EVERY TIME we visit a school we ask the students 'what do you do online?', without fail we hear "I play Roblox". Targeted to young digital users (13 and under) Roblox is a maker style, collaborative online game platform available on Smartphones, PC, tablets and Xbox. The true appeal of Roblox is not fancy graphics. It is the vast nature of how users can play, explore and create with freedom. Players can enjoy the challenge of navigating mazes and obstacles and simulating real life role play. Roblox allows its own users to create and generate their own games with their online game creation tool and have these published on the site for other Roblox users to play. Young users of Roblox have reported that sometimes these games are scary or have violent themes. They often share insights that they regularly play with people they do not know. Like all online games today, there are features that parents/guardians must be aware of, as well as some safety features within the settings that can protect young Roblox players.
The core purpose of Roblox is for players to roam, interact and make friends with other users. This is done by exploring the online world and talking with other players within the chat feature. Similar to any online multiplayer game, there is little control over the types of people or age limits of those playing the game. You do have the ability to delete friends by clicking on the friends menu, and the selecting the profile of the “friend” you want to “de-friend”. Form here you select “Unfriend” from their profile top right. You can restrict online interactions with different players via the Roblox website.
- Why should we only play with people we know?
- How can you tell if someone is real or a scam bot?
- What do you do when an unknown user talks to you?
User Generated Content/Games
Players of Roblox can make games for other players to enjoy. This is one of the creative and educational features within of the game. The user created games themselves aren't classified or rated because they aren't apart of the original download. If your children are playing user created games within Roblox, parents need to take additional care. There are some Roblox user generated games that do include intentionally horror themes and violence.
- What games are you playing on Roblox?
- How do you know if these games are created by Roblox or other users?
- Have you ever felt scared or worried when playing Roblox - what can you do to make yourself feel safe?
Roblox Parental Control Settings:
Roblox provide some very comprehensive parental control settings on the Roblox website along with explicit guidance for parents. https://corp.roblox.com/parents/. A necessary setting that we highly recommend is to set your child’s accounts with the accurate year of birth to ensure appropriate safe-chat mode is activated. Safe-chat mode will be automatically applied for users that are under 13 and which will restrict chat to only those who are 'approved friends'. Please note, specifying the age of your child does not filter the content within games. All player can access all games within Roblox.
The Roblox Parental Control Settings are also provided the option for a 'Parent Login' which allows you to oversee the use of your child's Roblox account. To restrict the list of games to a limited list created by the staff at Roblox staff as follows:
- Why do you think we (Parent's) need to set up these settings on your game?
- Who would you tell if some was going wrong, you feel unsafe or unhappy during or after playing online games?
- How can YOU stay safe when you are playing?
All 'chat' on Roblox is filtered to prevent inappropriate content and personally identifiable information from being visible on the site. Players will have different safety settings and experiences on Roblox, based on the year of birth set on the account. Players aged 12 and younger do have their posts and chats filtered for inappropriate content and behaviour to prevent personal information from being posted. However, players aged 13 and older have the ability to say more words and phrases than younger players, but inappropriate chat and sharing personal information is restricted regardless of age. This filtering system covers all areas of communication on Roblox, public and private. While these in game chat filters do monitor and block inappropriate language from appearing players are using creatives way to bypass such filters.
- Who do you chat to on Roblox?
- How can you tell that it's really your friend?
- What shouldn't you ever say or tell when chatting online?
In App Purchasing & Advertising
Like so many popular games, Roblox is free to play for the most part. However a users can upgrade their characters allow special clothing, weapons and gear that be purchased via Robuxs. This requires real money and children are very keen to use these to 'look' cool or gain advantage within some of the games. The items are advertised in the game directly as well as on the Roblox website. It’s important, therefore, that you have passwords on any credit cards associated with the game account.
- What are the dangers of providing credit card details online?
- How do we decide the difference between needs and wants?
- Do you need to spend money in this game to still have fun?
Should I allow my child to play Roblox?
Like any online game there are degrees of concern in how young users may encounter strangers. The above measures do minimise the risk, however the best insight into the game play and potential dangers. To truly understand Roblox or any online game they show interest in playing, is to play it first yourself. We also recommend to set up the account profile with your child, set boundaries within game play and utilises the Parental Controls for what they are designed for. Modelling to them that managing our settings and using filtering systems on any online platform is a core lesson of digital citizenship, and who better than you to model this to them.
