The New Era – The Fortnite Obsession
There probably isn’t a parent out there with a son aged between aged 5 upwards who haven’t heard of the online game Fortnite. My son, like all his mates at school, is obsessed with it. But do you know ways to keep your child safe while online gaming? Do you really understand the dangers that come with these games?
This is a new era, an era where life-like games are
The idea that my son could communicate with total strangers from all around the world with the click of a button is downright terrifying. And so it should be. Predators use these games as a quick and easy way to get access to children, all while their parents are in plain sight.
Ways To Keep Your Children Safe Online
Know the game they are playing: I logged on and played the game myself first. Seems bizarre I know, but it allows me to understand the game, how it works and all its features. The more you understand the game, how it works, communication features and the like, the more likely you will be to be able to keep your child safe online.
Change privacy settings: My son plays on Playstation, so his father was better at this than me as I’m a Playstation/gaming tragic, having little to no experience with it. The last time I played a video game was Super Mario Bros back on Super Nintendo.
Changing privacy settings allowed us to control who could and could not communicate with our son. Setting the “mute” function on voices when he was in a “party” with people he didn’t know meant we knew no ill-meaning person could chat with him.
Educate your child: We all know stranger danger. Well in this modern era, stranger danger doesn’t just take the form of people trying to meet children face to face. More likely, stranger danger will come in the form of online danger.
Education is the best form of defence. Teaching your child about the dangers of online gaming empowers them. This worked well in our house. My son has always been super trusting of people, he loves people. While this is a great trait in certain ways, it is also very bad in others.
I made the decision to sit him down and explain to him that there are nasty people out there who try to talk to young children on the internet. You don’t need to go into great detail as to why, simply telling them we shouldn’t talk to people we don’t know is enough.
Monitor your child’s friends list: Do you know who these people are?
Check the profiles of unknown users: These are people who are trying to befriend your child. I’ll admit a few came through that my son just accepted without telling me so I viewed their profiles. The users I could not identify were immediately deleted and blocked.
In my opinion, any adult who wants to befriend a child they don’t know online has sinister motives. This might be a doom and gloom way of looking at the world but if it keeps my child safe them so be it.
Only Allow Use In The Main Living Areas: The Playstation my son uses is in the main lounge room of the house. It will remain that way so that I can sit next to him and watch what he is doing. The idea of him sitting on his iPad in his bedroom without any form of monitoring is just plain silly. Be involved. If they know you are monitoring their every move, they are more likely to play by your rules.
Set clear rules. No adding random strangers without my permission. Play with mates in “parties” only. Tell me if someone you don’t know tries to talk to you. Set clear ground rules and have consequences if they are broken.
Similarly, don’t be afraid to ban certain games if you feel they are just not safe. For me, Roblox is banned. There is no way to disable the chat function on this game and therefore it is banned.
Limit the time they are allowed to play. With our busy lives, it is easy to just let them play their Playstation or iPad that little bit longer just to get some work done or a moments peace. We are all guilty of it, I will be the first to admit I have done it.
However, I absolutely notice a change in my son’s behaviour when he plays the game too much as opposed to times when I refuse to allow him to play it. Studies have shown that screen time does alter the chemistry in a child’s brain, so try at all costs to limit game time.
Despite all this, to say it has been a smooth run would be a lie. Currently, Fortnite is banned in our house. Why? Because my son’s behaviour was gradually getting worse and worse.
He was falling asleep in class and having random unexplained meltdowns. When we discovered he was waking up at midnight, sneaking into the lounge room to play Fornite for 5 hours before being told to go back to bed, the game was immediately banned. Despite daily protests, it remains that way.
Gaming addiction is absolutely real, like any addiction it rules my son’s mind. It is something that we as parents need to be acutely aware of and to manage as best we can as we all know these games aren’t going away in a hurry.
Like this article? Share the love!