Fortnite has taken the world by storm, and every kid nowadays
Can seven-year-olds play Fortnite? Legally, Fortnite is given a rating of Teen, which means that it is generally only appropriate for children 13 years old and up. Of course, every child is different, and a parent may deem Fortnite appropriate for their seven-year-old child.
What makes Fortnite inappropriate for children under 12 years old? And even with that rating, why would many parents allow their seven year old children to play this game?
I’m going to explain the game Fortnite in more detail to give you as much information as possible so that you can make your decision. I am also going to support both sides of the argument to give you a better view.
Fortnite is a game called a Battle Royal Game. A Battle Royal is a type of game where there are multiple contestants, and the last player standing is the winner.
Think of The Hunger Games, and you’ll be on track. Actually, battle royal style games like Fortnite and Player Unknown’s Battle Grounds (or PUBG for short) were inspired by The Hunger Games.
Basically, in the Fortnite universe, a fluke storm has broken out on Earth, wiping out 98% of the world’s population and reducing them to zombie-like husks. Players much glide down from the sky (in a flying bus) into a “safe zone” where they fight other players for resources and weapons.
They buil their own shelters and attempt to be the last one to survive. Over the course of each battle, the “safe zone” shrinks before the growing storm.
Unlike a lot of video games, Fortnite doesn’t even try to look realistic at all. Many video games try and get as realistic as possible, with lifelike characters, recorded audio, and intense plots.
Usually, games like these get live actors to act out cut scenes while wearing motion sensor suits.
Fortnite, on the other hand, is obviously an animated, even cartoonish, game. The color pallet is bright. There are no live actors, the plot is out of this world crazy, and there are odd props like llamas and giant cheeseburgers.
There are towns named things like Tomato Town or Pleasant Park, vehicles like Shopping Carts, and outfits like space suits and dinosaur costumes. Fornite does not take things seriously.
The game is free and has a silly sense of humor, where nothing in the game is meant to be taken seriously.
There is even a non-combative mode of the game called Playground, where kids can just meet up on the map and practice or hang out. The game is also compatible with multiple devices, so kids can team up even if they don’t all own and X-BOX One.
The fighting is not
Of course, because the main point of the game is to kill other players, the rating still has to be “Teen”.
Fortnite has created a large fan base, complete with odd dances, costumes, and real-world mysteries. Although it is meant for children 13 years old and up (teenagers), their actual audience ended up including younger children as well. It has reached a player number of 125 million people.
This large fan base is mostly due to the nature of the game. It is a game that encourages teaming up by including modes like Duos or Teams. There is a chat feature where players can communicate, and players on teams can talk through mics on their devices.
Video Game Ratings
The Entertainment Software Rating Board (or ESRB) developed a system with which they rated video games. This is to inform the buyers of the video games of what they are getting themselves into.
If games like Call of Duty or The Last of Us were rated E for Everyone, we would have a lot of angry parents on our hands.
The rating system, developed in 1994, is as follows:
- RP for Rating Pending– this is a “rating” assigned to promotional materials for a game that has not yet been rated.
- EC for Early Childhood- these games are aimed at a preschool audience (I have no idea how preschool age kids would be able to play a video game, but this is an actual rating, I promise). There is nothing in these games that parents should be worried about.
- E for Everyone– these games are appropriate for all ages. They may contain mild or cartoon violence, as well as mild language. And by mild language, I mean that one character might yell at another character.
- E10+ for Everyone 10 and Up– these games are appropriate for everybody ages 10 and up. The content in these games is slightly more intense than an E rating, but nothing too bad. Definitely not enough to warrant a Teen rating.
- T for Teen– these games are appropriate for children ages 13 and up. It includes the moderate use of violence (usually the marker for this is that the violence actually includes blood at this point) and the moderate use of language. There might be sexual content, intense themes, or crude humor.
- M for Mature– these games are appropriate for children ages 17 and up. These games can contain more realistic and graphic violence, darker themes, crude humor, use of strong language, and sexual content. There also might be the use of drug or alcohol.
- AO for Adults Only– these games are only appropriate for those 18 years old or older. This rating is given to games with strong sexual content, graphic violence or nudity, or unsimulated gambling with real currency. Most of the time, this rating is given to adult pornographic games, and rarely just for violence.
Each rating is accompanied by a content description. A content description explains why the video game is rated the way that it is. For example, a game rated E for Everyone would have a content description that might say: Comic Mischief and Mild Lyrics. Or a game rated M for Mature would have a content description that might say: Intense Violence and Strong Language.
Although there is no bloody violence in Fortnite, the whole premise of the game is to kill other players, and ESRB couldn’t very well ignore that fact, could they?
And because the violence is mild, Fortnite does not have to be rated M for Mature. There are explosions and cries or pain, however.
Yay for Fortnite
Although Fortnite is only meant for kids who are 13 years old or older, there is a big case for allowing kids even as young as seven years old to play Fortnite.
The game’s point is to shoot and kill the opposing members, and as a theme, that is rather strong, but there is no blood. The graphics are cartoonish and the premise is silly, so there is nothing to take seriously.
Fortnite can teach your child strategy and teamwork. It can help them learn how to form teams and work well with them. It can teach how to deal with failure and learn from mistakes.
Fortnite also avoids compulsion loops that make video games more addictive. It can also be used as a reward for good behavior (i.e. “If you finish your homework, you can play for half an hour).
