access to age-inappropriate content, manage in-game purchases, and monitor your child's gaming activity.
  1. Educate Your Child: Teach your child about online safety practices, including not sharing personal information, being cautious when interacting with strangers, and reporting inappropriate behavior or content within the game. Ensure they know that anyone who promises them free V-bucks is up to no good.
  1. Create a tech contract: When it comes to tech, the do’s and don’ts should be very clear! Creating a tech contract is a great way to give your children freedom with their gaming while also holding them accountable. Each tech contract is unique to the person signing it. For a Fortnite gamer, there should be clear expectations about time played, in-game communication, what to do when something is not right, how to manage v-bucks, spot checks and consequences for not following the rules. Create this contract with your child to ensure that everything in it is attainable.
  1. Set Time Limits: Establish clear guidelines for how much time your child can spend playing Fortnite each day and encourage them to take breaks from screen time to engage in other activities. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that children over the age of 6 should have no more than 60 minutes of video game time on school days and 2 hours on non-school days. While each family sets their own guidelines, it can be helpful to keep these guidelines in mind as a checkpoint. The easiest way to combat excessive gaming is to set time limits or battle limits, whichever you choose. You can tell your child they get three battles, win or lose, and that’s it. Or you can simply set a timer for a fixed amount of time- say, an hour- and then when the time is up, pull the plug.
  1. Encourage Positive Behavior: Emphasize the importance of sportsmanship, teamwork, and respect for others while playing Fortnite. Discourage negative behavior such as harassment, bullying, or cheating. Discuss with them appropriate language to use with others while gaming and how to respond to others when the communication becomes toxic. 
  1. Stay Informed: Stay up-to-date on the latest news, updates, and developments in Fortnite to understand the game's features, safety measures, and community guidelines. Remain vigilant to be aware of Fortnite scams and tactics predators use to reach children on Fortnite. 
  1. Play Together: We’ve said it before and we will say it again! Engage with your child by playing Fortnite together or observing their gameplay. This allows you to better understand the game's content, mechanics, and online interactions and it may benefit your relationship with your child!
  1. Monitor or Disable the Chat function: Regularly check your child's in-game chat messages and friend requests to ensure they are not communicating with strangers or engaging in inappropriate conversations. Your child should know that you will be checking in once in a while in order to keep them safe. If you are uncomfortable with them chatting, disable the chat feature all together in the Fortnite settings.
  1. Watch for the signs: Your child may or may not feel comfortable coming to you when something is wrong. Their intentions may be good, but it can be scary to ask for help (I’m sure we’ve all been there at one point or another!) Watch for signs of cyberbullying and/or gaming addiction. If your child is spending more time than usual gaming hide their screen from you when you walk into a room, have become less social, their mood has drastically changed or they have become anxious or stressed when a message comes in, this could be cause for alarm. 
  1. Watch out for the in-game spending: Fortnite is a game that relies heavily on the purchases made. From Battle Passes to custom items, there is a lot to buy. Set ground rules for how much, if any, your child can spend on V-bucks. Remind them that V-bucks are a real currency and to avoid over spending. Pro tip: Don’t connect your credit card. Instead, your children should use v-bucks gift cards to make their purchases. This will help protect their virtual identity and yours!

By implementing these tips, you can help ensure that your child has a safe and positive experience while playing Fortnite. In conclusion, Fortnite offers an exciting and immersive gaming experience that has captivated millions of players worldwide, including children and adolescents. While the game provides opportunities for creativity, social interaction, and competitive gameplay, it's important for parents to be aware of the potential risks associated with Fortnite and to take proactive steps to ensure their child's safety. By setting clear boundaries, monitoring your child's gaming activity, and fostering open communication about online safety, you can help your child navigate the virtual world of Fortnite responsibly and enjoyably. With the right guidance and supervision, Fortnite can be a fun and rewarding gaming experience for kids to enjoy.

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