Child playing a video game

Is Free Fire Safe for Your 10-year-old?

by Screen Time Team on 16/06/2021

Overview: Free Fire is a third-person action-adventure online multiplayer game, rated 12+ by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) and by the Apple Store. The Google Play store rates it as 17+. It may be fine for players as young as ten, but some parents may find it problematic.

What Is Free Fire?

Free Fire, also called Garena Free Fire, is somewhat similar to Fortnite in that it has a third-person perspective and is an online multiplayer game where up to fifty players compete against each other to win prizes. Players parachute onto an island in the game, collect weapons and powerups, and attempt to eliminate each other.

Despite the colorful graphics and designs that you might see in the game’s promotional materials, Free Fire is aimed at a slightly older audience than similar games. While there’s no blood per se, there is some gory imagery, such as a smashed skull on a red splotch when you eliminate another player, or injured players crawling away from a conflict clutching their midsections, and it does involve the use of firearms.

Free Fire isn’t terribly realistic, resembling the tone and style of an over-the-top PG-13 action movie to some degree. It’s playable on Android and iOS.

Is Free Fire Safe For Kids?

Child playing a video game with a tablet.

The usual caveats with online games apply: Cyberbullying is always a problem, and kids may find themselves interacting with much older players who may not realize they’re playing with somebody who’s still in grade school. There are in-app tools to report inappropriate behavior, and the company also monitors its social media accounts for support requests and complaints.

Kids under 13 aren’t technically allowed to sign up for Free Fire without their parents’ permission, a rule that extends until they reach the age of majority in their jurisdiction. Parents can contact the company to cancel an account and turn off the game, but you have to know it’s being played first.

Another potential point of concern is the game has an open chat as well as “team” chat where only those added to a friends list can talk to the player. The company behind the game generally recommends parents configure their child’s device or add third-party parental control software to keep kids from registering without their knowledge.

Finally, the game stays afloat with in-app purchases, which some parents may not approve of regardless of content. 

In short, Free Fire has many of the same concerns of most online games. Parents should play it first to get a sense of it and the culture around it to decide whether they want their kids in contact with it. If not, using parental control software to block the game and any in-app purchases is probably advised, at least until kids get older.

As kids get access to more complex tools and phones, the pressures on parents will only increase. To learn how Screen Time can help manage game time and help you see that your kids use their screen time wisely, try it for free!

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