In addition to the violence not being graphic, there are the social circles of modern day kids to take into consideration.
Many of the kid-friendly YouTubers are beginning to stream videos of them playing Fortnite. Other apps, like Instagram and ones with an age limit, are being used by kids much younger than what is required.
Kids in this world are growing up quickly, and they might just be ready for things before the age limits are ready for them.
With all of this coverage on Fortnite, kids will be hearing about it from their friends, sibling, and the internet. The more they hear about it, the more they’re going to want to play it.
And maybe with all of that previous exposure prior to playing the game, they might just be ready for it. I started watching PG-13 movies long before I was 13 because my older siblings were watching them.
Of course, it is always up the parent to decide if their child is actually ready to play Fortnite. I know when I was little, I would say I was ready for things all the time, just because I didn’t want to miss out.
But my parents always knew best (even if at the time I vehemently declared otherwise).
Nay for Fortnite
You could say that games like Fortnite are part of the reason why kids are ready for things earlier in life. They are like the “gateway drug” of video games. From Fortnite, it’s only a small step to games like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto. Fortnite helps desensitize kids to violence.
Fortnite has two main issues. The first is the ability to make in-game purchases, and the second is the chat feature.
There a lot of cases where kids have, either on purpose or by accident, made in-game purchases that were charged to their parents’ credit cards without their parents knowing.
A lot of times, seven-year-olds don’t quite have a complete grasp on monetary matters. They may not understand that they are actually buying something in real life if they buy something in the game.
One way to avoid in-game purchases would be to disable and lock down your gaming console, apple play store, and iOS accounts to prevent your kids from even accidentally making in-game purchases that will come back on your credit card.
It is worth saying that in Fortnite, the in-game purchases are not forced like they are in other games.
The chat feature has created controversy around the clock. There is always a news story about somebody got stalked through an online chat. Because it is online, it is a lot easier to divulge things about yourself that you wouldn’t usually.
It just doesn’t seem real. People on chats can also ask clever questions that would grant them access to things like your bank account.
Even if your kids aren’t being stalked or scammed online, they can be exposed to some crude humor or strong language. Let’s be honest here, a lot of teenage boys are not very clean when it comes to language, and if you get a group of them together, the idiocy multiplies exponentially (this is just a general assessment I am making based on my high school experience; I understand that there are a huge number of teenage boys who are kind and clean, and I admire them).
To keep your kid safe, you can disable the mic and the chat on the game. This makes it impossible for other players to reach your kid directly, and it can help ease your mind.
Even though those two issues have solutions, should you really have to go through all of that work to make the game playable for your seven-year-old kid?
If the game has those issues in the first place, that might be evidence that the game itself is not a good game.
Fortnite can also cause some problems in the home. I’m not saying that violent video games lead to violent behavior in society (that song has been sung for far too long).
I am just saying that some kids might not be able to control their emotions when they lose.
In most shooting games, if you die, you just re-spawn and reenter the game. However, in Fortnite, if you die, you’re out of the game and have to go find another battle to enter. This can lead to some temper tantrums.
At seven years old, the brain is at a crucial developmental stage. Kids are starting to form opinions, problem-
They are just starting to learn how the world works, and that can cause some stress. They are not sure how to handle their new emotions.
With kids who are just starting to figure out how to control their emotions, introducing them to games that could lead to temper tantrums doesn’t really sound like a good idea. Of course, every kid is different, but it still raises a valid concern.
Even though the violence in Fortnite is not graphic, it can still have an effect on kids. Deaths often come out of nowhere and seem sudden and unfair. This can lead to kids being scared in the real world of sudden deaths.
Alternatives to Fortnite
If you’ve decided that you don’t want your child playing Fortnite but they are still begging for the opportunity to play a video game, here are some alternatives.
- Minecraft– Minecraft still allows kids to build things to their heart’s content. There is also a story mode if they like having a plot point. You will have to turn off the mic and chat, as well as disable your accounts. There is no shooting violence. It is rated E for Everyone.
- Lego Games– games like Lego Harry Potter allow kids to get more involved in their favorite movies. The games are innocent, with no violence, and they feature great puzzles and familiar
story lines. There are even opportunities to build teamwork skills with multiple players. All of these games are rated E for Everyone.
- Splatoon– in this game, the player has to use paint shooters to defeat tentacles. Although there is shooting in this game, there is no player against player, you can re-spawn, and there are no human deaths. It is rated E10+ for Everyone 10 and Up. Although this is not rated for
seven year olds, the only reason is because ithas “cartoon violence.”
Even with all of this information, really there is no correct answer.
Fortnite is rated T for Teen for a reason. The violence and loses can have an effect on children. There are features like in-game purchases and chats that raise little red flags in parent brains.
On the other hand, Fortnite is cartoonish and silly, and can teach teamwork and strategy. It seems almost harmless.
Really, it comes down to how well you know your child. You need to access your child’s mental development and determine if they are ready for it.
Monitor their time playing it, and turn it off if you see something that you don’t want your child exposed to. Turn off the mic and chat, and disable your accounts to protect your child (and your bank account) even more.
It’s all up to you.
How do you play Fortnite? Fortnite is a free game that you can download onto your computer, phone, or console. Fortnite needs about 4 GB of memory and a decent graphics card.
How old do you have to be to play Call of Duty? Call of Duty is rated M for Mature, meaning that it is not suitable for children under the age of 17. It has strong language, intense themes, and realistic violence.