Many parents have probably already heard the game Fortnite be mentioned by their own kids or by others, just like Among Us and Roblox. Fortnite was created in 2011 and has since seen its number of players increase more and more.
In August of this year, the game’s producer, Epic Games, stated that it had reached 500 million user accounts – while, last year, the number was 350 million.
Fortnite is a multiplayer online game (i.e. it allows several players to play one match at the same time) of the battle royale genre, that is, it gathers a big group of players who stay in one place searching for weapons, wood and building tools. Of this starting group, only one player or team survives and wins the match.
For this reason, whoever plays Fortnite gets very focused and tense during the match, since it’s not possible to pause. Aside from this Fortnite narrative, it’s possible to explore and discover map elements of the game, and, parallel to this, defeat enemies. In a simplified way, we can say that the last player wins – in other words, the one who survived all the battles and managed to escape other players.
The main goal within the game is to be the last one surviving, usually by winning combats against other players. In order to do that, users can play in solo mode, in pairs or in teams of four participants maximum.
Those who better explore the map, win resources, acquire items and/or establish their bases have an advantage in combat. Knowing the map is extremely important since this keeps players alert during moments of combat.
The game is free and can be played on a PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS and Android. To download the game in the computer, you need to access Fortnite’s main page, select the option “play free now” and then select PC/Mac.
The next step is to create an Epic Games account, which is the platform that hosts the game, similar to a game store. Some data are requested, such as country, full name, user name, email address and password. The game also offers the possibility of creating an account with your Facebook or Gmail logins. After filling out this information, the user must choose a destination folder where the game will be saved in the computer.
Once the process of installation and user and password creation is complete, it’s time to start playing. In order to do that, you need to select the Battle Royale mode, which appears on the home screen.
After selecting the character and their skin, there are a few game mode options for the user to choose from: solo, duos and squads – i.e. the player can choose to play alone, with another player or in a team.
The game starts as soon as these steps are completed. The player starts the match on a hot air balloon or flying bus in the sky from where they’re airdropped, landing right on the game’s map.
We know games and apps have a few ways to monetize their creations, i.e. to “make money” from them, as explained in this article.
Fortnite is free to download and play – and it’s free of advertising. Then how does it make money? Through in-game purchases. Fortnite sells some items that you can use inside the game.
In the item shop inside Fortnite, it’s possible to buy Skins (character clothes), weapons and accessories to customize your character and even improve your performance in battles. The game’s currency is V-Bucks. As of when this article was written, you can buy 1,000 V-Bucks for $7.99; 2,800 V-Bucks for $19.99 and so on and so forth.
Besides the items already mentioned, loot boxes can also be bought in the store. Loot boxes are boxes with random items to customize your character. These items are sold separately in the shop, but users are attracted to loot boxes due to the possibility of finding rare items there. Loot boxes use the same mechanic used in casinos and they can be harmful to kids.
In the United States, purchases made inside Fortnite have become an issue for many kids, who are being bullied for having “default” characters – i.e. whoever plays with the character skin that they started the game with, without customizing them with items sold in the shop, is derogatorily called “default”.
This social pressure to customize characters generates a false need for consumption among kids, if only to protect themselves from being bullied in school or inside the game.
In other words, kids are not even safe and protected at home, where they’re attacked online through the Fortnite chat. This needless consumption encouraged by the game is one of the main causes of concern with respect to kids.
As we have mentioned, the player who’s the last one standing at the end of the match wins. Therefore, in addition to having to think about defense strategies, you need to shoot enemies so that they’re destroyed, which implies violent scenes.
Despite all the shootings and players “dying”, the game isn’t very realistic. The game graphic doesn’t show blood and then a player dies, what appears on the screen is the items such player was keeping and which are now available for the other player to collect.
In Brazil, the game matches were rated for people over 12 years old. In the United States, on the other hand, the recommended age is 13 years old, which is the same age that Epic Games, the company that created the game, suggested.
Similar to Among Us, Fortnite has a chat feature during the game, where it’s possible for players to talk during matches. In this case, however, it’s possible to silence the chat in the following manner:
The most important tip that encompasses not only Fortnite but many other games is to have constant, open dialogues with your kids. Communication builds trust in the little ones and it will make it easier for them to talk about any type of situation that happens in the game that seems unusual.
