Is Fortnite Safe for Kids?
JAN 18, 2024
Is Fortnite Safe for Kids?
Since its launch in late 2017, the video game Fortnite has taken the world by storm. Because of its rapid rise to fame, parents may be left bewildered and uninformed on the ins and outs of their child’s favorite pastime.
More than a few parents are wondering: “Is Fortnite appropriate for kids?”
The short answer: with proper parental controls and precautions, Fortnite can be a safe experience for kids who are ready for gaming.
The full answer involves a lot more detail. Let’s dig in.
What is Fortnite?
Fortnite is an online battle royale shooter game similar in concept to the Hunger Games, where players connect online and face off in a fight to the death until the last man is standing. Its novel battle royale format and multiplayer capabilities made it unique among other shooter games. It can be purchased and downloaded from the Epic Games store.
The game mode allows for voice chat among players. This ability to connect people around the world makes its game mode unique.
Users may be drawn to Fortnite for its large array of players — 100 players are permitted to enter into a round at a time.
Playing the game is possible on several platforms, including mobile devices, Nintendo Switch, Xbox, PlayStation, PC, and Mac.
Is Fortnite for Kids?
Fortnite may be wildly popular among kids and teenagers, but there aren’t currently statistics that inform exactly how old average Fortnite players are.
In a 2018 study conducted among parents of children 8 – 17 years old, 45% reported that their children played Fortnite.
While other reports indicate that over 60% of its users are aged 18-24, it’s likely that a large portion of players are younger than that age and simply lie to get access to the game. Certainly, anecdotal evidence among players and parents testifies that many players are young enough not to have mature voices.
Of course, knowing that children may be lying about their actual age, the important question remains: is Fortnite safe for kids?
Undoubtedly, the nature of a fight-to-the-death battle royale is a violent concept and may not be suitable for children.
However, violence in Fortnite is relatively mild, even cartoonish — no blood or gore is shown, and downed enemies simply disappear once they’ve been killed. Add this to the goofy dances and emotes available to players and some parents may even consider Fortnite to be light-hearted.
The game is rated “T” for teens, and is best played by kids 13 and up.
Is Fortnite safe for kids if the chat is muted?
Fortnite allows for voice chat among players, which can connect our children with both friends and predators.
However, parents can disable chat functions to exclude strangers and include only friends. Parental controls can also limit contact, text or voice chat, with any other players.
The effect of violent video games on young minds
Many parents wonder if Fortnite is bad for kids because of its violent nature. It is a first-person shooter game, so the sound of shouting and gunfire that echo through your house while your child plays may be alarming as a parent.
The jury is still out on whether playing violent first-person shooter games correlates to real-life acts of violence and aggression. Some studies have shown a slight to moderate correlation between consuming violent media and exhibiting aggression. Many other studies negate this connection.
In making their decision about whether they’ll allow their child to play Fortnite, parents may consider video gaming addiction as a possible side effect.
Possible indications of video gaming becoming compulsive include withdrawal symptoms like anxiety and irritability when the games are taken away, a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, and using video gaming as a coping mechanism for difficult emotions and situations.
It’s important to note that you are the parent and know your child. If you find that playing Fortnite has made your child more aggressive and less empathetic, consider sitting down and discussing it as a family.
The benefits of video games
While there are always risks associated with gaming in excess, playing video games may also positively impact developing minds. It’s fair to ask if Fortnite is good for kids.
A study links positive cooperative play in a violent multiplayer video game with prosocial behavior or behavior that involves self-sacrifice for the benefit of others. This prosocial behavior was linked to increased satisfaction of psychological needs during gameplay.
Teamwork among peers is a benefit of online multiplayer games, especially when friends can unite to achieve a common goal. This facet of online gaming has even been associated with higher friendship quality.
Which is safer for kids, Fortnite or Apex Legends?
Apex Legends is a battle royale game that, unlike Fortnite, requires the formation of teams to win. Teams of two or three players will fight against the other 20 or 30 teams during gameplay to win.
Apex Legends is considered by many to be more violent than Fortnite; it includes vivid depictions of gore, including blood spatters and stabbing.
Because of its interactive gameplay, Apex Legends requires interaction and teamwork with other people, so disabling the chat feature to exclude strangers is not an option.
Those two features alone make Apex Legends more concerning than Fortnite.
Epic Games Controversy Over Child Privacy
Epic Games, Fortnite’s parent company, is no stranger to controversy. One of the largest lawsuits in the history of the video gaming industry involved Epic Games and was filed by the Federal Trade Commission.
In 2022, Epic Games was forced to pay a fine of $275 million to the FTC. This is almost pocket change to such a large corporation but still the largest FTC administrative settlement to date. The lawsuit was over Epic Games’ neglect of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) in their blatant collection of children’s data without parental knowledge or consent.
Although Epic Games states that children under 13 are not eligible to play Fortnite, their cartoonish animations and targeted ads indicate that they are not only aware that children are playing, but that they are specifically catering their visuals and advertisements to a younger audience.
