Experts in digital safety
Since its release in 2017, Brawl Stars has consistently been one of the top games played by children of all ages, along with Roblox, Minecraft and Fortnite. And even though it doesn’t get the hours of screen time that Roblox and Minecraft rake in, kids consistently spend just over 30 minutes on the game daily, according to Qustodio data. Here’s what parents need to know about Brawl Stars to keep their children safe while playing one of the world’s most popular video game apps.
Brawl Stars ratings
According to Brawl Stars’ Terms of Service, players must be at least 13 years of age to download and play but there is no doubt that younger children are using this video game. In fact, Apple’s suggested age rating for Brawl Stars is 9+. Android rates it E10+.
Ratings aside, is Brawl Stars really safe for kids?
What is Brawl Stars?
Brawl Stars is a top-down (aerial view) gaming app created by Finnish mobile game development company Supercell, the makers of Clash of Clans and Clash Royale. In this multiplayer shooter game, “Brawlers” attack other brawlers in three-on-three, duo, solo, special and competitive events or battles. Players can select their Brawler’s distinctive attack, super (special attack), and health.
Why do kids love Brawl Stars?
Kids like the game’s cartoonish, fun animation, the colorful characters, and the quick pace of play with their friends or other Brawlers with the same skill level (though some complain the matchmaking isn’t always perfect). Kids also like that Brawl Stars is a pretty simple game to pick up and play in a mobile environment with a digital left and right joystick to easily move, aim and shoot.
Is Brawl Stars safe to play?
Brawl Stars violence
The objective of Brawl Stars is different based on which game modes – with names like Smash & Grab, Showdown, Heist, etc. – your child plays, but the core goal is simply to kill opposing brawlers, using a variety of weapons, and in so doing collect trophies. Despite the near-constant violence, the animation is cartoonish and there is no blood. The injured characters generally just grunt, or exert a funny catch phrase, and die.
Recent studies mostly absolve violent video games from leading to serious violent behavior later in life. The American Psychological Association (APA) cites other negative life factors, such as history of violence, as being much more significant indicators of violence later in life. The question parents may wish to ask themselves is if the violence in video games is a good reflection of their family’s values, and if playing hours of “shoot-em-up” is the best use of their child’s time in the long run.
Brawl Stars chats and clubs
Gaming chat rooms pose much more of a real-life threat to children than violent content. Video game chat rooms have often been referred to by the New York Times as “hunting grounds” for child predators. In Brawl Stars, these chat rooms come in the form of “Clubs”, social groups within the game that players can join to chat and join rooms to brawl together. While the chat feature is censored, it can still lead to exposure to profanity and expose your children to strangers with ill intentions.
Brawl Stars loot boxes & in-app purchases
Brawl Stars has tempting in-app purchases that are pushed to players encouraging them to spend real world money for in-game items. They help Brawlers progress faster in the game and avoid the long “grind” it would normally take. Regulators and researchers are concerned that spending money on loot boxes may be linked to gambling-related harm among children.
What can I do to keep Brawl Stars safe for my kids?
1. Turn off in-app purchases.
While having the power to purchase x, y, z accelerates the game and makes it more fun, a payment method is not required to play. Unless you have complete trust that your child can control their in-app purchases, which can run from $0.99 to $99.99 in real money (without taxes) in the U.S, and are non-refundable except in rare cases, we suggest you disable in-app purchases entirely through your mobile device’s general settings
2. Beware of any third party sites that promise enhancements for Brawl stars.
These sites may collect your personal information, money, or both, and often never deliver the promised in-game products (e.g. gems). If you allow your child to make in-app purchases, make sure it is through the game itself on your mobile device.
3. Warn your child about online predators.
Sexual predators and data thieves are increasingly finding victims in games (and on social platforms). They tend to strike up conversations designed to build up trust, eventually asking for private information or explicit photos. Make sure your child knows it is not their fault if this happens to them and that they should report it immediately to an adult they trust. Parents should then screen capture any evidence and notify both Supercell and their local police.
4. Remember that players of video games often join chats and groups outside of the Brawl Stars itself on social platforms such as Discord.
These can be more difficult to monitor. We suggest using Qustodio to block them and encourage any chatting to remain within the Brawl Stars app itself if at all.
5. Block the Brawl Stars app using Qustodio.
Should your 9-year-old play Brawl Stars? Every child is different, and you know your kids best, so we’d suggest playing the game first to help you make your decision. Through gameplay, you may decide your child is ready to play this app based on their mental maturity and digital resilience. If you think your child isn’t ready to download Brawl Stars yet, then a parental control tool like Qustodio can help your family block inappropriate apps and games on their devices.
6. Play Brawl Stars together with your child.
Qustodio always recommends spending time together with your child to get to know the apps they use. The great thing about video games is that this can be a really fun bonding activity.
7. Limit the amount of time your child spends playing video games.
Like all screen-based activities, video games are best capped, so they don’t replace much-needed time getting exercise and sleep. Video games are generally designed to be addictive – Brawlers with thousands of trophies easily spend 2 hours a day on the app – so use parental control tools like Qustodio to help prevent video game grinding (performing tasks over and over again usually for a gameplay advantage), and set consistent time limits and downtimes like total shut down one hour before bed.