Written by Débora Nazário
Translated by Mariana Gruber
We can’t say that Fortnite is a violence-free game, because it’s not. There are weapons, shootings, and the game winner is the one who survives. Therefore, we reinforce that it is necessary for parents and kids to have conversations about the game.
Being interested in what your kids like and even playing with them is something that brings you closer and makes them comfortable enough to seek adult help if they feel the need.
It’s important to always be attentive when it comes to the chat feature in case it isn’t silenced, even if your kids aren’t showing any concerning signs. Asking what they talk about and agreeing with them that you’re going to check it once in a while are very important in order to protect them from ill-intentioned people.
Talking about what your kids think about that violence is also worth it, since the game tries masking this issue by giving it an air of fantasy. Many kids don’t even notice the violence and henceforth don’t treat it as such.
But violence isn’t the game’s most fragile issue. How it monetizes – in other words, how Fortnite makes money – is what parents should always be concerned about.
Therefore, our stance regarding Fortnite is that kids under 10 don’t play the game, since they don’t understand how the monetization works, i.e. that each item actually costs real money. They’re not prepared yet for this type of game model.
For older kids, talking about this issue and establishing limits are paramount. Agreements like these will change according to each family’s reality, but it’s important that they understand clearly that each item bought is worth money.
It’s also important to talk about how this affects your kids’ social lives. We’ve seen many who are bullied in school for using the “default” character in the game. Keep an eye out for this, talk about this issue and be attentive to how your kids seem before and after playing Fortnite. Many kids become anxious and only play it because they “need” to be in the same environment that everyone else is.
In spite of all this, there’s no denying that Fortnite helps to develop certain skills.
Shooting games in general develop spatial vision, since the game’s point of view is usually first-person and you need to pay a lot of attention to all the elements around you in order to shoot and hide. Agility is also developed, as well as global and focal attention, since you need to focus on one target and search for a secure place at the same time.
There’s one more thing that even Fortnite itselfs awards: buildings. The user can collect wood, rocks, ropes and tools in the game to build fortresses – hiding places that assist you in the game – and the player profits from each building. Similar to Minecraft and Roblox, this “Sandbox” type of game that allows kids to build things is very beneficial to both their spatial vision and creativity. We’ve talked about spatial vision in games here.
If your kids are starting to play computer games, it is possible that soon you’re going to hear about Discord. Here is some important information about Discord for you to know what kids are doing to play online.
Discord is a chat app. It’s quite popular within the gaming community, but it has gained popularity within other niches as well since many companies and schools have adopted the program for remote work and teaching.
Discord allows users to communicate over text, voice and/or video, through channels, groups, or private chats.
The app became popular among gamers for being a good meeting point option: it is possible to play online and talk to people on a Discord voice channel at the same time. In addition, there is the streaming option, which is when someone streams their computer screen live so that other people can see their game.
Another strength is the communities Discord forms. There are servers of the most varied themes, where users can discuss news, ask questions, give out advice and even find other players to play together.
To better understand how it works, we are first going to explain its structure. If your kids are on Discord, it is important to know the following details.
According to Discord’s Terms of Service, it requires that users are at least 13 years old to access the app or the website. This is done by date of birth confirmation during the registration that gives access to Discord. If the user is under 13 years of age, the account is blocked. Of course, many kids know this and type in another date of birth so that they can create an account, just like in many other websites and apps.
Discord takes some precautions to make their user’s experience safer, regardless of age:
If your kid is younger than 13 and is already on Discord, be aware that this is not in accordance with the platform’s rules. Maybe you can both reach an agreement to migrate to another platform where kids are allowed, but we know this may be a challenging task. If they don’t budge and you decide not to forbid your kid from playing with their friends on Discord, you need to pay attention to the following issues:
Discord doesn’t have parental controls, but there are some settings that can make your kids safer there. In order to do that, open Discord and search the navigation menu for User Settings, which has a gear icon, and then click on Privacy and Security. There are many options there that you can either turn on or off. Here are some tips:
If you or your kids see hate messages, threats, or any act that goes against Discord’s rules, it’s possible to report it. In order to do that, you need to copy the message link. You can get this link by right clicking on the message, selecting the option “copy message link” and pasting the message over DM (Direct Message, when you send a message directly to Discord) or over the Discord server, both within the platform.