Our final tips for Parent whose children are playing, or show interest in playing Roblox is to:
The power is in your hands with safety features just a few clicks away! All social media sites, gaming platforms/consoles and streaming services provide filters and controls to put privacy and safety measures in your hands, you just need to know what to look out for...
We have compiled some steps for how to set the privacy settings on some of the larger (current) gaming and social networking platforms. We strongly recommend investing in ten minutes to review the settings and controls with your children to teach them about this safe practice and digital life skill. While this list is not exhaustive, user settings are part of every app or platform, where you will always find controls and filters to put the power of privacy back in your hands.
Snap Maps and Ghost Mode:
There is a trend amongst young people to openly share their location. Snapchat being one of the most popular platforms features such as Snap Maps publishes your exact location on a map every time you actively use the app. To avoid sharing your location Ghost Mode (found in settings) will need to be turned on hiding your location from your “friends”.
How to urn on Ghost Mode:
1. Open the Snapchat camera screen.
2. Use your finger to SWIPE down, this will open Snap Maps .
3. In the top right hand corner select the Settings Wheel (with the ghost on it).
4. Set your preference for ‘Who Can See Me’ and set this to Only Me (Ghost Mode). This will switch on the Ghost Mode setting.
Whilst in settings, you might want to also review what personal information has been provided, who you allow to contact you and customising the notifications feature.
Automatically hide offensive comments:
When this feature is turned on inappropriate, offensive or bullying comments that users may receive are automatically filtered out from posts, stories and live videos:
1. Go to your profile
2. Select Settings.
3. Select Privacy and Security.
4. Tap Comment Controls.
5. Tap next to Hide Offensive Comments to turn it on.
Once the offensive comment filter is turned on, you can also turn on a keyword filter to hide comments that contain specific words, phrases and even emojis that you don’t want seen. You can include any terms that you know your child may be being called or targeted with.
1. Go to your profile
2. Tap Settings.
3. Tap Privacy and Security.
4. Tap Comment Controls.
5. Make sure that Hide Offensive Comments is turned on.
6. Tap next to Manual Filter to turn it on.
7. Add any terms or phrase you wish to be filtered out.
Gaming Profile/Account are often overlooked as social networking. With many of todays games providing users with the ability to work in team and openly communicate. Users are able to connect and add other users granting access to their statistics and information provided.
Embedded within the privacy settings and the initial account set up on these consoles it is important to accurately enter your child's year of birth as this automatically sets appropriate age restrictions for this age group. Through these settings you are able to choose the apps your child can access, set time limits, control purchases and who can communicate with them during game play. Here are some recommended actions for Xbox ONE and PlayStation 4 to add a layer of security and peace of mind.
How to Set up a CHILD account on:
1. Sign in or create an adult account.
2. Go to Settings > Parental Controls/Family Management > Family Management > Add > Family Member > Create User.
3. You’ll need a Sony Entertainment network account for them. Adding the date of birth will indicate it's a child account.
1. Sign in or create an adult account.
2. Select Settings > Family > Add to family > Add New.
3. You will need a free Microsoft account.
4. Choose from Child or Teen for the account type (different restriction exist depending on which one you select). Here you will also be turn on parental controls. These can easily be changed later.
A common feature of online gaming is the ability for strangers to communicate through multiplayer online games. Use the settings within these consoles to ensure that your children aren’t talking to strangers while they play games:
1. Go to Settings > Parental Controls/Family Management > Family Management.
2. Select the child’s account.
3. Select Applications/Devices/Network Features.
4. Under 'Network Features' you can stop them communicating with or viewing content created by other players.
1. Go to Settings > All Settings > Account > Family and choose the child’s account
2. Select Privacy & Online Safety. Here you can alter who can see your child when they’re online (no-one, friends and everyone) and whether they communicate by voice and text with them.
