Why Can Kids Can Stare at a Screen for a Fortnite?
Fortnite is the “It” girl of the gaming world this summer. Even if your kids are not playing it there is no doubt they know about it…and probably want to be playing it.
The game is explosively popular because it is available on most platforms (except Android, but that is in the works). And, they can actually play across platforms. No longer does it matter if everyone has an Xbox or PlayStation.
Oh, yeah, and you can play for free!
The fiscal side of raising kids can be death by a thousand cuts. Everything costs just a little something. So, when they are begging for THE new game and it is free, Fortnite becomes an easy “Yes.”
Fortnite came onto the scene as a bit of a cross between a Minecraft-like sandbox building game and a survival shooter game, that can be played solo or in a team, with campy Plants vs. Zombies style bad guys. However, when your kids are talking about Fortnite they are probably referring to Fortnite: Battle Royale. This is the free version (though the full version, Fortnite: Save the World, is expected to be offered for Free by the end of the year) and the gist of the game is you are dropped into an ever shrinking game map with 99 other players – you collect weapons, build safe structures and try to be the last player standing.
The lack of blood and guts and friendly-cartoon look of the game makes Fortnite more palatable for many parents and kids. But before you let the kids kick back on the couch for the summer with a controller grafted to their hands there are some things to be aware of.
The game is rated T for Teen, meaning it is generally acceptable for ages 13 and up. A large part of that has to do with the mild violence, the fact that there is an open chat feature, and in app purchases are available. Fortnite can be a great game with some diligence on the parent’s side.
How to Protect Your Kids & Your Bank Account
from Fortnite Scams
Matt Tatham, from Experian, has some specific tips on how not to get scammed. Fortnite has in-game currency called V-Bucks. They are used to buy things and upgrade your characters. The only legitimate way to get them is in the game. You can purchase them with a connected credit card or earn them by completing daily quests, missions, and so on.
Of course, if there is a way to make money there is someone trying to scam you for it. A common V-Buck scam is free V-Bucks following instructions from various YouTube videos. Just say no and tell your kids not to try to scam the system. Those ‘free’ bucks are going to cost you big time! For more information on avoiding this scam and others check out the full article.
2. Just Say No to that Android App
Fortnite has not made it to Android yet so if you have downloaded it it is fake. Delete that bad boy and hopefully you didn’t just buy a summer home for a Russian hacker.
3. Discuss Appropriate Online Behavior and Chat Protocols
Fortnite has voice/ text chat communication that cannot be completely turned off. You also need the sound in the game so muting is not an option. Unless your child joins a Lobby of friends there are good odds they will be playing with unknown persons around the world and exposed to language you may not find suitable. The best option here is to discuss online behavior and allow your child to play the game in a common room so you can monitor what is being said.
- Don’t share personal information
- Don’t talk to strangers
- Report odd or inappropriate behavior
- Note: The mobile version does not have chat.
- For the PC and console versions you can adjust Audio Features from the main Setting menu.
4. Use a Throw-Away Card
Have a credit card with a low limit dedicated to gaming or for instances where you need to link something to a credit card. While it won’t stop the theft it can mitigate the damages while you get it sorted out. Most reviewers who have been scammed have positive things to say about the parent company, Epic, but these things can take time.
5. Use Two-Factor Authentication
Sometimes I log into accounts where my spouse is the primary and I’ve forgotten the password. Then I have to track him down to get the code that will expire (I imagine Inspector Gadget-style) within a certain time period. It’s annoying but it’s safe. Epic has enabled two-factor authentication for Fortnite – use it. To read more about how Epic is securing accounts check out their most recent Account Security Bulletin.
6. Set Limits
As with any game limits are important to happiness and health. Parents should be aware these campaigns run about 20 minutes so asking your child to stop “right now” might result in a crazy meltdown. Maybe check the time left on a campaign before shutting things down or limit your child to so many campaigns per day.
Fortnite or any other game is not the problem but certainly problems can arise. If you do your part on helping your child set it up, set responsible limits, and maintain Internet expectations then this and other games can be a great part of your kid’s summer!
Have a great summer!