Fortnite: A Parent’s Manual

Are you the parent of one of 125 million players of the crazy popular video game, Fortnite? The multiplayer game seemed to drop out of thin and air. Now, every tween, teen and even some adults (Drake included) can’t get enough of the game.

Here are some interesting statistics we tracked down about Fortnite:

  • More than one in four teens (27 percent) say they’ve played Fortnite during class at school.
  • A third of teens say they’ve been exposed to inappropriate language or harassment while chatting with other players.
  • Half of teens say playing Fornite helps them keep up with their friends, 50 percent say it has helped them learn teamwork, 44 percent have made a friend online, 40 percent have improved their communication skills, and 39 percent have bonded with a sibling.
  • Boys are more likely than girls to claim positive benefits from playing Fortnite. Notably, teen girls are more likely than boys to say they have bonded with a sibling by playing Fortnite.

There are lots of reasons why Fortnite is so popular with young people. One reason is that it combines two other genres that are already popular with gamers. Another is that it has a more “cartoonish” look than many other gory video games, so younger gamers and first-timers are drawn to it. Kids can play with friends in Duos and Squads, providing a more social platform. Plus, in the case of Battle Royale, it’s free- although it does have in-app purchases.

For some parents, the cartoonish, bloodless style of the violence and action in Fortnite makes it more acceptable than the outright gore in other popular shooter games.
But the game does have an online chat feature — especially in Battle Royale — which may expose younger players to offensive language or mature content from random strangers. Fortnite is recommended for teens 13 and up, primarily because of the open chat and violence. But, with the correct parental controls set-up, younger kids could play it.

A topic that comes up time and time again when reading about Fortnite and parents is screen time management. If “Just one more game!” is a phrase you are hearing a lot around your home, keep reading for some pointers we found from Common Sense Media:

Limit by round or time, depending on type of play. In “playground mode,” friends play together in an open world without the usual constraints of a normal Battle Royale session. This means that if you learned the trick of telling your kid they can play a certain number of rounds (which can last anywhere from one to 20 minutes), this new type of play makes those rules moot. In “playground mode” kids can endlessly “respawn” (or come back to life), which means if you want to set a limit, it needs to be based on time (like half an hour or 90 minutes). And kids’ usual excuse of not being able to quit mid-game doesn’t apply in “playground mode.”

Know how to use Fortnite settings. A big concern for parents — especially for younger kids — is the ability to talk to strangers while playing Fortnite. There are a few very easy ways to deal with that. First, don’t get your kid a headset. Without a headset, kids can still play but won’t be able to talk to anyone (unless they simultaneously call their friends on their phones). Another option: Go to settings from within the game, click on “Privacy: Public” and change to “Privacy: Friends” or “Privacy: Private.” That way kids will only play with people whose handles they know (and hopefully have met in real life). Last, turn off voice chat. Go to settings, click on the gear icon, and toggle voice chat to off.

Use parental controls. If you need something a little stronger to enforce your rules around Fortnite, you have a few options. Because Fortnite needs to be connected to the internet to work, any tool that will shut off internet access will allow you to shut off the game. If kids are playing on a console, turning off Wi-Fi through your provider’s app or device should be pretty easy. If kids are playing on an iPhone or iPad, you can use the settings within the device to set limits (or disable access completely) to Fortnite. Also, some parental-control products, such as Circle by Disney, build in Fortnite-specific controls.

Project B3 knows that moderation is key when dealing with screen time. Help your tweens and teens by enabling parental controls when necessary. And remember, always strive to be a good role model. Perhaps now is a good time to think about setting screen time limits for yourself.