As most parents are well aware, Fortnite Battle Royale was released around a year ago, as a free-to-download game that is now available on a multitude of computing platforms. It sees players attempt to stay alive for as long as they can, in games that last around 20 minutes. It features cartoon violence, where players can use a variety of weapons, such as guns and axes, to kill other players, despite this, it has been rated suitable for children to play. The (often ignored) age recommendation is 13+.
Fortnite is the biggest game in the world right now, and in some cases, it is being exploited by scammers who try to steal information and money from the young people who play it. Downloading Fortnite is free, but like many other games, it has an entire in-game economy of purchasing options. This is how Epic Games, the producers of Fortnite, make their money. Players (or their parents) use real money to buy a currency called V-bucks, which can then be traded for cosmetic options and other upgrades within the game. Like anything else, where there is popularity, there is the potential for advantage to be taken of unsuspecting players.
Some scammers are trying to trick young people into giving up personal and sensitive information about themselves and their parents. This can be done by offering players free V-bucks or by winning them over through chatting directly to them. The virtual currency is a huge drawcard, as it is this that allows players to buy in-game upgrades. Scams are often distributed through YouTube, and searching that site for “Free V-bucks” brings up around 4 million results. The videos usually direct children to another site or app away from YouTube, with the promise that they will receive free V-bucks.
The voice chat tools within Fortnite are used to contact young people and ask for personal information. The way the game works means that anyone can get in touch with anyone else playing the game and the feature cannot be fully disabled. It is not unheard of that a young player may give a random stranger details of a parent’s credit card or drivers licence on the promise that they would get free V-bucks in exchange for the information. In light of emerging concerns about the risks and scams young people could be exposed to, we are urging parents to be aware of Fortnite’s features.
There are both positive and negatives of gaming.
Some of the positives are:
May improve coordination
May improve problem-solving skills
May enhance memory
May improve attention and concentration
May improve the ability to multitask
Some of the negatives are:
In game bullying
Exposure to violence and gun violence
Viruses and Malware Scams
Tips for parents:
- Limit the time spent on devices and games – the nature of this game means players often do not realize how much time they have spent trying to be the ‘last one standing”.
- Set healthy boundaries and strategies in place for your children - for example before they play they have to do 15mins of exercise and have exercise breaks regularly through the time that they are gaming.
- Keep smart devices and gaming consoles out of the bedroom. Keep them in the family room.
- Find out how to block and report issues, before your children start using the game. Make sure they know never to respond if they get asked for any personal information, such as where they live, age and the like.
- Stranger danger is real, and it is online 24 x 7. Keep talking to your children about this and if they are talking to someone online that they don’t know, to make sure that they tell you, and that they know that under no circumstances are they ever to meet up with someone they have only “met” online.
- Take time to play online games with your children before allowing them to play them on their own.
As always, if you have any concerns about this kind of activity, please feel welcome to contact the school.