Circle’s Parent Guide to the Most Popular Video Games
All Stories

Circle’s Parent Guide to the Most Popular Video Games

Wonder what really goes on in your kid’s video games? Circle has you covered with everything you need to know about the top games.

Let’s face it: kids love video games. They’re fun, interactive, and challenging. But they can also come with a downside when overused, distancing kids from the physical activities and IRL interactions they need every day. And gaming companies don’t help as they get better and better at roping kids in with quick sessions, playful animations, and low-risk high-reward gameplay. Whether kids are playing on mobile devices or gaming consoles, they can get sucked in, fast—for what can end up being hours at a time if left unmonitored.

So do you really know what’s going on in your kid’s games? Are they safe? How many people are they playing with? Who are they playing with? And are these games possibly addictive? We took a look at the most popular games right now and broke it all down for you.

Minecraft

Available on: PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Xbox One, PlayStation4

What is it?
One of the best-selling video games of all time, Minecraft is an immersive, first-person adventure game, referred to as a “sandbox” game due to it’s open world stylings—meaning players have the freedom to go anywhere in the game’s world no matter where they start.

Why is it popular?
Minecraft’s popularity comes from its simple design that also offers a huge variety of entertainment. Players can explore the world over, build homes or fortresses, or even recreate real-life buildings, much like a digital LEGO set. The possibilities are endless and people have gone as far as to recreate real life buildings.

What do kids do in it?
Players use and craft tools to dig, mine, and harvest resources to construct buildings, or they can go exploring. While it may sound mundane, Minecraft’s richly designed worlds encourage further exploration, and the discovery of rare and valuable minerals—such as diamonds!—makes for an exciting time as characters level up and buildings expand.

Is it online?
Yes. Minecraft has a single player mode and online multiplayer. The single player option can be played offline with no Internet connection. Multiplayer features everything from large public games where anyone can join in to private sessions with friends.

What should parents watch out for in Minecraft?
As with many games, single player is usually the safest way to play, as Minecraft is a mostly peaceful game. (There are zombies, too, so if your kid is easily scared you can turn those off!) Online play is unmonitored, so if kids are allowed to go online, it’s good to make sure they understand that anyone can communicate with them and to report any inappropriate behavior, both to Minecraft support and to you as parents.

What is the recommended age to play?
Thanks to its simple setup, lack of violence, and detailed worlds, kids under 12 can play this game, but it’s recommended they play offline. Parents are advised to have a conversation about playing online before allowing their kids to play on a public server.

Is Minecraft addictive?
It’s easy to get lost for hours in Minecraft. Parents should talk with their kids and set boundaries early on, or use a tool such as Circle’s Time Limits to make sure their kids aren’t going overboard on their diamond digs.

Fortnite

Available on: PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Xbox One, PlayStation4

What is it?
Fortnite is a free-to-play sandbox “battle royale”-style third-person shooter. There are several gameplay modes for players to choose from, ranging from a you-vs-everyone mode, to teaming up with other players in teams and competing in games that play like Capture the Flag, or a more straightforward team elimination game.

Why is it popular?
Fortnite’s popularity comes from it’s fun, cartoonish style, short matches, varied maps, customizable characters, and quick reward system. Matches are easy to play in small doses, with a high replay value.

What do kids do in it?
Kids start with a simple character and weapons and compete against other players in death matches or other challenges. The game allows them to build structures during fights, which adds a layer of creativity and skill. Rewards often include new outfits, upgraded weapons, and special skills, so kids can customize their characters for an added layer of personalization.

Is it online?
Yes, it is played almost exclusively online. There are a few “offline” options in the game but they are only for training purposes. The main gameplay is experienced in public online matches.

What should parents watch out for in Fortnite?
Since Fortnite is almost exclusively online, parents should be on the lookout for potentially negative comments from other players. It’s advised to make a plan with your kids about what to do if someone is saying mean, abusive, or hurtful things, and be on the lookout for cyberbullying. Unlike many other games, Fortnite matches last about 20 minutes and cannot be “paused,” so making sure chores are done or it’s not almost dinnertime before letting them have an extra round can keep arguments at bay. Another major problem is microtransactions. Fortnite is free-to-play, but players can also make purchases to upgrade their outfits or skills, so parents may want to turn off their in-app purchase settings just in case!

What is the recommended age to play?
Due to depictions of violence, albeit cartoonish, and exposure to playing with other gamers who may be much older, it’s generally recommended not to allow kids under the age of 13 to play Fortnite.

