Fortnite: Kids privacy and spending

Aussie kids love playing Fortnite. But while our kids have been playing the wildly popular game, has Fortnite been playing with their online safety, and, your wallet? 

Just before Christmas, the Federal Trade Commission announced it was fining Epic Games (the publisher of Fortnite) $722 million in penalties and refunds to settle complaints revolving around children’s privacy and its payment methods.

The complaint was made up of two cases: 

  1. Use of “Dark Patterns”, which means using deceptive user design which may have tricked players, including many children and teens, into making purchases without their knowledge.
  2.  “Privacy-Invasive” default settings. Fortnite collected personal information from players under the age of 13 without parental permission. And then made it exceptionally hard for those parents to delete their children’s data.

Epic is also accused of exposing children to harm by having text and voice chats on by default in Fortnite, which subjected them to harassment and bullying. Epic eventually included a way to switch off voice chat.

How to check if you are eligible for a refund

Do you or your child(ren) meet the criteria in the image above?

If you answered yes to any of the above, you might be entitled to a refund from the settlement money the FTC charged Fortnite. Right now, you don’t have to do anything, but the FTC recommends you check back at this page often and sign up for email notifications regarding the case. It is unclear if/how consumers outside of the US will be able to get their refunds. 

Epic Games said in a statement that the FTC’s complaints were only relevant to past practices, and that these types of practices were common in the gaming industry. 

So with these practices being ‘common’ amongst online games, how can we help our kids navigate and understand when they are being targeted, and how to spend responsibly online?

Related blog: How to help your kid set budgets for online game spending. 

As parents, we can start to understand how companies target minors, and what risks are out there when it comes to in-game spending. 

Working with our kids, we can also start to understand what it is they want to buy online, and help them set budgets and strategies. We’ve compiled a list of helpful tips for parents and kids to work through together to ensure safe online spending. 

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