Has your kid caught the Fortnite bug? Probably, since recent reports suggest that 25% of kids ages 5-15 have played at least once, and tens of millions play daily.
Here are nine things you should know as a parent if your kids have been playing Fortnite.
- It has guns (but it’s not as bad as you might think)
The game’s surface-level premise is a fight to the death between 100 players on an island using randomly-found supplies, materials, and yes, guns. It’s in the same vein as the Hunger Games series, which was popularized a few years ago, but with a new twist, which is...
- Cartoons and fun
While the Hunger Games were dark and dreary, Fortnite is fun, cartoonish, and doesn’t take itself very seriously. There’s no blood, and the in-game violence is more akin to Tom hitting Jerry over the head with a spatula than it is to The Hunger Games or the iconic shooting game Call of Duty.
- It’s free and accessible
Fortnite costs no money upfront and is available on phones, computers, PlayStation, Xbox, and more. This means it’s pretty easy for your kid to get right into it, which is one of the many contributors to its wild success.
- Be warned, it can charge money
Though it’s free to start playing, there are many things in the game which one can only unlock with real money. These include “skins,” which make your kid’s character look different, or silly dances that can be performed. Make sure your child understands that they’re spending real money, and be careful before handing over your credit card.
- Your kid is playing it for a reason: it’s fun
The biggest reason so many kids are playing Fortnite so often is that they think it’s just plain fun. There’s no pied piper pulling the strings; kids are just playing a silly, competitive game with their friends where they can make their character skydive out of a flying school bus and dab.
- It’s collaborative: they get to play with their friends
Players can either queue into matches of 100 by themselves or join with 2-3 friends in a mode known as “squads.” Squad play can promote teamwork and communication skills similar to sports or other coordinated events.
- Random people can join squads with your kids
Long gone are the days of scary internet chat rooms and it is now commonplace for strangers to be on your team in many video games. 99.9% of the time these people pose no threat, but make sure your child knows never to share any personal information.
- Your kid is probably watching it too
There’s a huge number of content creators making videos or streaming gameplay of Fortnite. Usually these creators are kid-friendly and your child may find watching them more entertaining than even playing the game itself. Ask your kid about what they’re watching and check it out for yourself to make sure you’re alright with the content - each one is different.
- Experts have weighed in
The ESRB, Entertainment Software Rating Board, has given Fortnite a “T” rating. "T" stands for "teen" and thus, Fortnite is recommended for kids ages 13 and up. Their guidance is trustworthy, but it's important to make your own judgment call based on whether you think Fortnite is suitable for your child.