I’m sure most of you are familiar with the popular online video game Fortnite that was released as a paid-for early access title for Microsoft Windows, macOS, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on July 25, 2017, but then later decided to release it as a free game earlier this year. Just about every child in my son’s school is talking about it.
The Fortnite craze has been taking over the minds of younger gamers, some older gamers too this year. With such popularity in the game and so many children playing online, there was always going to be some problems related to safety. As always the cruel world we live in likes to take advantage of these opportunities and add some poison to the fun and happiness that online games can give to children.
I don’t think there is any harm in gaming providing it's limited and doesn’t interfere with everyday life. I like to relax and watch tv, read or listen to music in my spare time. Adults and children all need some time to do something that makes them happy if gaming is someone’s time to relax then so be it. We are all different after all and can’t all like the same things.
I’ve had a go of the online video game which is set in a dystopian world where 98% of Earth’s population suddenly disappears, living conditions become difficult, and zombie-like creatures begin to roam the Earth – the player is among the remaining 2% whose job it is to survive. Of course, I certainly wasn’t one of the remaining 2% to survive. I definitely wouldn’t have the patience to keep playing until I became the last survivor but I would have loved it many years ago when I actually had some time to practice. The video game welcomes players aged 12 and above but most of the children I know are younger than 12 that play it.
The problem with this online game and many other online games is the voice and text chats between players over the internet. Unfortunately, there are some very strange people that your children could be chatting to online. Children are vulnerable and users have already reported adults making sexual remarks to children. One way to eliminate this problem is to turn off the voice chat for your child, this will stop them being able to talk to strangers through their games.
There are lots of tools available to help keep your child safe during online play but talking to them directly is the best option. I would like to advise all parents to involve yourself in your child’s online life. Talk to them about their life online, ask your child about how they play and what they like about it. Show support and interest, if they regularly talk to you about it you will be able to check that everything they are doing online is ok and not upsetting them.
Have a try at playing a game with them, or watch them play. If you engage with the gaming environment it will help you to begin to understand what makes certain games so attractive to young people. Participating will also give you an idea of the reporting tools available within the game. Most online games allow you to report players who are behaving inappropriately. On Fortnite there is an in-game feedback tool located in the game Main Menu, you can also make a report by emailing the creators of Fortnite.
Last year I went to a PS4 event in London with my family. I picked up lots of safety tips at this event and so did my son. If you would like to find out more read here.
What do you think about online gaming? Are you for or against it? I would love to hear your thoughts.