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Fortnite - Should I be worried about my child's internet safety?

The rise and rise again of Fortnite has been extraordinary, hardly heard of a year ago, it’s now on the lips of every child in the world.

Fortnite - Internet safety for kids

Photo credit - GAMESPOT

What is Fortnite and is it safe for my child to play?

Fortnite is a free-to-play shooter game developed by Epic Games (Gears of War).

Parents are both concerned and intrigued by the game, both from an internet safety aspect and as fellow gamers. Another case of don’t do as I do but do as I say has been added to the parenting lexicon.

That may sound like hyperbole, but you couldn’t exaggerate its success.

The number of players is enormous and it’s even more successful as a spectator sport—on Twitch, 66 million hours of Fortnite have been watched in the past two weeks, with about 200,000 viewers tuning in at any given time.

In March, the streamer “Ninja” played with Drake, raking in the highest single-game viewership Twitch has ever seen. It is also, somehow, massively complicated.

There’s no doubt that as this year’s gaming sensation, Fortnite has been driving Principals, Parents, Teachers, and Schools mad - leaving homework undone, dinners uneaten and bedroom lights left on long into the night.

Free-to-play - Battle Royale Mode

Fortnite was not well received on its launch last July, a slightly messy shooting game with building block features not unlike Minecraft, with a little Gears of War and Team Fortress 3 cartooning thrown in.

Then, inspired by the unanticipated success of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, Epic Games added a free-to-play "Battle Royale" mode in September: 100 players on a large island, everyone fighting for survival, with the fort-building mechanics of the principal game still intact.

Parental Control App for Android and iPhone?

That was it, Fortnite took off and nobody really knows how or why. This is where the games lack of parental control notoriety began, especially they made it developer added in iOS (iPhone) availability –making it accessible from almost anywhere – including the classroom.

Although there is parental control software and online safety tools available that allow you to block the game and limit the time spent playing it. Crossover success is root to real success as every music producer knows.

Like Words with Friends and Angry Birds – Hugely successful games are usually nice and simple, they're increasingly mobile, and they don't take up too much time. They're drop-in, drop-out affairs, not too consuming or too tricky to pick up and learn. However, Fortnite strangely defies all of the above accepted wisdom. It’s involving, complicated, time consuming and completely distracting.

Our experience with Fortnite

Our team decided to try the game out and the result of our first sortie was... poor.

We were airdropped into a deserted neighborhood where our mission began. A pickaxe being our first weapon.

To build simple structures with materials we found: wood, concrete, and sheet metal. It suddenly dawned on us that we’re going to need a faster and tougher weapon before another player showed up, so we quickly began scavenging.

The scavenging went on for 5 solid minutes before we had our player armed with an arsenal of small assault rifles and other small weapons. We then quickly began building a fort for protection while also allowing us to observe our surroundings safely.

Then: We run into another player, he shoots, we die. First lesson learnt, always shoot first.

During our next few sessions of Fortnite's “Battle Royale” mode, we learn that high-level play is fun, complex and immerses you completely. The best players dominate on these islands, building fast and furiously, challenging each other with long distance sniping and towering forts.

Fortnite requires decision-making, quick thinking and flexibility. Defend, attack or to build - there is always a choice to be made.

It’s like any other complex, gamer-oriented multiplayer shooter game, it’s likely we won’t ever good at it, which to be honest is fine by us.

It’s not easy to understand Fortnite’s success and popularity around the world. Additionally, international celebrities are taking flak for helping make it so successful amongst younger players. Drake in particular.

Yet Fortnite is complicated: a mixture of brightly coloured, inviting images, the right game mode at the right time. But the fact that such a complex, gamer's game could become so popular is worth noting.

What we can expect in the future?

It suggests that gaming's insularity is perhaps overstated, maybe cultural factors are more responsible for the inaccessibility of games than their mechanical sophistication. What games might need to reach new audiences is not to simplify, but to broaden: to find ways to hit cultural and aesthetic means of appealing to new demographics beyond the core gaming audience.

People want to play new games, even the most complex and messy ones. Fortnite is proof of that. It’s clear that we are going to see a whole slew of new games and themes in the near future looking to mimic Fortnite’s success. And if they can get Drake on board, that’ll help.

Be Secure Online – Online Safety for Kids

Online gaming’s popularity is undeniable.

A quick look at its timeline indicates that virtual games are becoming more brutal and more gruesome – a result owed to the improvement of graphics and online accessibility, but also due to our need for bigger, better and more realistic online interactions.

It’s important that children are educated about online gaming and the possibility that the fellow gamers that they meet online may want to hurt them outside of the game or gain access to their private information.

The truth is children have access to the internet from as young as 3. Esafety/online safety is therefore critical to ensuring their protection.

Our talks about internet safety for kids focus on helping children understand the real dangers that the internet poses and why they need to be vigilant on both gaming platforms and social media.

Parents too must understand the dangers of giving their children access to the internet and why parental control is necessary.

For more information about our online safety talks, please contact us.

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