It’s also possible to send an email by filling out a form that describes what happened. Here, in the option What we can help you?, select the option Trust & Safety. We recommend attaching screenshots of the chat and saving all the message links. The message should be written in English.
Written by Luisa Scherer
Translated by Mariana Gruber
Discord was created for people over 13 years old. At this age, teenagers are mature enough to deal with subjects like bullying, they notice more easily when they’re being tricked and they are aware that anyone could be on the other side of the screen. Kids under 13 don’t have the necessary skills yet to notice some of these warnings.
Despite that, Discord is a great platform to play online with friends, and we know it’s one of kids and teenagers’ favorites. If your kids are younger than the minimum age and use it either way, it’s up to each parent to decide whether or not your kids are allowed to be on Discord.
We believe it’s possible to keep kids on the platform so long as you’re very attentive. Therefore, make sure your kids know all their Discord friends from real life or make sure that they’re all the same age. It’s also worth asking your kids if you can arrange to talk to their virtual friends’ parents one day, in order to ensure that the kids are, in fact, the same age and that all parents from “both sides” are on the same page.
If your kids are under 13, we suggest they don’t use headphones when they’re on Discord. It’s easier for you to be attentive this way and notice what is being said in the channels and servers they are a part of.
Keep an open and recurring dialogue over your kids’ games and the experiences on Discord. Talk to them, be interested in what they play. This makes it all easier when they need your help. Always mention some precautions they should take, such as not accepting friend requests from people they don’t know, asking for your help when they stumble across something unusual and this type of thing.
Remember that your kids and their friends can also create servers. We recommend reading this to learn how to create a safe Discord server.
You have probably heard of TikTok, the social media network that keeps expanding and growing in popularity among people of all ages, but mainly among teenagers. That’s where all the famous dances started coming from – and it looks like they’re not going anywhere for a while, but instead will continue to get more and more popular.
In early July, Fernanda Rocha Kanner posted a long text in her social media accounts speaking about her and her 14-year-old daughter Nina’s experience with TikTok. Fernanda decided to delete Nina’s TikTok account, which had garnered about 2 million followers, and her Instagram account.
In Fernanda’s post, she explains the reason behind this: she doesn’t want her daughter to go through her teenage years getting emotional over compliments or criticism from strangers. She also believes that that would hinder her daughter’s search for her own individuality.
The post went viral and a lot of people reacted both in favor or against Fernanda’s decision and stance. We thought this is an interesting theme to reflect on the social media use by teenagers. To what extent is it okay? Is the limit that obvious? Is taking TikTok away from the teenager worth it?
We think everything should be discussed. After all, teenagers are their parents’ responsibility – and parents value their kid’s safety. Taking this into consideration, we think the best way forward is to sit with your kids and discuss boundaries and consequences. Teenagers may even cross these lines (they most likely will), but they will know they violated what was agreed upon together and they will have to deal with the consequences.
Before making any decisions, it’s worth remembering that the childhood and the teenage years are stages in which we want to belong to a group, we want to be accepted and perceived, to show our worth and to feel valued. That is why teenagers like social media networks like TikTok so much – with all its likes, views and followers. All of this in excess can be harmful, but we believe every generation of teenagers had a “dangerous factor”, something that the adults worried about because they didn’t quite know it, or didn’t like it, or even didn’t understand it.
Because of that, maintaining open communication is important. Okay, teenagers don’t like to talk to their parents. However, pushing a little when it comes to this subject is worth it – it makes it easier to notice when your kids might be needing help, in addition to showing them they have got their parents’ support. You see, it’s not a matter of convincing kids so they think like their parents. Instead, it’s about clarity and understanding the rules and what was agreed upon.
The minimum permitted age to use TikTok in Brazil and the United States is 13 years old. Users younger than that may have an account but are not allowed to post any kind of content. Unfortunately, this rule is not very effective, since it is possible to create an account with a different age. Kids know this, of course, and create accounts on TikTok and other social networks with dates of birth that allow them to post content.