Regardless of the application, game or profile the power is in your hands. Whilst gaming and social networking platforms will not always promote their safety features as default, accessing the settings enable you to review how your information is used and gives you the power to decide ways other users can interact with you. Investing a few minutes of your time to work with your child to set things up right from the start is a powerful teachable moment that will assist with keeping them safer online.
TELLOYMN joins a growing family of anonymous messaging applications including Sarahah, Ask.FM and Line. These platforms have evolved into an online environment rife with insults, inappropriate content and regular online bullying.
Why are anonymous messenger apps so popular among teenagers? They are forums which conceal the users identity and location and enable #TBH (to be honest) commenting. TELLONYM encourages users to "answer anonymous questions and ask others the things you have never dared before" making it appealing for curious teens seeking social acceptance and an opportunity to ask embarrassing questions among their peer groups.
To create an account, users are required to provide an email address or a phone contact, as well as acknowledge that they are 17 years old or under. A simple YES or NO response is required with no age verification process. TELLONYM encourages users to link their Snapchat and Instagram profiles, and like these platforms, encourages users to connect and build a following. Anyone can ask you a question and when you respond this becomes public on your profile for all who view your profile to see. It is common to witness negative or inappropriate questioning with replies/responses tending to being defensive, aggressive or offensive in nature.
The online anonymity that is present within TELLONYM is cultivating a negative, cruel and hurtful culture among online groups of young users. While users have the ability to block and report harmful behaviour, this will only ever take place after the damaging or bullying behaviour has occurred.
We recommend using the following points to stimulate a discussion with your own children or students in your class that highlight key issues surrounding TELLONYM and similar anonymous messaging applications:
It has been just over three weeks since Apex Legends was released and has already been touted as the first legitimate competition to the juggernaut that is Fortnite. Apex Legends rapid rise in the gaming world has been expeditious. To put things in perceptive, in it's first two weeks Fortnite had 10 million downloads, while Apex Legends had 25 million in its first week! If your child isn’t talking about (and wanting to play Apex Legends) it is only a matter of time. So here is what you need to know.
Apex Legends is currently available on PS4, Xbox ONE and PC. It is a multiplayer ‘Battle style' game similar to the format of Fortnite. Twenty squads (teams of three players) are dropped into a map of an island, where they begin a battle to be the ‘last man standing’. Players search for supplies, ammunition and explosives to shoot and kill whilst the playing area continues to get decrease in size. The Australian Classification Standards have Apex Legends rated as MA 15+, legally restricting this game to persons 15 years and older, with reference to strong violence and graphic representation of harm. Like any media platform, this is something that should not be overlooked. While Fortnite, has often be defended against being a 'violent' game with no blood featured and cartoonish gameplay, Apex Legends includes blood spatters, stabbing and greater realistic violence. We strongly advise parents to view video content or play to game to establish how they feel about their children accessing this form of media.
Given the increase in popularity of these styles of online games, there are two key factors that make this game so appealing. The influence of obsessive behaviour to constantly play games and the social element of connecting with friends (or complete strangers) through game collaboration and communication features.
These styles of games have addictive tendencies through the short time investment in each game (around 15 -20 minutes) and operant conditioning which exists through the randomisation of being rewarded when searching and finding helpful weapons and ammunition. It is these triggers that can make it hard for any person to self-regulate their game play and falling into a vortex of playing “just one more” game. Like something sweet, the colours, sounds and reward systems within both Fortnite and Apex Legends provide young (and older) players stimulus that encourages returning to the game to fulfil a craving.
Apex Legends, promotes collaborative game with players taking part in teams of three. Unless the user has two other 'friends' that they know with the same gaming console (PS4, Xbox ONE or PC), they will be paired to play with people they don't know. With the ability to communicate both verbally (audio headsets) this does mean there is the risk that users will be exposed to inappropriate language and strangers. If users are playing people with strangers, there is the ability to mute them during game play and should be encouraged.
Whether your children are play Apex Legends, Fortnite, FIFA or Solitaire, there are always things you should know and talk about when playing online games.
Here are our TOP TIPS for parents whose children play online games:
The new year brings new apps growing in popularity among kids, tweens and teens. Instagram and Snapchat are still undoubtedly incredibly popular amongst teens and young people today. However, there are new additions on our watch list appearing in the App Store under the Social Media banner with features including video-sharing, streaming, direct messaging and the ability to connect with strangers. If your children or family members are using connected technology it is so important to know the potentially dangerous and risky features that exist within the applications they use. Knowing the ins and outs will help you as a parent make informed decisions as to whether this space is somewhere you are happy for your children to engage in.