Is Fortnite addictive?
Fortnite has many addicting aspects, such as outfit, weapon, and skill upgrades that come from long hours of “grinding” (repeatedly doing mundane tasks to gain experience). Parents should be on the lookout for signs of addictive behavior and are advised to set expectations early on. Circle’s Usage feature can also let a parent confirm if they think their kids are playing more than they say they are.

Roblox

Available on: PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Xbox One

What is it?
Roblox is an online gaming platform where players can play games designed by other users or create and share their own using in-app game development tools.

Why is it popular?
Roblox consists of user-designed games that are featured in an ever-changing list, in order of popularity. New games are constantly coming out and the gameplay itself spans simple puzzle games to murder mysteries, shooters, and much more. This constant refreshing of new content makes it the perfect contender for “Most Attention Draining Game.”

What do kids do in it?
Kids can choose from thousands of games, from every genre imaginable, with different goals, challenges, and play styles. Players are able to download Roblox’s developer tools, so they can create their own games as well—which could be a valuable tool for introducing kids to coding and game design. There is also a digital community where players buy and furnish digital homes, as well as wander around and talk to other real people in their online neighborhoods.

Is it online?
Yes, Roblox requires an online connection at all times in order to play. There is no single player option.

What should parents watch out for in Roblox?
Like with Fortnite, Roblox is free to play but also features microtransactions. Parents who let their kids play should stay vigilant for ads encouraging kids to buy “Robux,” the in-game currency, and talk with them about what that means. In-game chat systems are available but decently moderated, even going so far as to have real people reviewing messages and AI that recognizes and automatically blocks out swear words. Parents are encouraged to talk with their kids about what kind of people they may encounter online and to report any suspicious behavior.

What is the recommended age to play?
While Roblox’s primary audience is teens and preteens, anyone can play. Kids over the age of 12, with proper instruction, are fine to play it.

Is Roblox addictive?
Just like with other games, there is a risk that kids can get hooked on Roblox. Be sure they understand how much time is allowed for online games and keep an eye on how long they are playing.

PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds

Available on: PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Xbox One, PlayStation4

What is it?
Like Fortnite, PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds (aka PUBG) is a sandbox-style, winner-takes-all (kill or be killed) third-person shooter battle royale. With up to 100 players in each match arena, the goal is to outlive the competition for as long as you can, gain experience, get loot, and level up. The match is over when only one is left standing.

Why is it popular?
PUBG’s haphazard gameplay allows for a lot of variation in play styles as well as weapons, explosives, and vehicles. Kids can enjoy all the weird and crazy things that can happen, such as re-enacting action movie scenes like driving a burning car off a cliff (the crazier things get, the more fun it can be).

What do kids do in it?
As a battle royale-style game, players begin rounds by parachuting onto an island and proceed to fight everyone in the vicinity. The game’s map has zones that decrease in size over time, forcing players closer together and into fights. They can choose to form teams to help take out competition, but the only way to win is to be the last person standing. Like Fortnite, kids can completely customize their avatars from head to toe with quirky hats, shirts, pants, and so on, by finding loot or taking it from fallen enemies. PUBG matches take longer, sometimes up to 30 minutes, as players are eliminated from the game until only one remains.

Is it online?
Yes, PUBG requires an Internet connection and is entirely online, with no single player option.

What should parents watch out for in PUBG?
Out of all the games reviewed here, PUBG is by far the most violent and is the only Mature rated game on this list. Blood spatters are common and explosions occur frequently. And with up to 100 people per match, it’s nearly impossible to monitor contact between players—so anything could be said or sent in a message. And as with almost all games released these days (especially mobile games) parents should be on the lookout for the dreaded microtransactions, so their kids don’t end up accidentally buying in-game goodies with real-world cash.

What is the recommended age to play?
With its Mature rating, it’s not recommended to let kids under the age of 17 play PUBG, but where there’s a will there’s a way. Since the game deals with several adult themes, extreme violence, and focuses more on realism in design, it may be best if parents don’t allow kids to play PUBG.

Is PUBG addictive?
Much like Roblox and Fortnite, PUBG can be addictive due to its fast-paced play style and easy-to-access loot boxes. These, like Roblox’s Robux, or the similar loot boxes in Fortnite, can lead to problems if parents haven’t adequately set boundaries or talked with their kids about what to watch out for or set limits. Overall, just like other games, parents should be on the lookout for how much time kids are spending on PUBG.

Tracking time, setting limits, monitoring content, and most of all, talking with your kids and setting expectations with them can help them create a more balanced gaming experience. Circle can help you set consistent boundaries with automatic Time Limits so kids can regularly stick to the limits you set. Find out more about Circle’s parental controls features or buy one today to get started managing screen time at home with ease.


Choose your country or region