Fortnite: Why Kids Love It and What Parents Need to Know

Fortnite: Battle Royale

 

Fortnite: Battle Royale is the hottest video game for kids right now. More than 125 million people have downloaded the game and it’s estimated that 3.4 million play it monthly. But while the last-man-standing battle game is a blast to play, it also has parents asking a lot of questions as their kids spend more and more time immersed in the Fortnite realm.

Why kids love it

A few hours on Fortnite and you can easily see why kids (and adults) love it. The game drops up to 100 players onto an island, where they try to find weapons to defend themselves and try to eliminate other players. The battlefield gradually shrinks, forcing players into encounters with each other until just one player remains and becomes the winner.

Even though it’s a battle, the Fortnite characters and interface are colorful and cartoon-like and there’s no blood or gore. The game itself possesses an inherent sense of humor and personality that’s lighthearted yet still competitive. The app is free to download, but players can outfit their characters (for purchase) in an array of battle fashions and any number of fun dances.

Ultimate gaming mash-up

Fortnite: Battle Royale

One reason kids love Fortnite: Battle Royale is that it’s the perfect survival mash-up of several popular media titles: The Hunger Games movie, Call of Duty video game, the first Fortnite (Fortnite: Save the World) video game, and the game PUBG (PlayerUnknownBattlegrounds). Fortnite: Battle Royale takes elements from all of these favorite storylines and game interfaces.

The game has a lot of fun attached for sure. Fortnite’s interface and hilarious character moves can be just as much fun to watch as it is to play. However, as with any other wildly popular, multi-player video game, there are some red flags families need to be aware of.

Fortnite: What to look out for

Excessive screen time. Because of the way Fortnite is structured, kids can easily burn through hours a day if left unmonitored. Some parents have reported their kids becoming Fortnite obsessed, even addictedSuggestion: Pay attention to the amount of time your kids spend playing. If your child is playing on Xbox, PlayStation, or Switch, you can turn on parental controls to limit gaming sessions. Another option, for PC, tablets, and mobile devices, is monitoring software that allows parents to set time limits for apps and websites.Fortnite: Battle Royale

Chat feature. Fortnite is a multi-player game, which means kids play against other gamers they may not know. So, Fortnite’s chat feature carries some potential safety issues such as foul language, potentially befriending an imposter, and cyberbullying. Suggestion: Talk to your child about this aspect of the game and the dangers. Spend time and sit in on a few games and listen to the banter. Then, make the best decision for your family. To turn chat off, open the Settings Menu in the top right of the main Fortnite page, go to the Audio Tab and turn it off.

In-app purchases. Fortnite is free to download but can get expensive quickly. Kids can use virtual currency (purchased via credit card) to access animations, weapons, and outfits for their characters. These items aren’t needed to win the game, but they allow a player to express his or her personality within the game, which is especially important to kids. Some parents have reported finding hundreds of dollars in unauthorized purchases on their credit cards due to Fortnite’s array of in-app purchases. Suggestion: If you know your child is passionate about Fortnite, take away the spending temptation by blocking his or her ability to make in-app purchases. Or, set a weekly limit on purchases.

Fortnite: Battle Royale

Increased anxiety/stress levels. Fortnite’s game structure is a highly-competitive, fast-moving game that renders only one winner. This means, as a solo player, the odds are stacked against you. Play Fortnite enough, and lose enough, and rage can surface. If your child is prone to anxiety or stress, Fortnite may not be the best environment. Suggestion: Monitor your child’s mood. Discuss the emotional highs and lows potentially associated with Fortnite and put some healthy parameters — that address both the types of content and time limits — around gaming habits.

Unsure about allowing your kids to play (or continue playing) Fortnite? Talk to them about it. Join in or watch your child play. Find out what your child loves about the game and if his or her demeanor changes during or after playing. Monitor the amount of time as well. Once you’ve gathered the facts as they pertain to your child, decide how much (or how little) of the Fortnite world is best for your family.

Want to connect more to digital topics that affect your family? Stop by ProtectWhatMatters.online. Also, join the digital security conversation on Facebook.

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her onTwitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures)

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Insurer now offering “troll insurance” for victims of online harassment

(credit: david reid)

Chubb, the company famous for its eponymous locks and other safety equipment, is to offer its clients in the UK the first ever "troll insurance." Chubb personal insurance policy holders will be able to claim up to £50,000 towards expenses that include professional counselling, relocation due to online abuse, or time spent off work.

Cyberbullying is defined by the insurer as "three or more acts by the same person or group to harass, threaten or intimidate a customer," the Financial Times reports.

The inclusion of cyberbullying into Chubb's policies is a result of a survey of the target audience and brokers.

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3 Lies Parents Tell Themselves That Can Put Their Kids at Risk

shutterstock_284183372Trying to keep up with your kids online feels a bit like patching holes in a sinking boat at times doesn’t it?