Tech gadgets are undoubtedly among the most popular gifts landing under Christmas trees around the world this year. With all of these tech gadgets requiring connectivity to apps, platforms and cloud services we must plan to protect young digital users by putting proactive measures in place to keep them safe. If drones, VR headsets, gaming consoles and smart phones/devices are on your youngster's wish list, it's important to get on the front foot when it comes to tech gift cyber safety.
PLAN, PROTECT & PREVENT
Most 'smart' tech based gifts require alignment and connection with a mobile phone or tablet App/Application. All of which will require users to create a User Profile and agree to the company's terms of service. Every App has its own set of service policies. We understand terms and conditions can be wordy and long and it is natural to want to move on quickly to the fun stuff. When scanning terms and conditions we recommend looking out for the following key elements:
TIP: Establishing an open and trusting relationship with your children about their digital habits enables you to have greater insight into their online behaviours and opportunities to prevent issues from occurring. A child or teen is less likely to go to a parent if they believe they will banned from future use of a device, game or platform... So be strategic in how you respond when a child does come to you with a challenge or problem. Planning, prevention and protection are a critical combination for ensuring this trust between guardians and children is developed and maintained.
When creating online profiles we recommend you:
Popular Tech Gadget Gifts this year:
Amongst other things, drones can take in some awesome views and share these directly to your smartphone as an image or video. With their long range GPS, WiFi connection and built in cameras, professional (and amateur) photographers are now hitting the skies to take some incredibly creative photos.
Drones are becoming social!
Like most technologies and interest groups, social networking has now become a big player in the drone game. When you connect your Drone to its associated mobile/tablet app, it may also connect you to the SkyPixel. A social networking platform for drone photography enthusiasts. You can upload your flight videos and photos for other SkyPixel members to like and comment. They can become your fan, follow you and send direct messages.
Be wary of location settings!
Like many Drones and associated Apps, The GPS features is a critical element of this technology. With location services turned on, your drone will be able to 'return to home base'. This is a great feature if you're a rookie drone pilot and lose track of your drone mid-flight, however this raises alarm bells for the Cyber Safety Project team when it comes to younger users of this technology - especially when connecting their profile to SkyPixel where users of all ages from around the world can connect with them.
2. Virtual Reality (VR) Headsets
VR Headsets fall into two categories, Mobile or Tethered. Tethered VR headsets connect to a device such as a PC or gaming console. Whilst, mobile headsets generally require the use of a smart phone with app connectivity to enjoy the immersive nature of Virtual Reality. As soon as you are required to download an App for immersive VR gaming or simulations you will be required to 'sign up' to the platform. In this case you must be aware of the games and apps your children are downloading, accessing and what information they may be inputting into this platform to gain access to the game or App. As each game or App has it's own set of terms, features and capabilities the Plan, Protect and Prevent strategy must be put in place.
PROTECT: Monitor the use of these immersive games and check for adult themes and levels of violence.
PREVENT: Set up a safe profile and review the settings to explore what you can control.
3. Gaming Consoles
Create Safe Console Accounts:
Stay in control by accessing the game consoles built in parent controls. These enable parents to decide what content their children can access and which functions that they are able to use.
Disable in Game Purchases:
We have all heard of the credit card horror stories of young children accidently (or in some cases, knowingly) wracking up a hefty credit card bill through in-app/game purchases. After all, who doesn't want some more 'hay' in that farming app at the click of a button, or to upgrade your avatar skin to obtain additional status in your game?
Two key recommendations are:
Understand Online Collaboration Features:
Connecting with strangers online doesn't just happen on Social Media platforms, the gaming world is hyperconnected and highly collaborative. If your children play gaming consoles there is no doubt that they will have access to games that allow them to play, chat and even stream live video with other connected players from all over the world.