Furthermore, in a recent lawsuit in Canada, Epic Games paid out $2.7 million to parents of players for their use of random “loot boxes” in play. These loot boxes are acquired only by spending real money on the game, and while the game tantalizes players with the possibility of a big win, these loot boxes can also contain worthless and disappointing prizes.
With such a young audience, it seems that Epic Games was knowingly baiting young children to spend their parents’ money on potentially useless items.
A spokesperson for Epic Games even stated, “Players should know upfront what they are paying for when they make in-game purchases.”
While the company has since attempted to clean up its act by removing loot boxes, it’s clear that Epic Games’s intentions have not always been pure, and that they are aware of the age and susceptibility of their audience.
Instagram and Fortnite Porn
Fortnite itself does not promote promiscuity but some of the outfits, or skins, that users can equip their avatars with can be revealing. Some of the skins available for female avatars show them in tightly clad and revealing clothing. While some parents may feel this is not suitable for young children, there is no explicit nudity on these skins.
But a surprising and unfortunate facet of the rise in Fortnite’s popularity is its association with pornography, specifically on Instagram.
Fortnite lovers will search the internet for innocent content of their favorite game, which may include live streams of gameplay, funny memes, and commentary on the game.
One of the primary places to search is Instagram, where users can easily search for a specific tag and find what they’re looking for. In this case, a simple “#Fortnite” search will yield hundreds of thousands of Fortnite-related photos and videos.
Such a search also reveals a dark underbelly of pornography on Instagram. Accounts dedicated to posting and sharing pornography or links to sexually explicit sites use tags of common internet buzzwords like “#love,” “#photography,” and “#instagram,” on their posts. Such a practice is not uncommon and leads to more engagement on posts.
Unfortunately, another common internet buzzword is “#fortnite,” a term that, despite its popularity among a young audience, is used by pornographic accounts to increase engagement.
The use of the “#Fortnite” tag may have nothing to do with the pornographic post itself. But the use of the tag will draw more users to a post, and ultimately, will result in more engagement for the pornographic post.
It’s important to be aware that the Fortnite audience is extremely large and extremely young, but even this doesn’t stop advertisers from getting all that they can from this demographic.
Is LEGO Fortnite Safe for Kids?
On December 7, 2023, Epic Games and LEGO released a new variation of Fortnite, this one specifically catered toward their younger audience.
LEGO Fortnite promises to cater to and protect children during gameplay. LEGO Fortnite’s gameplay differs from Fortnite in its lack of violence against teammates, but rather against virtual creatures like wolves and spiders. This new gameplay requires teamwork in building up a community of players.
LEGO Fortnite looks and plays quite similarly to Minecraft: players collect resources to build structures and tools which allow them to mine for precious metals and gems that can be used to make more structures and tools.
Like Minecraft, LEGO Fortnite allows for the exploration of a procedurally generated world full of creatures, both peaceful and hostile. Players can work together to protect themselves from dangerous creatures and build their online community.
LEGO and Epic Games have taken steps to ensure that LEGO Fortnite is safe for kids. A parent’s guide offers helpful information on the ins and outs of the game, and how parents can keep their kids safe while gaming.
LEGO Fortnite has yet to raise red flags for kids, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely risk-free. You and your kids can take the opportunity to research, and perhaps even play, as a family.
What Can Parents Do?
A game like Fortnite can seem overwhelming to learn about and protect children from. However, there are ways that parents can set limits on problematic aspects of the game.
There’s no one way to make Fortnite safe, especially since preferences will change based on the family. But public chat functions with strangers can be completely disabled and time and purchase limits can be set through parental controls.
Island Age Ratings
Luckily for many parents, Fortnite recently released a new feature that sets controls on gameplay automatically. Age-rated islands allow young children to play only on islands that limit age-inappropriate features, such as revealing avatar outfits and violent gameplay.
Age-inappropriate islands can be disabled by parents through an Epic Games account.
It can be challenging to stay caught up on all the new trends and games that our kids are interested in. As a parent, it can be difficult to know exactly which of these novelties to allow into the home, and which to keep out, especially when every other parent seems to allow them.
No parent has all the answers but trying to stay in-the-know and protect your children from the challenges of our technological world makes all the difference.
If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of introducing your child to a specific game or device, follow that instinct. Kids deserve a tailored introduction to technology and many are ready for features like calling and texting before they’re ready for a device that gives them an app store packed with games or full access to the internet.
With all of the technology currently available to kids, a kid-safe option can be incredibly helpful in muting out some of the noise of the internet. A phone like Gabb Phone 3 Pro is a flexible phone that allows for easy communication between friends and family, while also keeping kids safe from the dangers of social media and technology addiction.
What do you think? Have you seen benefits or drawbacks to allowing your kids to play games like Fortnite? What has helped keep your kids safely connected? Comment below!