Is Free Fire safe for kids? Let’s take a deep dive into what parents need to know about this “mobile game of the year”.
Android: PEGI 12 (shows violence of a slightly more graphic nature towards fantasy characters or non-realistic violence towards human-like characters)
Common Sense: 18+
Garena Free Fire, usually referred to as Free Fire or FF, was one of the most downloaded free-to-play video games in 2020 and voted “mobile game of the year” by Esports. If your child isn’t playing it, you may have heard about it in the press. Free fire got a lot of free coverage for rumors about it being banned in Morocco and in India (for the record, it wasn’t). And, it’s been in the news lately for banning over 1 million accounts for hacking and having to eliminate cheaters at tournaments. In this guide, we’ll let you know why there is so much fuss around Free Fire, help you decide if this game is appropriate for your child, and give you some safety tips along the way.
Qustodio’s App Safety Guide to Free Fire
What is Free Fire?
Free Fire is a free-to-play shooter game published by Singapore-based Garena, the gaming division of the internet company Sea. It is a battle royale game, which means it is an online multiplayer video game that blends survival, exploration and survival. Survival in Free Fire means you need to be “the last man standing” among 49 other players after 10 minutes of play, a feat achieved by trying to stay in your safe zone and by shooting and killing other humans.
Why do kids like Free Fire?
- It’s free
- Easy to play
- Compatible with low-end smartphones (consumes 30.6MB an hour, equal to 3 games)
- Played together with friends
- It feels like Fortnite (which became unavailable to kids on the App Store in 2020 when that game introduced a direct payment method)
Is Free Fire safe for kids?
- While not gory, Free Fire violence is realistic. There is blood and players moan in pain before falling over to die.
- Free Fire players can chat with strangers directly who may use inappropriate language or be potential sexual predators or data thieves.
- Free Fire blocks suspicious accounts, but the app remains prone to hackers who ruin games and may steal personal information.
- From the get-go, Free Fire pushes players to buy virtual currency, shop for weapons and costumes and play gambling games, via continuous ads or wrapped up as missions, the pressure to make in-app purchases is very heavy on Free Fire. Free Fire sexualizes characters, some women characters wear revealing clothing.
- Excessive play of Free Fire, as with any screen time activity that requires intense concentration, causes eye strain. (According to our analysis at the end of February 2021, the average child between 4 to 15 years old on Free Fire plays an average of 74 minutes per day!)
- Free Fire has no native parental controls.
How can I make Free Fire safer for my child or teen?
If you decide to allow your child or teen to play Free Fire we recommend the following:
- As Free Fire has no native parental controls, we strongly recommend you set screen time limits on device use. No matter which games your child is playing, you should set up the parental controls native to your child’s mobile phone and use them together with an independent parental control app such as Qustodio for maximum online safety.
- Talk to your kids about the violence they see in the app. Make sure they know the difference between real and fake violence. Ask them how it makes them feel. Does it make them feel bad? Does it give them nightmares? Block the game if you see it is causing your child any distress.
- Warn your child about online predators and sharing personal information. Games that involve chats and group play are open doors for predators. Make sure your child knows who they are playing with and doesn’t invite strangers to their friend list. Teach them about common psychological traps or techniques (called “grooming”) used by predators, such as pretending to be suffering to gain trust and sympathy before attempting to get personal information, money, photos, etc. Block the game the instant you suspect inappropriate behavior from other players.
- Warn your child about the addictive nature of freemium video games. As every adult knows, free is never free. Teach your child to avoid loot boxes, gambling games and the temptation to buy in-app purchases. And never give them access to your credit card.
- Play together. There is really no better way to understand a game than by actually playing it yourself. It’s also a great way to better understand your child’s world.
Qustodio’s final advice on Free Fire
In addition to the violence, heavy pressure to make in-app pressure, and direct chat, the Free Fire app has no native parental controls. It directs parents to use the parental control features on the child’s Android or Apple phone. And it refers to the law in terms of age limits. In other words, it does the bare minimum to protect kids. Therefore, we do not recommend you let your child or teen play Free Fire.