Set game play limits and life balance:
Earlier this year, the World Health Organisation officially recognised gaming addiction as a mental health condition. Similar to gambling mechanisms, popular games such as Fortnite make use of bright colours, sounds and reward systems design to keep players within the game. This method is called operant conditioning, where high level rewards occur randomly encouraging players to 'just play one more round' with the chance of a big reward. Not all children will become addicted to gaming, however according to our 2018 Digital Habits Survey, 83% of parents do worry about time spend on gaming and find it challenging to manage screen time and game play. A few things to consider when managing game play and strategies to assist your children with building skills to self-regulate for a healthier balance of daily activity:
4. Smart Phones
Mobile devices including Smart Phones and tablets are the portal to Social Networking and web browsing whereby young children have access to the world in their pocket. If a mobile phone or connected tablet is on this years present list here are some important steps you'll need to take to get it right from the start.
Disable Device Location Settings:
Discuss Posting Protocols:
Access Parental Controls: Here at the Cyber Safety Project we are all for educating young people with safe practices and understanding the importance of safety precautions. There are however some great technologies available to parents to provide peace of mind when it comes to device use and monitoring what they children are exposed to. You may wish to explore software tools such as Family Zone or the new inbuild Family Monitoring features on the latest iOS update (for iPhone).
"There's nothin' on telly!" Remember that time? Kids... you won't! But back in the good ol' days your parents had to find something else to do, like ride their bike, read a book or play with their siblings, whilst they waited for their favourite TV show to be aired. We're not talking just minutes here either! It could have been hours, sometimes even days! So just spare a thought when you have to wait 30 seconds for your show to load or buffer.
With Netflix and other streaming services now making it simple for young children to watch their favourite (and potentially unfavourable) episodes on demand we are now faced with yet another challenge of managing what, how, when and where children can get their hands on adult themed content. At first glance these animated series may look innocent enough, however, be warned they are not designed for children. Here we list three Netflix original animated series gaining popularity with Australian audiences... AND likely to be topics of playground chatter at a school near you!
1. BIG MOUTH
Big Mouth is an animation centred around a humorous view upon the modern adolescent. This series characterises a group of teens who are obsessed with sex and exploration of their genitalia and sexualities. Whilst much of this content is relatable and humorous to a mature audience you would be mortified to find your younger children exposed to the mature themes, animated nudity and sexual behaviours, drug and alcohol references and highly explicit language.
What makes this so inappropriate? Animated nudity, sexual references, explicit language and jokes referencing drugs and alcohol
2. BOJACK HORSEMAN
Bojack Horseman is an animated series set in an alternate world, where humans and anthropomorphic animals live side by side. Bojack Horseman plans his big return to celebrity relevance through writing a tell-all autobiography about his life post his starring in a 1990's sitcom Horsin' Around. Alongside having a satirical take on current events, politics, and show business, BoJack Horseman underlying themes focus on dealing with depression, trauma, addiction and self-destructive behaviour.
What makes this so inappropriate? Substance abuse, violence, explicate language and adult themes.
Castlevania is an adaptation of a classic video game about vampire hunters with the main objective of killing and destroying enemies. There nature of this show is violent with regular, excessive and dramatised fight scenes that result in bloody deaths.
What makes this so inappropriate? Excessive and brutal violence, blood and gore.
Managing your children's access to Netflix
Take advantage of parent controls in Netflix and ensure the following Netflix original Cartoon series too crass for kids are added to your Restricted Titles within the Netflix Parental Control settings.
We now live in an instant access society where streaming services such as Netflix are making the consumption of popular TV shows, series, movies and documentaries easier and faster than ever before. For parents, managing screen time, binge watching and filtering age appropriate content, Netflix is yet another online service to battle. The good news is there are Parental Controls within Netflix settings that can dramatically reduce the risk of your children accessing Netflix content that could be too crass for kids.
Like most online platforms or apps, spending a few moments within the app settings can protect your children from exposure to inappropriate content and allow you to take control. Within Netflix Parental Controls you will find two settings that the Cyber Safety Project recommend setting up for your family. Both the 'Restrict by Maturity Level' and 'Restrict Specific Titles' allows you to take control over what you children can search and consume and seconds to set up.
