As "Fortnite" Blows Up, Parents Need to Up Their Game

A new survey confirms what most parents already know: Kids are going crazy for "Fortnite." Here are some practical tips to manage it. By Sierra Filucci

Does your kid talk endlessly about Tilted Towers and V-Bucks? Do his shouts of "Revive me! Revive me!" ring throughout your home? Have you considered moving to a remote island without internet access to rid yourself of absolutely anything having to do with Fortnite? Welcome to Fortnite frenzy! You're the parent of one of 125 million players of the enormously popular multiplayer third-person-shooter video game Fortnite: Battle Royale

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As parents of Fortnite players know, getting kids to stop playing can turn into a battleground of its own. According to a new Common Sense/SurveyMonkey poll, about one in five parents says it's at least moderately difficult to get kids off the game. About a quarter say they're concerned about how much time their kid is playing, and the same number express worry over their kid's exposure to violence in the game. Here are a few other key findings:

  • Fortnite is super popular -- but still not as popular as Instagram. More than six in 10 teenagers (61 percent) say they have played Fortnite, coming close to the percentages of teens who say they use Snapchat (73 percent) and Instagram (74 percent), found in a previous survey.
  • Girls play, too! (But not as much as boys.) Although teen boys are much more likely to say they've played (75 percent), 47 percent of teen girls say they've played. Of teens who play, about 22 percent of boys play at least once a day, compared to 9 percent of girls.
  • It might be more tempting than geometry. More than one in four teens (27 percent) say they've played Fortnite during class at school.
  • Swearing happens. A third of teens (33 percent) say they've been exposed to inappropriate language or harassment while chatting with other players.
  • Fortnite = friends (especially for boys). Half of teens (50 percent) 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. But 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.

So, how do you manage a game that's more fun than math class, keeps kids connected, and even has some positive benefits? By knowing enough about the game to help your kid keep it balanced with all the other stuff they need to do. One way to learn more about the game is to sit down and play it yourself (one in five dads has tried it, as have about 18 percent of moms!). Then, when it comes to setting limits, you'll have a bit more insider knowledge. These tips will help, too:

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. Check out more information about Screen Time settings in iOS 12. Also, some parental-control products, such as Circle by Disney, build in Fortnite-specific controls.

About Sierra Filucci

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Sierra is a journalist with a special interest in media and families. She has a master's degree in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley, and she's been writing and editing professionally for more... Read more

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Comments (8)

Adult written by overprotectivep...

You guys do know, if you’re not a kid like myself, that your children are not dumb. I’m pretty sure a teenager knows how to change party privacy and turn off voice chat, on the other hand, parents probably don’t know how. Also, if you don’t want your kid to feel like an outsider, get him/her a headset, becuase if you don’t they’ll get bullied, because I’ve seen it happen. I’ve met one of my closest friends by turning voice chat on, so you’re telling me that because you don’t know them, they’re automatically a child predator, and/or an incredibly toxic/annoying player. Oh no, my kid got sweared at, he totally doesn’t do it him/herself too. Don’t blame things on other people, becuase maybe they’re doing it themselves. Shouldn’t parents be worried about kids vaping, or doing drugs instead of worrying about them getting sweared at online? Parents, good luck trying, but you’ll probably fail at getting your child to be a saint
Teen, 13 years old written by Iwonttellmyname

Hello all parents you think that if your kid plays a "violent game" like fortnite they will grow up being aggressive and want to use weapons. It will put an influence in their heads to become killers. Think about what your saying!!! And if its because its too addicting and they stay up all night thats not fortnite's fault, and im sorry I have to tell you the truth but, its your fault for letting them stray up all night. ANND its also your fault if they grow up under the influence of the "violence" of the game, because you let those thoughts get into their head and stay there. Just tell them and make sure that they know what they're doing in the game is not OK. I have no clue as to why parents and people give games a bad rap!! Please please please, don't take away something that gives kids such a good time because you, again sorry, very stupidly think that it will make them serial killers. Thank you for reading this if you did I really hope you change your mind about video games, and fortnite.
Teen, 14 years old written by Zane G.

Stop. You obviously know nothing. Get your kid a headset. I can't stand hearing my voice echo every time I speak to them. Don't mute people unless they are being racist or vulgar. Don't automatically mute everyone because fortnite is a communication heavy game and automatically muting everybody is no fun for everybody else trying to play. Why do you need to shut off the game remotely either? Just go into your kids room and tell him to get off. If he doesn't listen, then you probably don't have control over your child which is probably why you are on this platform in the first place, reading this not thought through article, written by a parent who does not know anything. If you teach your kids to be afraid of strangers and every person they meet on Xbox is a bad person, then you are a terrible parent. Xbox is another outlet to make friends and if you are sheltering your child from probably cool people, then your not doing anything helpful for him. So, Sierra Filucci, I hope you know that you know absolutely nothing about Xbox, or Fortnite, or anything, and just because you have a child (which you probably have no control over) does not make you an expert
Adult written by Stephen Grant1

I agree with the recommendations here, but ask that you simply opt for insisting on private profiles rather than eliminating headphones. One of the major benefits of games right now is the ability to connect and “talk” with friends. In contrast to social media venues, headsets facilitate direct, social connection where kids can read emotion and inflection through real conversations. Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.
Parent written by jeannab13

I am a Tech Facilitator at a middle school and a mom to 10 and 12 year old boys...I play FortNite with my boys. I figured if I couldn't beat them-I might as well join them. Well - I have beat them...LOL The students at my school are surprised when I know about and can join in on their FortNite conversations. I share your posts on our school Facebook page all the time.
Parent of a 11 year old written by PesoDeso

If you really played Fornite, you'd know it would be written "Fortnite", not "FortNite."
Adult written by Loungin

...and yet your error is worse, "Fornite", ha ha fool! Maybe you're playing too much FartNite and it's eroding your brain.