School warns over Roblox and Fortnite online games
An Armagh primary school has warned parents not to let their children play two popular online games unsupervised.
There is concern that they may not know exactly with whom they are playing - or chatting.
Roblox and Fortnite allow players to interact with each other via online chat.
Armagh Christian Brothers Primary told parents of the "absolute need" to supervise their children if they were playing either game.
Games platform Roblox and the survival game Fortnite are among the most popular sites for children and young people.
Another school, St Colman's Primary in Annaclone, near Banbridge, has held classes recently for pupils and parents about the potential pitfalls of Roblox and the PSNI has spoken to parents about internet safety.
Its principal, Kevin O'Neill, said Roblox and Fortnite were very attractive games for children of all ages.
"The internet being the way it is, it is very hard to keep track of the different games which are developing," he said.
Mr O'Neill said that whilst Roblox "taps into a child's imagination" the downside is that "they can be interacting with people who are not who they say they are".
"From the safety of their own living room they could be speaking to people that they should not be and be facing situations that we would not be comfortable with," he said.
Parental involvement 'critical'
Mr O'Neill said a joined up approach is needed between schools, parents and the authorities to tackle the issue of internet safety.
The National Crime Agency has tweeted a warning about the voice and text chat features of Fortnite.
#Fortnite is immensely popular with children and teenagers across the country.It features voice and text chat which cannot be turned off, so it's important that parents and teachers understand that risks broader risks associated with the game and enable safe playing. https://t.co/lwzm4Lk9tO
End of Twitter post by @NCA_UK
However Fortnite said users could disable voice chat on all platforms.
Roblox said there were extensive parental controls on its games and that parents should take the time to review all settings for their child's account.
The platform also said it had moderation controls and tighter restrictions for children aged 12 and under.
"All games on Roblox must comply with our Rules of Conduct. Our safety team reviews every uploaded image, video, and audio file used within our games to make sure they are safe and age appropriate," said a spokesperson.
"Parental involvement is critical to a fun and safe experience.
"To that end we have created extensive parental controls for our games and a detailed Roblox Parent's Guide that provides information to parents to help create a Roblox experience that's best for their child."