The NSPCC and O2 have launched new advice for parents of young people playing the multiplayer action survival game Fortnite: Battle Royale.
It comes amid concerns over a function in Fortnite which 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 setting menu, but the text chat function cannot be turned off. Research from NSPCC and O2 this week reveals that that one in four children have been contacted online by someone they don’t know. The research is based on reviews by children and parents of the most popular apps, sites and games currently on the market, featured on the Net Aware app and website.
Today’s Net Aware advice on Fortnite warns parents the game features cartoon violence, where players can use a variety of weapons, such as guns and axes, to kill other players, despite being rated as suitable for players aged 12+ by The App Store.
ABOUT FORTNITE: BATTLE ROYALE
Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite: Battle Royale, says it does not direct the game to children under the age of 13 in the UK.
The PEGI rating for Fortnite: Battle Royale is 12-years-old. However, PEGI does not take chat features into consideration when rating games. You can find out more about age ratings here.
The App Store says that users must be 12+ to play.
Players can add friends in the mobile game if they have an account with Epic, the game’s developer. Friends can be added by username in the game’s main menu.
There is a chat feature in the game that allows users to contact each other using voice or text. You can disable voice chat in the game by selecting the 3 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, where you can select ‘Off’.
There is cartoon violence in the game. You can use a variety of weapons to kill other players, such as guns and axes.
There are in-app purchases, which can become expensive.
Players can be reported to the Player Support team if you are concerned about activity or behaviour.
The NSPCC and O2 are offering parents the following advice:
- 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. Read more on this here
- 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 the 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.
Neil Anderson, Head of NSPCC Northern Ireland, 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.
“Anyone looking for further online safety advice can contact the O2 NSPCC online safety helpline on 0808 800 5002 or pop into an O2 store where an O2 Guru can help.”
The Net Aware app can be downloaded for free from the App Store or Google Play. It can also be accessed online at www.net-aware.org.uk