Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Tech | Are Your Children Staying Safe Online - Fortnite

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Everyone has heard of Fortnite, the online multiplayer shooter phenomenon that even allows players to play across different consoles in the same game. Maybe your child is playing Fortnite right now, do you know who they are playing with, what they are hearing or being told, the ages of the people they are playing with?  Probably not - in fact I would say definitely not. After all the Battle Royale game is based on 100 people online together on one map, playing in teams or alone - and these 100 people could be from anywhere in the world.

Fortnite is very popular here. Both big and little J love the game, and I also play from time to time. We have spent plenty of money on the games virtual currency V-Bucks, which allows the purchase of visual upgrades to your characters skin, glider, pickaxe and of course allows you to buy the famous dances which are fast taking over the world. So although we are fully aware of the online risk, we are prepared to manage that risk, because we understand it, and know which options and settings are safest for little ones.

However, this morning we found that Little J was in a game, on a team with two other small children and one Eighteen year old man who seemed quite happy chatting away to three five or six year olds. I am not saying there was anything wrong with that as it stands, however the risk is always there. We dont know who he is, where he is from or why he wants to chat to young children, but we decided to end the game there and move to another setting.  What would you have done?

So below is a guide to the 'safest' settings on Fortnite for your children, and whilst there will still always be online risk, you can help to eliminate that risk by using the guide.

Options Within Battle Royale

Battle Royale has a constantly changing set of modes, with different game objectives and ways to play, however they all share some fundamental underlying online options that are customisable within the mode.

Solo Mode 
This is as it sounds, you play alone within the game and are playing against 99 other players.  Here, you can choose whether your gamertag is displayed or not, and you can choose to be in a 'party' with other gamers or not. The 'party' connects gamers using mic's connected to a headset or the controller so that they can talk about the game.

Here, the safest online options are to hide your gamertag and not connect to any party. This will increase the chance of remaining anonymous within the game.

Other Game Modes 
Here you can see some of the other available game modes at the time of writing. Food Fight and Disco Domination are new game modes, with the same idea of having a number of players online together. Within these modes players can join a squad of other players to make up a team, usually either teams of four or fifty.

The important thing to notice about the options within both modes is just above the accept box when you start the game. There are options that say either Fill, or Don't Fill.

The Fill option will put you in a team and connect you directly to those players in the team. So whether you have a mic connected or not, you can hear what the other players are saying though the TV or your headphones.  In addition if you are mic connected then they can hear and talk to you.

The Safest option here is to make sure that Don't Fill is selected - this will reduce the chance of being connected to other gamers and should mean you can remain anonymous online.

We have always been careful to monitor who both Little J and Big J are connected to when playing online, whether they are playing Fortnite or any other game. Online safety is becoming more and more topical by the day as more people have access to devices, and more people are choosing to spend time online rather than go out.

Do your little ones play Fortnite? If you have any other online safety tips, please let us know.

John
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18 comments

  1. I don't have children of my own yet but I will be making sure they stay safe online when they start using the internet.

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  2. This really worries me for the future. At the moment ours don’t have any devices of any sort but it’s something ill eventually have to tackle when they do

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  3. This is a really great guide. We don't allow Jack to go online/chat to anyone unless he is playing with his Dad so his Dad can monitor him at all times.

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  4. my 13 year old son is always on fortnite. He often talks to players of all ages. I don't mind, as he knows about online safety has I have been drilling it through him for years.

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  5. I have heard of Fortnite, although I don't know much about it. Keeping safe online is of paramount importance and something that already worries me with my daughters, even though they are 3 and 1 years old!

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  6. Our kids play this at home, but we've got it set up so that they only play with their real life classmates on line. Gives us peace of mind!

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  7. I've heard quite a few bad things about Fortnite, so like you I would make sure my kids were closely monitored if they did play it.
    Fab tips to stay safe! :)

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  8. Great post and so important. It does worry me children playing these games without supervision and on line. Mine aren't old enough yet!

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  9. Thankfully, this is one game that we don't have. But we do control what our daughter does go on. She doesnt have a FB page or Instagram. Although that will be imminent when she turns 13. ugh. Luckily the apple devices are linked and we can see what she is playing on. She doesn't know about browser histories YET!

    John M

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  10. Not heard of Fortnite before but it’s so important to ensure our children are safe as they go online weather to learn or play games

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  11. My nine year old nephew is obsessed with Fornite! I’ll show this post to his mum as I don’t think she’s aware that he can play and chat with literally anyone. It’s so important to keep our kids safe online xx

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  12. My son plays Fortnite, but he does stay safe online - we don't let me play it otherwise! And his chat etc are monitored randomly - so he knows to only play with his friends from school or family, etc.

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  13. I've heard of Fortnite before, but I didn't actually know what the game was about. I'm kinda glad I said no now when the kids asked for it!

    Louise x

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  14. I would have ended the game as well. We’ve been through all of this with our now 19yo who was very open to who he was chatting to and we didn’t seem to have any issues. Our daughter who is 8yo isn’t as savvy so we like to keep an eye on what she’s doing x

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  15. My son lives and breathes fortnite. it's taken over our house. It's so important to know about what games our children are playing so we can make sure they are being safe online.

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  16. This worries me for when my little ones are older. I know tech changes so quickly!

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  17. I have never heard of this game but sounds like something that boys would really love. I'll have to check this first before letting them know :)

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  18. My son plays fortnite but has to play in the lounge so we can supervise him

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Thanks for your comments. I love reading them :)

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