Voice & text chat systems in the popular Fortnite game are leaving children open to being contacted by strangers, warns the NSPCC.
The warning comes after research by the charity suggested 25% of children had been contacted online by strangers.
It advised parents to turn off the voice chat system in the game to ensure children avoided inappropriate contact.
But the charity warned that the text messaging system in the game could not be disabled.
Options in the main settings menu in Fortnite did not let players block text messages sent to them, said the NSPCC.
It also advised parents to closely monitor the amount of money their children were spending through the game's online store, which lets keen players buy skins and other items to personalise their in-game avatar.
Top Tips For Parents:
- let children know they could talk to them if upset or worried by anything they had seen online
- familiarise themselves with what their children did online and understand why they liked particular apps or games
- agree family rules on how to use apps, sites and games
- use privacy settings and parental controls to keep children safe. Check out the Internet Matters site for help with this
- Book onto our Prevent Online Grooming sessions, which help parents & carers be aware of the latest social media apps & gaming trends; plus details on how young people may be groomed online, with possible signs to look out for.
Top Tips For Young People: B.R.E.C.K.
Be aware of the risks when gaming; files you are asked to click on may contain viruses; messages may be of an abusive nature.
Report anything that is making you feel uncomfortable or worried online. This can be to a parent, guardian or teacher. You can also report to the Police or CEOP. You can also call Childline on 0800 1111 for support.
Educate - someone online may be catfishing you; and telling lies about who they are, what they do, or what opportunties they may have for you. Always check the info someone shares about themselves with other sites to see if it is true.
Communicate - if you do decide to meet up with somebody you know from gaming or social media, only meet in a public place, and always talk to a parent or carer beforehand.
Know the signs of grooming when online. Often, groomers will pretend to have similar interests as you; try and remove you from your friends and family; or give you expensive items (phones/jewellery). Ditch The Label have the tips you need to catch a catfish out!
More information on gaming safety can be found on our advice page.