A recent Intel Security study reveals a gap in what parents perceive kids to be doing online, and what’s actually taking place in behaviors such as cyberbullying, creating aliases, and the amount of time spent online. The study, “The Realities of Cyber Parenting: What Pre-teens and Teens Are Up To Online,” examines the online behaviors and social networking habits of American pre-teens and teens ages 8 to 16 years old.

But rather than get overwhelmed or discouraged when we hear the latest stats, we can use this new information to restart reality—and refuse to let denial run the show.

Here are 3 common lies parents tell themselves and some realities to help you recalibrate your thinking.

1. I can trust my kids online. This is a favorite, bliss-painted lie parents tell themselves. While it may be true that you can trust your kids in general, the online world poses temptations and threats that even the savviest parent—and the most trustworthy teen—can’t begin to anticipate. Predators, scammers, and bullies are part of life and only amplify their tactics in the online arena. Social networks, texting, and now live streaming apps have transformed parenting priorities and establishing a new kind of trust.

Another reality check: Kids’ brains are not fully formed until they are about 21 years old. So even the most predictable kids can and will make surprising decisions.

Truth: Yes, trust your kids in general but don’t trust the Internet. Take the same precautions you would take if you let your kids hang out in a big city. Educate them. Coach them. Know their favorite digital hangouts and guide them along the way just as you would if you were teaching them how to drive.

Talk candidly and openly about relevant digital issues. Keep up on technology, slang, and trends as they affect your kids. Find common ground and communicate often. Don’t wait for your kids to tell you, stay informed about popular technology and ask your kids if they are using risky apps.shutterstock_165358493

2. Been there, done that. We’ve had the online safety talk already. This lie is one that is not only naïve, it’s dangerous. While you may have reviewed the basics of online safety, it’s not enough. Technology moves too quickly, new temptations arise, and simply put—kids forget the basics all the time (like brushing their teeth or taking out the trash)—so they need a parent’s guidance as part of everyday conversation.

Truth: Talking about online safely with kids and teens is pretty much like making them eat their vegetables. You can bet if you weren’t around they’d likely be eating Captain Crunch! Internet safety is a topic you need to visit often. Keep the conversation lighthearted but real when it comes to the potential dangers online. This game plan is a great place to start.

3. My kids understand this tech stuff better than I do—they will be fine. Many parents feel disconnected and out of touch with their digital children; so much so, they throw their hands up and simply hope for the best. But having tech skills does not equate to having tech wisdom, which is where you, parent, come in. 

Truth: Yes, your child’s online life is a lot to keep up with but making a hero’s effort to stay informed is far better than sticking your head in the sand. Your kids need you now more than ever. Be aware of your kid’s digital paths—where they go and with whom they converse. Pour into them the integrity and awareness it takes to become a strong—and savvy—digital citizen.

You are right. Technology is moving too fast. You spend hours a week keeping up with, monitoring, and guiding your kids in the digital realm. However, by staying involved, you can prepare them for making the best digital decisions as they mature in this vast digital space.

What’s your biggest challenge as a parent of a digital tween or teen? Do you believe you are in touch with your child’s online life?

 

ToniTwitterHS

 

 

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @IntelSec_Family. (Disclosures).

The post 3 Lies Parents Tell Themselves That Can Put Their Kids at Risk appeared first on McAfee.

Intimate Images & Cyberbullying – Assessing the Canadian Response

Earlier this week, the Canadian government introduced Bill C-13, Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act. The proposed legislation covers a lot of ground, including the introduction of a suite of new investigation powers (warrants and production orders).

This post deals with one aspect of Bill C-13, which is the attempt to address the scourge of “revenge porn”. Other aspects of Bill C-13 will be dealt with in subsequent posts.

Revenge Porn

Revenge porn involves the online distribution of sexually explicit photos without the consent of the individual for the purpose of harassing or humiliating the individual.

There is no question that non-consensual distribution of intimate images is a serious problem. An individual may consensually provide an intimate photo (or video) to a partner or a person with whom the individual has or wishes to have a sexual relationship for the sole purpose of the personal viewing of the recipient. In other cases, the photo (or video) may have been non-consensual from the outset, having been taken in circumstances in which the individual was intoxicated or as of the result of coercion.

Criminal Law is a Blunt Instrument

Whether the original image results from misplaced trust in a partner, a lack of judgment, deliberate risk taking, or coercion, the act of distributing intimate photos or videos without consent can have serious social and economic consequences for the individual whose image is being circulated.

However, criminal law is a blunt instrument to deal with these problems, and Bill C-13 is no exception. The legislation would criminalize any distribution of intimate material without consent irrespective of the motives of the individual who distributes the material.

Perhaps in an attempt to balance issues of freedom of expression, Bill C-13 requires the victim to have had a reasonable expectation of privacy both at the time that the image was taken and at the time the image is distributed. Even then, the distribution of the image will not be criminal if it is for the “public good”.