When we create an account on TikTok or another social network, we choose between two types of profile: public and private. A public profile allows anyone to view your content and you have no control over who is able to access them. In a private profile, only your friends and followers can see what you post. If someone wants to be your friend/follower, they need to request to do so and you need to accept. In other words, you have total control over the people who access your profile and your content, and you know exactly who sees what you post.
Having a private profile keeps random strangers from seeing what your teenager posts – and it keeps you from waking up and seeing your kid’s social media accounts have gained 2 millions followers overnight.
Private profiles on TikTok and other social media apps allow only those who are friends or followers of the profile owner to view its content. Therefore, take it as a rule: only add people you already know.
The internet is still a place full of judgment, including those body-related (regardless of body type). Caution your kids against posting intimate or sexy photos that expose too much of their bodies, even if that’s not their intention.
Other users may interpret their pictures in many ways and your kids, mostly girls, can become targets of slut-shaming (which is to be called a “slut” or other derogatory terms for violating certain socially-accepted clothing codes) or body shaming (another term in which the body is ridiculed and criticized by other people).
Slut shaming is the act of humiliating, belittling or degrading someone, usually a woman, for their sex life, the way they dress, talks, or expresses themselves. An example of it is when a woman wears clothing considered short and hears complaints or negative comments about her appearance, her body and her behavior as a woman in society.
Body shaming, on the other hand, is the act of controlling other people’s bodies, i.e. when someone is bullied for being considered too fat, too skinny, or as having too much cellulite, or breasts that are too big or small, etc. It’s bullying in the form of appearance pressures. Body shaming occurs more between girls than boys, but you need to always stay alert regardless.
Both of these types of bullying target teenagers’ bodies and can contribute to them developing perceptual distortions of their own bodies and even eating disorders.
It’s also worth cautioning your kids against posting pictures of where they live, their school uniform, and other things that could identify the places they frequent and their routines. The same goes for personal information such as their IDs and social security numbers.
By doing so, you can be closer to what they post and to the people who follow them. They will most likely have a “Close Friends” group on Instagram without you, in order to post things they don’t want you to see, but that’s okay, isn’t it? We don’t want to share absolutely everything with everyone!
Dive into this world and try to understand why your kids like it so much, including the TikTok dances – if they’re important to them. Show them you’re interested in what they like. You don’t have to force yourself to enjoy it, but show an interest in getting to know their world and, above all, in understanding that it has value to them. Many teenagers don’t want their parents to like what they do, but they feel at peace when they know their parents understand that it is important to them.
Saying that the TikTok dances (which are very popular in the app) are useless or passing any type of judgment over what teenagers do online creates a negative charge around them. Think about it: if they seek validation through this content, imagine how they feel when their parents say it is ridiculous or diminish it in any way.
It’s easy for teenagers to think lowly of themselves when they hear their parents talk about the things they like in a derogatory way. For example: “TikTok dances are awful and I like TikTok dances. Therefore, I’m awful.” Of course that is not true, but it is easy to fall into this trap since it’s an age in which their identity is intricately connected to their behaviors and interests. Moreover, this drives parents away from their kids. If parents are constantly demeaning the things you like, why would you still share your interests, the things you do, etc. with them?
By taking the measures mentioned above, it won’t be necessary to make any drastic decisions such as deleting all your kids’ social media.
If this happens, deleting your kids’ social media accounts is an option, but bear in mind that they might not like this decision and may feel that you do not value something they worked hard to build. We believe that it is possible to try a few measures before doing something drastic:
If you still decide to delete their social media accounts, allow them to say goodbye to their public. Many teenagers consider their followers their support network or even their friends. Help your kids write a post or record a video saying goodbye to their followers and informing them of what is going to happen.
We know kids don’t want their parents around during their teenage years, and that’s okay. But it is important to monitor and look after them without suffocating or invading their privacy. That’s what we hope for – for everyone to be able to deal with this in a healthier way.
Written by Luisa Scherer
Translated by Mariana Gruber
Social media is increasingly present in our lives. Sharing our routines, what we eat, who we meet and what we are listening to has become the norm, so much so that there are now many people who have turned this into their work and source of income. Amidst all this, certain necessary precautions have been taken for granted, especially by parents and people who live with kids.
