During COVID-19, internet safety rules went out the window as parents and kids struggled to live, work and school together all day from home. Parents wanted quiet to work, kids' wanted to be occupied without being able to see friends down the street. Naturally, rules got stretched a little. Now we need a way back reducing kids time online permanently. Here's a true story about two boys from Leicester.
After lockdown, the boys stopped attending online schooling, playing their games instead, which is what you do when you are seven and nine. The parents assumed that Fortnite was keeping them safe. It is a game played by kids, and naturally, her two boys would be kept safe by Fortnite. The kids and parents were happy, the kids were occupied and not annoying Mum & Dad.
Two things happened next. The two boys' behaviour worsened, their language coarsened, acting aggressively towards their Mum especially. Things became clearer after the family dog chewed through a headphone lead. The parents heard the game for the first time and suddenly realised what a toxic environment a public server game is. Definitely, not suitable for their two young boys. When gaming, you can’t stop the text, but you can turn the sound off, which is strongly recommended by internet safety experts and child psychologists worldwide. Mum suddenly realised;
Fornite makes one of the best online games out there. Free to start with, Fortnite soon starts selling stuff (Vbucks). Fortnite need players playing all the time. Their job is to keep you or your kids online. Fortnite employs the best game designers to make the most engaging game ever. So caring for kids who make up nearly 65% of their audience and e-safety for kids is not part of their job.
“Remember, if you don’t look after your kids, the internet, gaming business will, happily.”
Graham Mulhern “How To Protect Your Kids Online”
We became familiar with this story when interviewed on a local radio station with the Dad, Sean. It was Sean who decided on the hard stop plan, which we said was the best plan and very brave of Sean, especially as he had two very upset kids on his hands. But he was 100% correct. Listen to a podcast version of this article.
Playing in public servers means your kid is playing with strangers online, unprotected, many of whom are much older. Experts worldwide do not recommend this, especially from an online and internet safety perspective.
What Parental control can do for you here.
It will not control or moderate what they see while playing. Parental control will prevent them from becoming addicted, though, which is what you want.
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Over a two-month period, they changed completely. They were obsessed, no longer going outside to meet friends, they were morose, surly and crude, only enjoying each others' company. Mum was especially upset at hearing more cursing than actual words, sometimes with extreme profanity, all common currency amongst older teenagers. Dad said later, the dog did them the biggest favour ever, chewing up the headphone cable. He presented the kids with one option, three hours a day only, playing with kids their age or nothing. On the upside, he discovered a new connection with them too as he loved Fortnite too.
Multi-player games with sound are notorious for rough language expletives, they built games this way, to encourage vocal exchanges, which is exactly what the developers want. So, turn off the sound, so your kid can’t hear it.
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Comments: Fortnite is not the problem, it is the players. Check pegi.info for details on any game you are not familiar with before letting kids start new games.
Remember, if you don’t look after your kids, the internet, gaming companies will, happily.
1. Why gamers really need VPN
2. Our No.1 most-read ever Internet safety tips for kids
3. Is it good for my kids? Fortnite - Explained