Many of the world’s most popular digital and video-games are played by children, from Fortnite to Minecraft. While both of these games are by and large child-friendly, kids are playing plenty of others that perhaps aren’t.
For any parent who either doesn’t know, or just isn’t interested in, gaming picking titles that might be suitable and identifying those that definitely aren’t can be a potential minefield.
To help you work out what each game is about, we’ve chosen the most popular video games at the moment and explained what they are, what type of content they contain and whether they include opportunities for your kids to spend money on extras or interact with strangers.
Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V)
What is it? Probably the most successful game in history, Grand Theft Auto V is considered a landmark in the production of video games. Its vast open-world, cinematic storyline and huge online community has turned it one of the most profitable games since its launch in September 2013.
Is it violent? Grand Theft Auto is an extremely violent game that earns its 18-rating in almost every respect. It contains scenes of regular drug use, prostitution, nudity and in one particularly harrowing scene asks the player to torture another human being.
Can you spend real money? There is an in-game currency system for GTA Online, which allows players to explore the world of Grand Theft Auto with their friends.
Can you talk to strangers? As with any video game that’s on a console there is a chat functionality, but if you’re using an Xbox One or PlayStation 4 this can be disabled by parents.
Who’s it for? Strictly 18+.
Available on: Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PC.
What is it? Roblox is essentially a vast library of mini-games that have been created by other people. It has over 60 million kids/teens playing and is available on iOS, Android and Xbox. Looking like a mix between LEGO and Minecraft this game has managed to sneak under many parents’ radars simply because not much is known about it.
Is it violent? Like any platform where the content is created by the public, there will be games that are not appropriate for children. Parents can limit the games their kids see to only those appropriate for under-13s. Sadly there are no further restrictions, however Roblox says it constantly looks for and removes games that might be inappropriate.
Can you spend real money? There is an in-game currency system where players can buy Robux using real money so again, something to consider.
Can you talk to strangers? Parents should also note the game features a chat system that can also be shut off or heavily restricted should they wish.
Who’s it for? All ages.
Available on: iOS, Android, Xbox One and PC.
What is it? You’ll be hard-pressed to find a person who hasn’t heard of Fortnite or played it. Fortnite Battle Royale has become a worldwide phenomenon thanks to its cartoon-like graphics, availability on iPhone, Xbox and PlayStation and the fact that it’s free to download. The game sees 100 players land onto the same map and then take each other on, the last player standing wins. It’s important to note that games can last anywhere from 10-40 mins and pulling someone out of mid-game can be a very jarring experience for a younger player.
Is it violent? The game contains comic violence, but no more than perhaps you would see in most kids cartoons.
Can you spend real money? The game is free to download but does contain a premium ‘Battle Pass’ that unlocks premium cosmetic items from new outfits to gliders. None of these items will make you better at Fortnite, they simply change the way you look.
Can you talk to strangers? Problems could arise from the fact the game has a chat functionality, which allows kids to talk to other players of any age. On iPhone and iPad there’s a text-based chat system that cannot be disabled.
Who is it for? 12+.
Available on: iOS, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Mac and PC.
Call of Duty: WW2
What is it? The latest in the hugely successful Call of Duty franchise, WW2 takes players back to the battlefields of the Second World War. The game features a comprehensive single-player campaign and an online multiplayer component that allows players to fight each other on maps.
Is it violent? Like any Call of Duty, this is an extremely violent game. Players will experience many scenes from the war first-hand including the D-Day landings. As such the single-player campaign contains both extreme violence and bad language. The multiplayer component again features the same level of violence and is often extremely high-intensity.
Can you spend real money? New weapons are earned by playing while new cosmetic items are earned through ‘Loot Boxes’ which contain random items. These can be bought using real money.
Can you talk to strangers? There is voice chat and without parental controls enabled on a games console players can talk freely to one another.
Who is it for? Strictly 18+.
Available on: Xbox One, PlayStation 4.
What is it? Minecraft is essentially a digital Lego box, within which anyone can explore a world, complete quests and create. The Microsoft-owned game allows any player to build anything out of the materials within the game and then share it with other players. Minecraft has been used for art installations, educational programs and even as a team building exercise. Minecraft is so popular with children because it allows them to be completely creative. A multiplayer mode also allows them to build with their friends.
Is it violent? There is no bad language within the game itself, nor is there any graphic violence.
Can you spend real money? Minecraft does have a premium currency that allows players to buy some virtual worlds. This can be policed by parents.
Can you talk to strangers? Minecraft contains worlds and experiences created by members of the public, however this is heavily policed by Microsoft. Any parent worried about their child playing online should know that the multiplayer component can be turned off through either their Xbox One or PlayStation console in the parental controls section.
Who’s it for? All ages.
Available on: iOS, Android, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC, PlayStation 4 and Mac.
What is it? PlayerUnknown’s Battleground is a direct rival to Fortnite. While it has the same premise (100 players on a single map), the game looks more realistic and contains weapons that mimic those in real-life. There is only one game mode and usually one map. As with Fortnite, games can last anywhere between 15-40 mins.
Is it violent? PlayerUnknown is a violent game that gives players access to a considerable arsenal of realistic-looking weapons.
Can you spend real money? There is an in-game currency that allows players to buy ‘keys’ which then unlock crates. Each crate contains purely cosmetic items from clothes to colourful skins for weapons.
Can you talk to strangers? There is also an in-game chat system that again can be limited by parents if you have either an Xbox One or PlayStation 4 console.
Who’s it for? 16+
Available on: iOS, Android, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.