The internet provides great things, such as support networks for parents, for instance — however, there are certain behaviors that need to be reviewed and questioned. Is it healthy for children to grow up with so many moments of their lives exposed on the internet? The main tool to find a healthy balance on social media is common sense.
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By Caroline Knorr
Think through your posts – really. To you, an ultrasound image or the story of baby’s first giggle is the most precious thing ever. To the rest of the world, it’s just content. (Cute content, but still.) Social platforms track data, your followers judge what you post, and just like anything else, your information can be copied, shared, or misused. Ask yourself the three questions below to determine whether you need to share smaller. If so, you can send your picture to specific people, make an invite-only private group, or just set your profile to private.
Avoid “over-sharenting.” What’s over-sharenting? Pictures of poop, constant updates on every gurgle, livestreams of intimate moments such as breastfeeding, bath time, and potty training. Be thoughtful about what you’re sharing and how often. And make sure to comment, like, or otherwise interact with your friends’ and families’ posts about their lives.
Know when to go to the pros. It’s fine to get input from your online pals, but for anything that has major importance – feeding, health and safety, money, education – call your pediatrician, child care provider, financial advisor, or your mom. Anything with minimal consequences, such as when to put baby in shoes or the best time to clip their nails, is OK to crowdsource.
Be careful about baby’s “digital footprint.” Some parents create social media profiles for their babies with the idea their kids will use them when they turn 13 (the age of consent for social media). While it can be fun for relatives to get an update “from baby,” a profile creates a digital footprint, which invites data tracking, marketing, and other privacy issues. If you decide to create a profile, make sure you include only minimal information, use strict privacy settings, and avoid any photos that are potentially embarrassing.
Here are some things to consider:
Join a photo-storage service. You’ll post about 7 billion photos of your kid before they’re out of diapers. Photo-storage platforms such as Flickr, Photobucket, and Google Photos have the advantage of free or low-cost storage, plus the ability to share with only certain people or groups. (Every online platform has privacy issues, though, so make sure you’re comfortable with the terms of any service you join.)
Preserve memories digitally. You can do this a few ways. Some parents like to grab the opportunity to create an email account under baby’s name. Once they have an email address, you can use it to send messages, photos, and videos so they are all collected in one place. Or, consider an electronic scrapbook or journal such as Notabli, 23snaps, and eFamily, which offer a secure way to collect and share photos, videos, and stories.
Get rid of triggers. The highly curated photos and posts from friends whose lives seem more fulfilling can make moms feel sad, jealous, and angry. Unfollow anyone who doesn’t make you feel good. Instead, seek out groups, advocates, and thought leaders who nourish your soul.
Tweak your settings. Most social platforms allow you to hide posts (see fewer posts from someone); snooze (temporarily stop seeing posts); mute (turn someone off for a while); and do not disturb (temporarily block a person).
Manage notifications. Constant pings on your phone can overwhelm and distract you. You can turn off notifications entirely, allow only important ones, or batch them so you receive them on a schedule.
Connect with the growing anti-perfection movement. Real Simple’s public Instagram profile, #womenirl, shares photos from people’s real (messy) lives.
Step away. The impact of social media isn’t fully understood. New parents are emotionally vulnerable because they’re tired, unsure, and perhaps suffering from postpartum depression. If you feel crappy more than you feel good, and sharing photos from your life doesn’t make you feel better, talk to a professional about what you’re going through.
by Rachel Ehmke
It’s hard to imagine life without social media. It has become essential to connecting with our friends, getting updates about what’s going on in the world and being entertained. We can barely remember (if we’re old enough to remember!) how we stayed in touch without it. But teens and young adults are increasingly reporting that social media can also be a source of stress.
What we hear a lot about, especially from teenagers, is that when they’re scrolling through feeds they are often (consciously or unconsciously) comparing themselves to others. People tend to post the highlights — the perfect hair, the perfect friends, the perfect pre-gym selfie—and it’s fun to scroll through them.
But it can also hurt your self-esteem when your life doesn’t feel as perfect as everyone else’s looks. It can make you start overanalyzing your own social media presence, counting the likes your latest post got and pushing yourself to look effortlessly perfect, too, regardless of how you’re really feeling.
