NSPCC Campaigns Manager Emma Motherwell takes a look at the apps and sites children are using and how you can help keep them safe
Today we’re looking at probably one of the most popular games of the moment– Fortnite.
With versions available on PC, iOS, Xbox and Playstation, and an Android version of the multi-player shooter game expected in the next month or so, its popularity only looks likely to grow.
Fortnite involves 100 players fighting each other in real time to be the only survivor and win that game, which lasts around 20 minutes.
The creators have rated the game 13+ due to the cartoon violence, although iOS and PEGI rate it as 12+. There are no age verification checks when downloading the game. You have to create an account with the developer Epic Games which can be done via Google+ or Facebook.
One of the main risks is the chat feature that allows anyone in the current game to talk to other users both during a game and in the “lobby” while you wait for the game to start.
While text chat is only available in the lobby it is possible to turn off the audio chat during a game by selecting the three lines in the top right of the screen, select the settings icon, choose the ‘Audio’ tab at the top of the screen and go to the ‘Voice Chat’ option. This must be done at the start of every game but children can play solo games where they cannot chat to anyone.
Another concern is that anyone can add you on the platform if they know your username which they can pick up during multi-player games. However, should someone become abusive or inappropriate there is a reporting process that users can follow through a form on the Fortnite website.
- After selecting the Product and Game Mode, select Report Player as the Issue Type. This will make sure these reports are routed to the correct team.
- Make sure to include the player(s) full in-game name, spelled as accurately as possible!
- If it looks like the player is using unusual or uncommon characters in their in-game name, screenshots are totally acceptable documentation.
- Speaking of screenshots: screenshots and video are incredibly useful for validation. If you captured screenshots or videos of the offense, attach them. If you have links to streaming video of bad behaviour, include them!
The game does have a code of conduct for players to follow and those not following the guidelines can be booted out of the game. But the focus appears to be on cheating rather than abuse.
It’s also really important to have regular chats with your children about their online lives, try and explore apps and games together and make sure they know they can talk to you about anything inappropriate that upsets them online.
Call our Online Safety Helpline for advice an all things online safety, including setting up parental controls, on 0808 800 5002. You can also book an appointment with an NSPCC-trained O2 Guru in store for support, whether you’re an O2 customer or not.
Net Aware is available as an app or at www.net-aware.org.uk