The NSPCC and O2 have launched new advice for parents of young people playing the multiplayer action survival game Fortnite: Battle Royale. It comes amid concerns over a function in Fortnite which automatically allows users to speak to other players through voice and text chat functions. It means children can be contacted by anyone else who is playing the game.

Users can disable voice chat in the game via the setting menu, but the text chat function cannot be turned off. Research from NSPCC and O2 this week reveals that that one in four children have been contacted online by someone they don’t know. The research is based on reviews by children and parents of the most popular apps, sites and games currently on the market, featured on the Net Aware app and website.

Today’s Net Aware advice on Fortnite warns parents the game features cartoon violence, where players can use a variety of weapons, such as guns and axes, to kill other players, despite being rated as suitable for players aged 12+ by The App Store.

The NSPCC and O2 are offering parents the following advice:

Talk to your child regularly about what they are doing online and how to stay safe. Let them know they can come to you or another trusted adult if they’re feeling worried or upset by anything they have seen. You can use our conversation starters to support you when starting these conversations.

Explore your child’s online activities together. Understand why they like using certain apps, games or websites and make sure they know what they can do to keep themselves safe. Agree your own rules as a family when using sites, apps and games. You can use our Family Agreement template to help you get started. Manage your technology and use the privacy and parental control settings available to keep your child safe.

Laura Randall, NSPCC’s associate head of child safety online, said “Apps, sites, and games such as Fortnite: Battle Royale can be great opportunities for young people to play and engage online.

“However, in light of emerging concerns about the risks children could be exposed to, we are urging parents to be aware of Fortnite’s features. It is vital parents have regular conversations with their children about the games they are playing, and how to stay safe online.

“Anyone looking for further online safety advice can contact the O2 NSPCC online safety helpline on 0808 800 5002 or pop into an O2 store where an O2 Guru can help.”

The Net Aware app can be downloaded for free from the App Store or Google Play. It can also be accessed online at www.net-aware.org.uk

The App Store says that users must be 12+ to play.

There is a chat feature in the game that allows users to contact each other using voice or text. You can disable voice chat in the game by selecting the 3 lines in the top right of the screen, select the settings icon, choose the ‘Audio’ tab at the top of the screen and go to the ‘Voice Chat’ option, where you can select ‘Off’.

There is cartoon violence in the game. You can use a variety of weapons to kill other players, such as guns and axes. There are in-app purchases, which can become expensive. Players can be reported to the Player Support team if you are concerned about activity or behaviour.

Fortnite – advice from NSPCC and O2

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