OPTION 1: Create a 'Kids Profile' for your children to access
For younger children, setting up a 'Kids' profile on Netflix will provide the piece of mind that only content based on the regulated age restricted content will be made available and targeted at their maturity level. You can select this level of access and update it as your children come of age.
How to set up a 'Kids Profile':
1. Click 'Add profile'
2. Name your profile and select 'Kid?' to add the filter of only TV shows & movies for kids 12 and under that will be made available for viewing within this profile.
3. Choose the level of restrictions you would like to apply for this profile
OPTION 2: Add Parental Controls & Filters on standard Netflix profiles.
Add a Parental Control Pin:
You can set restrictions for the titles that young people in your household can access by setting a Parental Control Pin. This can be used to restrict the playback of certain content based on Maturity Level or by Specific Titles. The pin you set will appear when content over the certain maturity level.
Place restrictions of specific titles:
If you do not want specific titles appearing within the service, you can have these hidden from the library by entering the name of the show or movie you do not wish your children to view.
1. Select the profile you wish to add parental controls to and navigate to SETTINGS:
2. Create a PIN. (do not share with your children).
3. Search for titles you wish to restrict
There are a number of titles within the Netflix streaming service that are not designed for little eyes and ears. A popular original Netflix series such as 13 Reasons Why, know for being graphic and mature in nature with it's extreme view on teen life and sensationalised depiction of suicide, has been deemed by 'The National Association of School Psychologists' as highly inappropriate for vulnerable youth. There are also a number original Netflix Cartoons too crass for kids that should be on your Restrict List.
The new iOS 12 software update on Apple devices includes some easy to uses features that are already being praised by parents and families who use iOS devices. Each of the new additions to this update including Screen Time, Downtime and App Limit provide users with greater control around how much time you spend on your phone or device and more importantly provides users with the tools to help minimise and control the desire to be always connected. This blog will help you set up and understand each of these new and exciting features.
Once you have updated to iOS 12, within the Settings section of your device there will be a new section called Screen Time. On opening Screen Time for the first time you will be prompted to Turn on Screen Time. Once the feature is turned on you'll find a breakdown that shows just how much time you're spending on all iOS devices linked to the same iCloud account.
Screen Time breaks down usage for the current day, as well as the past 7 days. An alert will be received by the user that provides with a weekly report from the previous week that breaks down how much screen time has been spent on each device and within which applications.
Screen Time even provides users with an accurate account of how often a device or phone is being pick up, which apps you used the most after picking up your phone, and how many notifications you receive from apps. All great stimulus to have authentic and data driven conversations about digital uses within your family around how you and your children are using devices.
The Downtime feature provides parents with far greater control over when your child can access their favourite applications and can also help parents address negative habits you might be witnessing in your child’s digital behaviour, like scrolling through Instagram late at night. Downtime is a time-based setting and is easy to set up and operate.
To start, open the Settings app and select Screen Time. Within this menu page there is a clearly labelled option called Downtime. Downtime can set a scheduled time at which the device essentially locks itself down, restricting access to all but a handful of apps such as Phone, Messages, and FaceTime. If you want to use Downtime, but need access to more than just Phone, Messages and FaceTime, you can pick which apps you'll be able to use in Screen Time -----> Always allowed.
The ability to activate Downtime at bedtime is an opportune and simple way to force yourself and family members to stop checking Snapchat, Facebook, WhatsApp and countless more apps.
The information that the Screen Time features provides through the insights and weekly usage report reveals a great deal of information to users and can be useful to parents to gage how family members are engaging with their device. App Limits allows users and controllers of the family account to set limits for themselves and their family members for app categories or specific apps on a 24-hour basis. To set this up and start setting limits you will need to select the individual breakdown screen, select Add Limit at the bottom of the page, then set the selected time. This can be customised based on day of the week and is a great setting if you want to make quick and immediate adjustments to particular limits. As the set time limit approaches an alert is received by the users to remind them that their time limit is nearly up. Once the time is up, the app will lock you out (and give you the option to approve more time, should you absolutely need to use the app).
All these tools with the iOS 12 updates when used effectively provide information to promote and encourage responsible digital use and screen time. The Cyber Safety Project believe that the detailed information and insight data provided through these Screen Time features will create a great conversation and learning opportunity for the entire family. It is this information that will drive discussions between parents and children about what the appropriate amount of screen time is, why limits around particular categories might need to be put in place, what behaviours the weekly report is showing in how family members are using their device and of course why there is a need for downtime away from device.
