RAF families using Fortnite to communicate with soldiers abroad

Credit: Pixabay

RAF soldiers serving abroad are using online video games to keep in touch with their families in the UK, a new study shows.

Research led by the Anglia Ruskin University found children and partners of stationed personnel are using Fortnite, Roblox and app games to contact their family member during period of separation.

Interviews and focus groups held for the 'Navigating Modern Communication' study established families use the integrated chat and call functions built into games or console to interact.

"Because I have an Xbox and my dad has a PlayStation, he would take his PlayStation and we'd play together. And we talked together on the game and we'd just play together on the game," one child said.

Another said they used Snapchat to play Battleships with their dad.

Families described how internet-based methods made it easier to communicate due to their immediacy and allowed parents to be more flexible with timings and communicate on the go.

But families also shared difficulties finding time to communicate with stable internet connections and negotiating different time zones occasionally proved barriers.

Speaking about the troubles with Wi-Fi, one child told researchers: “That’s the most annoying thing ever. I'll be talking about something really important, and I'll be really into it, I've come to an end, calls off…but I can't remember the start so I can’t explain it again. It’s really annoying."

Lead author of the research, Abigail Wood, said online gaming "allowed youngsters to share a hobby with their serving parent while spending time communicating with them".

"However, it does raise important questions as to whether current policies and advice for families fully consider the use of in-game chat functions and the potential risk they may pose to security," she added.

The study also calls on politicians to provide more information to families with someone serving abroad about safer and securer ways to communicate online.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...