The NSPCC and O2 have launched new advice for parents amid concerns over a game function that automatically allows users to speak to other players through voice and text chat functions. It means children can be contacted by anyone else who is playing the game. Users can disable voice chat in the game via the settings menu, but the text chat function cannot be turned off.
Research from NSPCC and O2, of 2,059 children and young people aged 11-18, reveals that that one in four children have been contacted online by someone they don’t know.
Laura Randall, NSPCC’s associate head of child safety online, said: “Apps, sites, and games such as Fortnite: Battle Royale can be great opportunities for young people to play and engage online. However in light of emerging concerns about the risks children could be exposed to, we are urging parents to be aware of Fortnite’s features. It’s vital parents have regular conversations with their children about the games they are playing, and how to stay safe online.”
Available on Xbox One, PS4, PC, Mac, iOS and Android the online multiplayer game has become a worldwide phenomenon since it launched a free ‘Battle Royale’ mode that allows up to 100 players fight it out ‘Hunger Games’ style until there’s just one person left.
The NSPCC and O2 are offering parents the following advice, in response to the concerns about Fortnite:
:: Talk to your child regularly about what they are doing online and how to stay safe. Let them know they can come to you or another trusted adult if they’re feeling worried or upset by anything they have seen. You can use these conversation starters to help.
:: Explore your child’s online activities together. Understand why they like using certain apps, games or websites and make sure they know what they can do to keep themselves safe.
:: Agree your own rules as a family when using sites, apps and games. You can use this Family Agreement template to help you get started.
:: Manage your technology and use the privacy and parental control settings available to keep your child safe.
Anyone looking for further online safety advice can contact the O2 NSPCC online safety helpline on 0808 800 5002.