If you have any questions about using or utilising these features within the iOS 12 update please feel free to get in contact with the Cyber Safety Project.
The craze that is Fortnite: Battle Royale has hit an all-time high during recent months. Released in September 2017, its frenzy and popularity has many parents asking plenty of questions. With school holidays being upon us, it was the perfect fortnight to immerse ourselves in the game Fortnite and learn as much as we could. This blog entry will answer the 3 most common questions, the Cyber Safety Project is being asked by parents about Fortnite and provide some easy to implement tips within your household.
Is there a difference between Fortnite and Fortnite: Battle Royale?
Yes, yes there is! Fortnite is a solo version called Save the World and the massively popular multiplayer version is called Fortnite: Battle Royale. If your kids are asking to play “Fortnite” they're most likely wanting to play Fortnite: Battle Royale version.
The quick summary is that Fortnite: Battle Royale sees up to 100 people participate in a single match together. Players parachute from a party bus onto an island, where they must collect weapons, build structures; all while trying to avoid being killed by other players. While this is going on, a randomly chosen safe zone and moving storm reduces the playing areas within the island and keeps the game moving. All this takes place so that players can ultimately be the last one standing and have “#1 Victory Royale” plastered across the players screen.
Players then quickly reset another match, parachute out of the Party Bus and do it all again and again and again.
Why is my child so interested in playing Fortnite and is it appropriate?
There are many reasons why Fortnite has taken off with children. One is that it combines two extremely popular genres that young children have enjoyed in past - building and survival.
Fortnite allows users to play with friends in Duos and Squads, creating a more social element. Children love the fact that they play with their friends! There are also opportunities to view and watch others playing the game (friends, celebrities, top players) on secondary platforms such as Twitch and YouTube. This again proves challenging with increased screen time in doing so.
For some parents, the cartoonish style of game play and bloodless action within Fortnite and Fortnite: Battle Royale makes the violence seem less problematic; yet there is consistent, encouraged and regular violence throughout every game.
Fortnite: Battle Royale does include live, unfiltered chat between users in the console and PC versions. The voice chat and on-screen text chat are options. Given the average age of a Fortnite: Battle Royale users are men between the age of 18 - 24 years old male, unfortunately this means that users are likely to be exposed to profanity as well as people that they don’t know.
The chat feature can be switched off and is certainly encouraged, if your child is playing collaboratively. In answering whether Fortnite is appropriate it’s important to look at the emotions that are experienced within the game itself.
Children playing Fortnite can become easily frustrated and emotional following consistent failures within consecutive matches. These reactions and management of emotions for younger children derive from desire to do well and win. How a child reacts to a loss or even a win; its importance is often a great indicator to parents to whether the game is suitable or not. Monitoring your child’s ability to ‘switch off’ to do other activities and self-regulate themselves and their emotions should always be a priority while they engage in any digital game or device use.
How can I manage screen time for my children when they're playing Fortnite?
One of the most common concerns that parents raise with us is how to effectively manage screen time within the home. There are some easy measures that can be taken to monitor and manage screen time for children (and adults) playing Fortnite.
When playing Fortnite: Battle Royale, one match can very quickly turn into 15 without limits being put in place. Games usually last around 20 minutes and the quick-fire nature of game play provides an obvious stopping point to ‘switch off’ at the end of a match. However, children that find it difficult to self-regulate get trapped in the cycle of saying “just one more game”.
As a parent, monitoring how many games your child has played can be viewed within the ‘LOBBY’ section. From there you will need to navigate to the users (see image below). This sections details games played and even the total playing time of individual users. This section is great way to set explicit limits around certain number of matches per day.
The images below show you how to find see total matches played and time spent playing.
Our Top 3 tips for parents whose children are playing Fortnite: Battle Royale are:
The Cyber Safety Project are committed to staying current in this constantly changing digital world. These blog and vlog posts provide insight to families about new trends, potential dangers online and effective strategies to maintain safe and respectful digital behaviours for parents, children, schools and the wider community.