Fortnite – it’s one of the most online game of the year, that millions of people, mostly teens and kids, play everyday.
But authorities say the game is not all child’s play. Recent reports show the game has been used as a grooming ground for sexual predators.
Last month, a Pennsylvania man was arrested after allegedly traveling to Hall County to meet a 13-year-old boy he had sexual conversations with while playing Fortnight. And in Montreal, CBC reported predators used a sextortion scheme, promising a chance to up their game in exchange for skimpy photos sent over Instagram.
Ben Halpert educates kids 3 years old and older on how to play smart online. He said when it comes to kids and online gaming these days, it’s really “the wild, wild, west out there.”
“Sextortion, unfortunately, is nothing new. But now it’s being used in every game in every social media platform for kids,” Halpert said. “They get all these in-bound requests from these strangers asking for these things, and if you, as a parent, have never said, ‘Keep your clothes on, and don’t send pictures like that,’ your kids are gonna do it.”
Fortnite has a PEGI (Pan European Game Information) content rating of 12, making it not “suitable for persons under 12 years of age.” But many younger children play, anyway.
“If you have young kids, it is important to understand the game they are playing,” Halpert said.
Here are six more tips to keep kids safe while they game online.
- Know the games your kids are playing
- Make sure your kids are NOT using their real names as their gamer tags
- Talk to your kids about communicating with strangers while gaming
- Let your kids knew they will hear and see inappropriate activities
- Play (or watch) your kids game to really understand what they are doing
- Understand the parental controls that are at your disposal
Get more resources for parents at the Digital Parent’s Guide to Gaming: Keep Calm & Game On.