If you’ve overheard your kid talking with their friends about “the quickest way to do 90’s” or getting “one pumped,” chances are they’re into “Fortnite,” one of the hottest video games of the moment. Whether your child is already deep into the game or just now asking to play, it’s a good time to pause and ask: is “Fortnite” for kids? Here are some things to consider when deciding if “Fortnite” is appropriate for your child.
There are actually several versions of “Fortnite,” but the one your child is most likely referring to is “Fortnite: Battle Royale,” a popular video game available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows, and Mac. It incorporates the creative building elements from sandbox games (“Minecraft,” “The Sims”) with the action-packed style of third-person shooter games (“Tomb Raider,” “Grand Theft Auto”).
In “Fortnite,” the playing field is the game map, and the goal is to kill the other players and remain the last one standing. To stay alive, players collect weapons and build safe structures. In addition to being hunted by other gamers, players must avoid The Storm, a computer-generated force that damages all players outside of a safe zone.
The Entertainment Software Rating Board rates “Fortnite” as suitable for teens, and Common Sense Media recommends it for ages 13+. The primary reason these rating bodies cite for their age recommendation is the open chat feature, which may expose your children to risks like online predators. If parents block this function using parental controls, the game can be relatively safe for tweens as well.
There is no profanity or crude language in the game itself. However, because of the open chat feature, kids may be exposed to inappropriate language from other players. If you want to avoid this, you can use parental controls to filter inappropriate language or turn off chat altogether. Show your child how to block, mute, and report other players — even in voice chats.
There is no sex and nudity in “Fortnite.”
Violence is a central focus of “Fortnite.” The main goal is to amass weapons and kill other players. However, this violence is tempered by its cartoonish and bloodless nature. When players are defeated, they simply vanish from the screen.
If you do allow your child to play “Fortnite” (or any other violent video game), consider talking to them about the content and encouraging them to think critically about it.
“Fortnite” uses what’s known as a freemium model. The game is free to download and play, but users can spend real money for cosmetic add-ons like special outfits for their characters (also known as skins). To prevent any unexpected surprises on your bank statement, it’s a good idea to use parental controls to require a pin for in-app purchases.
The parental controls on “Fortnite” can be used to turn off voice and text chat, filter mature language, hide your child’s in-game name, and block in-app purchases.
You can also set privacy settings that control who can enter your child’s online friend group — we recommend the “Private” setting, which means no one can enter your child’s group without being invited. Talk to your child about the importance of only playing with people they know in real life, especially if they’re allowed to use the open chat feature.
You can also view reports to keep an eye on how much time your child is playing. Here are step-by-step instructions for setting up parental controls in “Fortnite.”
It depends on your child's maturity level and their ability to follow content rules and restrictions. As with any new content your child wants to engage with, it's essential for parents to take a proactive approach in understanding the game. Preview "Fortnite" yourself to determine if it’s appropriate for your child. It's also crucial to establish clear guidelines around gameplay, such as filtering mature language and ensuring your child only plays with friends they know in real life.
If your kid gets really invested in “Fortnite,” you’ll also want to consider the other content they’ll consume. Even if their own gaming experience is age-appropriate, they may watch playthrough videos on YouTube that feature other people having more violent, and potentially inappropriate, experiences on “Fortnite.” It’s a good idea to talk to your child about what to do if they see something that makes them feel uncomfortable, and use a tool like BrightCanary monitoring to supervise their Google and YouTube activity.
Setting these boundaries can help make "Fortnite" a more positive experience for your child, fostering responsible gaming habits while allowing them to enjoy the social and strategic aspects of the game.
"Fortnite" is generally safe for tweens and teens, but parents should use parental controls to shield their children from unwanted interactions with strangers. Additionally, it’s crucial to consider the game's mild violence when determining if it's suitable for your family.