Similarly, people are talking so much about the fear of missing out that there’s an acronym for it. Social media is FOMO’s best and worst friend. If you’re worried about missing out, social media is great because you can stay connected to everything, wherever you are. But since there’s always something new, you never feel like you’ve seen everything and you can take a break.
When everything is online you also sometimes get proof that you are, indeed, missing out. When you see your friends hanging out without you, it feels bad. Watching an ex starting a new relationship hurts.
If spending time on social media is causing stress, the usual advice is to unplug. And while that’s good advice, it’s not very realistic advice, especially for teenagers, who do a huge amount of their socializing online.
And this adolescent socializing is more important than it looks. Teenagers are still figuring out their place in the world, and it is often through their relationships that they begin to make sense of their identity. It isn’t in their interest to stop using social media entirely. But finding a way to have healthy relationships and a healthy self-esteem while still using social media is. Sound tough? Learn how to practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a technique for living in the moment and without judgment. It helps you become more aware of what is happening around you and how you feel. Taking the time to slow down and notice these details helps you regulate your emotions and stress levels. It also introduces a level of reflection and self-awareness that people often don’t have when they’re scrolling through feeds online.
And mindfulness isn’t just for taking a walk in the park or watching the sunset. If it is applied to the social media experience itself, says Jill Emanuele, PhD, a Child Mind Institute psychologist and mindfulness expert, it can help kids manage the emotion generated by all that information about what your friends are doing.
Dr. Emanuele recommends the following mindfulness strategies to make time spent online (and offline) happier.
Work on being more self-aware and prioritizing how you feel and what you think when you’re using social media. “The stereotype for using social media is you’re just going going going, not really thinking about the impact it’s having on you,” notes Dr. Emanuele. “You want to try to be mindful of that impact.”
Dr. Emanuele recommends asking yourself: How am I doing right now? How is this app making me feel? How did that picture make me feel? Try to be aware of changes in your mood, and see if you notice any patterns.
It’s okay if you notice that the emotions you are having are negative. Try not to judge how you are feeling, but do acknowledge the emotion. Acknowledging when you are feeling jealous or sad can be very powerful because it actually helps take some of the bite out of the bad feeling. It can also help you process your emotion — without getting carried away by it.
However, if something is consistently making you feel bad, practicing mindfulness can also help you identify that and then ask yourself why, and if there is something you can do that might help. Taking the time to notice — and value — how you are feeling is an important skill that will make you happier and more confident in all areas of your life, not just when you’re online.
Mindfulness can also give you reality check. For example, people often try to use social media as a way to cheer up when they’re feeling down or bored. So if you’re feeling bad about yourself, you might post something that’s totally opposite, like a cute selfie or a picture of your great friends. Sometimes projecting something different, or getting compliments online, can get you out of the funk.
But the satisfaction is often fleeting, and you can find yourself feeling like you’re just fooling everyone. If you notice that you actually feel worse afterwards, know that this isn’t uncommon, and look for more reliable ways to improve your mood.
Using technology to track technology is another strategy Dr. Emanuele recommends. For example there are apps like Moment and Checky that are designed to help you track how you use your phone.
“Do an experiment to see how much time you actually spend on certain things,” says Dr. Emanuele. “When you’re on it, what are you actually doing? What are your emotions like?”
Likewise, mood tracking apps and diaries remind you to take time to check in with yourself. They also create a record of how you’ve been feeling, which you can revisit after the fact. Gathering data on how you use technology and how technology affects you will help you notice patterns and, if necessary, develop better habits. Seeing the data might be surprising, since we often aren’t aware of how much time we spend once we start scrolling.
If you want to try to learn more about mindfulness, Dr. Emanuele notes there are also apps that guide you through the basics of how to practice mindfulness. Headspace and Smiling Mind are two popular ones. Smiling Mind is designed for young people so it may be a better fit for tweens.
The best way to get a little perspective is to take occasional breaks from social media. Do yoga, go for a run, spend time with friends in person, hang out in nature. Whatever it is, doing things in real life can be a big stress reliever and make you feel better about yourself in a way that scrolling through a feed never will.
Try to practice self-awareness during offline activities, too. Notice how you feel in the moment when you are being active, and note what really feels like fun to you. You might surprise yourself. And chances are you’ll find that experience is pretty addictive, too.