The Cyberbullying Report Recommendations

Bill C-13 follows from a report on  Cyberbullying and the Non-consensual Distribution of Intimate Images (Cyberbullying Report) prepared by the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Officials Cybercrime Working Group and delivered to the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers in June 2013.

In the Cyberbullying Report, the Cybercrime Working Group examined two possible approaches to a new criminal offence of distributing intimate images. One possible approach was to focus on the intention of the person distributing the image – that is, whether there was malicious intent.

The second possible approach would not focus on intention but rather the act of distribution – that is, the privacy violation. The Cybercrime Working Group recommended the second approach, in part, because there was a perception that requiring a specific intent would make the offence more difficult to prove in a prosecution. Whether that perception is justified is arguable.

In recommending the second approach, the Cybercrime Working Group also suggested that the new offence have two mental elements. First, the offence must be intentional. That is, accidental distribution of an intimate image should not be criminalized. The person must knowingly distribute the intimate image. This is not controversial.

Second, and controversially, the Cybercrime Working Group recommended that the knowledge component of the offence also include “recklessness”. That is, a person commits the offence if either (a) he or she knows that the person in the image did not consent to the distribution of the image or (b) he or she is reckless to whether the person in the image consents to the distribution.

In choosing a “reckless” standard, the Cybercrime Working Group made reference to jurisprudence establishing that “recklessness is found where a person is subjectively aware that there is danger that his conduct could bring about the result prohibited by the criminal law, and nevertheless persists, despite the risk.”

Bill C-13 Adopts the Reckless Standard

Bill C-13 follows the suggested approach of the Cybercrime Working Group. The proposed offence provision is as follows:

162.1 (1) Everyone who knowingly publishes, distributes, transmits, sells, makes available or advertises an intimate image of a person knowing that the person depicted in the image did not give their consent to that conduct, or being reckless as to whether or not that person gave their consent to that conduct, is guilty

 (a) of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years; or

 (b) of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

The reckless standard makes sense when one is dealing with the first recipient of the image. However, what about subsequent recipients who receive the image without any knowledge of the circumstances in which it was taken? What about the owner of the medium through which the image is “published”? Does this provision put every recipient on inquiry?

Expectation of Privacy

The Government has also added two provisions that may be directed at attempting to immunize this new criminal offence from a challenge based on the protections afforded to freedom of expression in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Cybercrime Working Group recommended that the definition of what constitutes an “intimate image” go beyond the content of the image and include the circumstances in which the image was taken. The Government’s proposed provision goes somewhat further than that recommendation. In order for the image to be an “intimate image”, not only must the content fit within the definition (no surprises as to what qualifies), the image must also have been taken in circumstances that gave rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy and the person who is depicted in the image “retains a reasonable expectation of privacy at the time the offence is committed.”

This seems to mean that an intimate image can cease to be an intimate intimate image if the individual has lost a reasonable expectation of privacy in it. Conversely, it seems that no matter how hard you try to keep control of an image taken in circumstances in which you did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy, that image will not qualify as an intimate image.

Arguably, this complicates what is already a complex offence. Judges will have to assess the “reasonable expectations” of the victim both at the time the photo was taken and the time that the photo was distributed. Does a judge have to consider who took the photo (and who was present when the photo was taken)? Does the judge have to consider whether a person have a reasonable expectation of privacy if she or he sends a photo over a social media site to a person with whom he or she is flirting but does not know?

The Public Good

The proposed provision also contains a “public good” defence. Importantly, one’s motives (good or bad) does not matter in addressing whether the distribution or publication of the intimate image was in the “public good”.

(3) No person shall be convicted of an offence under this section if the conduct that forms the subject-matter of the charge serves the public good and does not extend beyond what serves the public good.

(4) For the purposes of subsection (3),

(a) it is a question of law whether the conduct serves the public good and whether there is evidence that the conduct alleged goes beyond what serves the public good, but it is a question of fact whether the conduct does or does not extend beyond what serves the public good; and

(b) the motives of an accused are irrelevant.

“Public good” is not defined. However, relatively recently, the Supreme Court of Canada reviewed a “public good” defence in the context of the possession of child pornography in R. v. Katigbak, 2011 SCC 48.

The public good requires showing that the it is necessary or advantageous to religion or morality, to the administration of justice, the pursuit of science, literature, or art, or other objects of general interest. The defence is to be interpreted liberally. Whether the accused’s activities went beyond the public good requires an analysis of whether all of the accused’s actions are connected to the public good.

Typically we think of a defence as something that the accused must establish. However, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that this type of public good defence provision requires the Crown to prove that the circumstances giving rise to the defence are not present.

Bill C-13 is bound to be controversial, particularly given all of the investigation powers that have been bound up with this new offence. Stay tuned.