Fortnite: What parents need to know

Fortnite - the ‘free’ to play video game that took the world by storm. With a staggering 350 million estimated registered users, and players spending more than 3.3 billion hours in-game during the month of April 2020 (thanks, COVID), we’ve created an overview of what parents need to know about this phenomenon.

Written by Cyber Expert:

Taryn Wren

ICT Teacher

Fortnite is a video game that can be played on mobile devices, PlayStation, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. The game can be played in a number of different modes but if your child is talking about Fortnite, chances are they are referring to the game's famously popular ‘free’ to play Battle Royale. So… what do parents NEED to know about Fortnite?

How does it work?

Battle Royale is characterised by short play sessions in which players can play solo, duo or in a team. Players are dropped into an interactive map where they compete against up to 100 other players to be the last one(s) standing. The plot of the game is not dissimilar to The Hunger Games in that players need to collect weapons, build shelter, and try to avoid the environmental challenges that the map throws at them.

Is there violence and gore?

While the object of the game is to kill opponents, the graphics are cartoonish and visuals of blood and gore are minimal. 

Is the game really 'free'?

Whilst the game is free to download and play, there are plenty of opportunities for in-game purchases. Fortnite encourages players to purchase items such as skins (outfits) for their avatar (gaming character). This can serve as a point of contention for younger players, where those who are not allowed to spend money in game can be ridiculed. Players can earn in-game currency BUT to keep up with those who are allowed to make in-game purchases, the time commitment and level of skill required is significant.

Can kids communicate with other players?

Yes - if they choose to do so. The game can be played in solo, duo, trio or squad (four players) mode. Players can only communicate with the people in their team. Players can select their team members by inviting friends to play. Alternatively, they can join a randomly allocated team of strangers.

How long does a game last?

A Fortnite game lasts for approximately 20 minutes but players can be killed and eliminated from the game earlier.

How can I make Fortnite safer for my child?

01.
Give boundaries for their ‘Friend’ list

Talk to your child about who they are/aren’t allowed to game with. It is recommended that children under the age of 14 only be allowed to play solo or in teams with people they know in person (i.e. not randomly match with strangers). Manage friend requests with the in-platform parental controls.

02.
Don't allow unsupervised play

Avoid allowing younger children to play in their bedroom or other areas that do not permit easy parental supervision. For visibility over what communication is taking place in the game, avoid allowing young children to use a headset for in-game communication.

03.
Make content and respect a talking point

Give your child some guidance around how they should treat and talk to others in the game. Reassure them that they can always come and talk to you if someone makes them feel uncomfortable, or says something to upset them. Manage adult content and chat with the in-platform parental controls.

04.
Discuss the importance of privacy

Talk to your child about the importance of protecting their password, and do not connect your credit card details to your child's game account. Manage privacy settings with the in-platform parental controls.

05.
Manage screen-time

Set boundaries around when your child is allowed to play.

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