Following on from our recent email regarding the Growing Up Online session, there have been a number of parent conversations about Fortnite. In the email, we put forward Cybersafety expert Susan McLean’s view that Fortnite is not suitable for primary school-aged children. This view is shared by UPS school leadership and staff.
Parents and carers may find it helpful to read the following summary of the arguments for and against Fortnite, written by both parent and staff representatives on the school’s Wellbeing and Education Committee.
What is Fortnite?
There are a number of different versions of the game Fortnite, but one of the most popular is Fortnite: Battle Royale, which is a highly popular online strategy game developed by Epic Games.
It is an M rated multiplayer shooter game that has been described as a half way option for children who have outgrown Minecraft but are too young for CS:GO (Counter Strike: Global Offensive, which is rated MA15+) and Call of Duty (which is rated R18+).
Fortnite is a combat-based game in which up to 100 players are dropped onto the game map and must compete to be the last one standing by killing every other player in the game.
Why is it so popular?
Fortnite is free and can be played on any device (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows, Mac and mobile). It allows players to play solo, duo or in squads. There is an online chat feature, and it is possible to be mic’ed up and for players to play at the same time as their friends in different locations.
How is Fortnite addictive, and why is my child so resistant when I ask them to stop playing?
It features games that must be completed within 20 minutes. It is not possible to “pause” or resume a game once it has started. It is an exciting, well produced game with high production values.
What is different about Fortnite from other games?
The fact that it is free is a huge drawcard. The ability to play on multiple platforms is another. Live play is another attraction.
What are some of the positive and negative aspects of Fortnite?
Promoters of Fortnite point to the fact that it involves problem solving, team work and strategic thinking. Critics point out that those skills can be learnt in other, far healthier ways.
Promoters point out that the violence is bloodless and not graphic; critics find this aspect even more concerning as it sanitises or normalises killing.
Fortnite depicts gun violence, and realistic weapons. Its addictive nature can mean that children lose focus on other real-world activities and relationships.
Are there safety concerns?
Yes. Online chat texting built into the game cannot be reliably blocked or filtered. Young players may be exposed to unsuitable language or conversations, and be contactable by other players who may be using concealed or assumed identities.
I don’t even let my children play Fortnite, so why is it an issue for me?
Given the huge popularity of Fortnite, it is a major topic of students’ discussions and interest, within school hours and out of school. There is a risk of those not engaged in Fortnite feeling excluded from what has become a big part of student life in some sections of the school community.
While UPS cannot impose a rule on behaviours outside school hours, it is the school’s view that Fortnite is not appropriate for children of primary school age. We hope that this summary is helpful to all parents and carers, regardless of their children’s current attitude to Fortnite.
If anyone wishes to get in touch with our committee to discuss this further, please feel free to do so by emailing email@example.com
For additional information, you may like to talk to your child’s class teacher, or visit some of the following websites:
e-Safety Commissioner: www.esafety.gov.au
Kids Help Line 1800 55 1800 www.kidshelpline.com.au
Common Sense Media www.commonsensemedia.org
Australian Classification www.classification.gov.au
Dept for Education (SA), parenting easy guide on Cybersafety