The NSPCC conducted a survey of children who play the online survival game ‘Fortnight’. Shockingly, their research found that 1 in 4 young players have been approached by strangers whilst using the game. The NSPCC are advising parents to turn off the voice chat system in the game to ensure children avoid inappropriate contact. But the charity warned that the main settings menu did not allow players to block text messaging. There are also concerns with the number of prompts for purchasing ‘add-ons’ within the game, with reports of children spending large amounts of money on ‘skins’ and other personalised items, to enhance their chance of winning.
Fortnite is believed to have about 45 million registered players, with up to three million playing it at the same time. It can be accessed online through their website (Mac or PC) or via the Playstation or X-Box. IOS and Android versions have also been released. The game holds a PEGI 12 rating for frequent use of mild violence; however this does not take into consideration the chat feature concerns. It is a cartoonish action game with two key versions: “Fortnite” is a single player survival game and “Fortnite – Battle Royale” is online where 100 players compete against each other until the ‘last one standing’. We have many pupils playing this game from our school and we wanted to bring to your attention some advice. The NSPCC have advised that parents should:
§ let children know they could talk to them if upset or worried by anything they had seen online
§ familiarise themselves with what their children did online and understand why they liked particular apps or games
§ agree family rules on how to use apps, sites and games
§ use privacy settings and parental controls to keep children safe