November 7, 2018
With the online world becoming a prominent part of children’s lives today and the age of children using the internet is getting younger. Popular games on the internet are resulting in children becoming vulnerable when at home. Because of this, Harmony at Home have created this quick guide to keeping children safe online, as it is very important that both parents and nannies are aware of the possible internet misuse.
Communication between players when gaming: players can chat to each other via microphones, headsets and messaging. Children can talk to peers from school but can also talk to strangers. Although speaking over the internet can be innocent, it can lead to cyberbullying or sexual misuse by strangers.
In-app purchasing: children can easily purchase different products and game upgrades, such as ‘skins’, without realising they are spending money. Leading to large bills on parents’ accounts. Parents are no longer in control of their finances as innocent gaming can lead to large payments.
Addictive nature of the game: arguably children are staying up all night to play their game and falling asleep in lessons. It has been argued that long sessions of game play is due to games evolving and being able to play with friends. Resulting in children becoming addicted to the continually new elements of their favourite games.
If you’re worried that your child is being groomed online or sexually exploited, you should report your concerns to CEOP.
It is not necessarily easy to spot the signs of your child being groomed/sexually exploited. Therefore if you have any concerns you should call 999 or contact CEOP as soon as possible.
You should always report to CEOP if your child is or has been in contact with someone who is:
CEOP is a command of the National Crime Agency and can investigate what is happening – your children’s safety and wellbeing is paramount. You can make a report to CEOP using the CEOP Safety Centre. https://www.ceop.police.uk/safety-centre
The current popular online game is Fortnite, the game gives you the option to play singular or as a duo. The aim of the game is to be the last person (or duo) standing in a post-apocalyptic world. Fortnite: Battle Royale, sees up to 100 players pitted against each other to stay alive on an island. Players can build and demolish structures, and collect weapons, supplies and armour to help them along the way. Players shoot each other using a range of lethal weapons, but the brightly-coloured, cartoon-style graphics and lack of bloodshed mean it doesn’t feel too gory or graphic.
To play, the age recommendation is 12 and above due to ‘mild violence’, although you don’t have to provide your age when creating an account, so younger children can still log on easily.
Fortnite: Battle Royale is free to download on PC/Mac, Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Switch and iOS devices (Apple phones and tablets). It’s coming to Android soon.
It has about 45 million monthly users worldwide including the England football team, who reportedly played it in their World Cup downtime.
Roblox is a popular online game, with players as young as 5 year olds. There are over 15 million games created by users, individuals can learn and play with their friends in a family-friendly, immersive, 3D environment. Roblox can be accessed on different devices, resulting in children being able to play with anyone wherever they are. Although family-friendly, there is always a chance that strangers can connect with younger children on these different devices.
Parental controls on the gaming device: most devices have options to set time limits on game play, set age limits for content and also restrict those in-app purchases.
You can visit the website ‘ask about games’ for links to detailed instructions on the device your child uses – the site covers Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Apple and Android phones, and Nintendo Switch. Ask About Games
The battles in Fortnite roughly late 20 minutes. Having this idea on how long a game lasts means you can set time limits for matches rather than a set number of hours. Resulting in your children not fixating on how long they can play.
Turn off the voice chat feature: Speak to your child to make sure they know this feature exists and encourage them to use the options below if they encounter someone who is offensive or inappropriate.
You can disable the voice chat function in the game if you:
You can also ‘mute’ individual players in the game by:
Make sure your child knows how to report inappropriate behaviour:
You or your child can report players who make them uncomfortable using the in-game feedback tool (located in the main menu).
You can also use the ‘support’ section of the Epic Games site (the makers of Fortnite). You’re asked to select the platform you play the game on, the game mode you’re playing, and then you can select ‘report player’. You can provide more detail such as the player’s name and attach a screenshot.
What else can I do?