A message from Mrs Miller…
Weekends and holidays are sometimes mean extended hours of screen time for those that enjoy gaming. I wanted to share with you some insight into the game that has become incredibly popular.
My 13 year old son has been playing this game for quite a few months now and I had no idea what it was about. I decided to join him and get him to show me how to play. A nice way to spend time together and a great way to be aware of what he was playing.
Fortnite: Battle Royal is a free survival “Hunger Games” style game. Your character sky dives from a flying bus onto an ever shrinking Island where you have to survive without being killed by one of the other players. The last one to survive wins. You can also build fortresses within the game to get better vantage points to defend yourself. When you first land you have to hunt around to find objects like health kits to heal you, materials to use to build and weapons to defend yourself and kill other players. Once you die in a battle, that’s it! No respawning within that battle, you can, however, watch the outcome of that battle through “Spectating” mode to the end if you want to see who won. Once you die…and I did a LOT of that. You go back to the “Lobby” which is basically a car park and wait for the next flying bus to take you to another island with up to another 100 players to try and survive again. I’m happy for him to play this game as he is older than the recommended age and we have set his voice chats to only allow him to be contacted by friends. I however will not be putting this I my fun ‘to do’ list. I’d much prefer going for a run with my dog or a good old fashion board game. Please check out some of these helpful hints to make sure you are giving your child the skills to use technology safely. The best advice I can give you is to use “Family Zone”. Here’s the link to find out more about it. Family Zone
- Rated 12+ Commonsense media suggest 13+
- It is a strategic shooting, last person standing survival style game, with some Minecraft style building and mining
- There can be up to 100 players in any battle at the same time
- It is an online multi player game available PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows, and Mac and now mobile devices
- You can play by yourself in Solo Mode trying to shoot everyone before they shoot you to survive and be the last man/woman standing
- You can also play in a duo or teams with people you know in real life or random strangers
- The game has voice chat on headset/mic which can be turned off in the settings if you don’t want to talk or hear others in your team. You can’t hear other players talking other than those on your team
- The recently released mobile version of the game on iOS Apple devices doesn’t have voice chat yet, but does have text chat.
- The weapons are anything from axes, swords, bombs, handguns, sniper rifles, machine guns and bazookas
- You can level up and get fancy outfits and superior weaponry by being a successful player or by paying for them
- You can purchase extras in the game with a “Battle Pass” that help you level up faster and get fancier “skins” or outfitsPlaying It Safe
- Set a time limit for play, this game can be quite addictive, due to wanting to level up (1hr max a day)
- Make sure younger players only play in teams with real life friends
- Adult supervision is needed for younger players to ensure they don’t play with strangers and have voice chat on. Switch off in Settings/Audio
- Voice chat can be disabled in the audio settings in the game, but if your children are playing with their real life friends they will want it on
- Your child may want to voice chat using another app like Discord, make sure the privacy settings are set up on Discord Messenger go to Settings/Privacy & Safety
- Keep an eye on the game as the developers will be adding new things to the game over time
- Kids sometimes get picked on or bullied in the game if they are playing with older players they don’t know
- If they ever enable in world global chat you may want to disable it in settings as you can in Roblox for example
- There is a privacy setting in the game to restrict being contacted by non-friends
- There is also some bad language filtering that works with text chat in the game Remember, it’s not technology that’s unsafe or behaving incorrectly. It’s having the skills to use it safely. I don’t know any device that has bullied! Please learn about what your child is doing online, monitor their screen time and never allow them to use devices after 7pm as has been proven to disturb their sleep patterns.
- We have a screen time plan in our household. For the little kids and the big kids! We need to be positive role models and all put away the screens and spend quality time together. Whenever my 13 year old son complains about me taking his phone off him, I always state “phones are a privilege not a right!” As Mr. Pascoe said in a previous ‘Contact’, sometimes we have to be mean parents to be good parents!
- Enable settings for privacy, auto decline friend requests and more through the launched game menu top right of the screen. Click the 3 horizontal bars for the Game Privacy tab, the game settings tab for the audio chat settings. Click the “Manage Friends” tab to set more privacy settings.
The Cybersmart government website is now the Office of Children’s eSafety Commissioner website which is valuable resource with sections with information for both parents and children. Parents can download the Cybersafety help button from this website.
Chatterbox is essentially an online chat program for parents, where they can learn about Cybersafety, pre-submit questions, share stories and advice. Chatterbox can be downloaded and accessed at home or on a mobile device. Each episode starts with a video followed by an audio discussion featuring targeted steps for parents to take action and/or start online safety conversations with their children. New Chatterbox episodes will be released though out the year.
The internet service provided to schools is a filtered service provided by the Department of Education. The following link provides information for parents about parental controls for your children on your home computers or mobile devices.
“To help kids maximize the Internet’s benefits — while minimizing the risks — we offer the latest research, tips, and tools on what really keeps kids safe. Which privacy settings should you use? What are the ins and outs of parental controls? Get tips on everything from the basics, such as smart usernames, to the big stuff, such as appropriate sharing.”
Common Sense media is a helpful website for parents and teachers to use when looking for information about keeping children safe online and reviewing apps, websites and movies. It can help you to work out what content is appropriate for children of different ages from kindergarten right through to teenagers.