You’ve probably heard your kids talking about it – you may have even played it yourself. We’re talking Roblox, the online game that has got kids, particularly primary school-aged kids, totally hooked.
To give us the low-down on all of the things that parents of Roblox-loving children should be aware of, we’ve brought in Jane Webster, experienced social media specialist and founder of Code9 Parent – an organisation dedicated to helping parents understand the different platforms their kids interact with online.
We asked Jane to explain the basics, the benefits and the various measures parents can take to ensure their kids can keep playing Roblox safely. Read our chat below…
So, what exactly is Roblox?
Roblox is a massively popular entertainment platform that allows people to imagine, create, and play together across millions of user-created virtual worlds. It almost looks like Lego-like blocks online.
There are two options to play on Roblox: play on the games other people have created, or create your own game which other people can then play. All the online games on the platform have been built by members of the Roblox community for members of the Roblox community. The types of gameplay on Roblox are just as limitless as the imagination of the creators themselves.
Should I be worried if my child is playing Roblox, and should I let them play it unsupervised?
Roblox does give parents a fair amount of control over how their children can use this app and who can interact with them. If you have reviewed all of the privacy and security settings and applied these, then you will have the solution set up for the age of your child and with appropriate controls set in a way that they cannot be altered, assuming you have set up the PIN.
The key concern for parents is what kids stumble across when online. Roblox has had occurrences where children have stumbled across inappropriate content in games that have been setup by another player. So, it’s a very good idea to have a talk to your children about this and if they do come across something that they are unsure of, to let them know what you want them to do – i.e. log off and tell you immediately or, for older kids, show them how to report a situation and/or block person.
Of course, you can also watch them play or play a game with them to keep an eye on this and, if you do come across something undesirable, immediately report it and block the player.
What are some of the benefits of playing Roblox?
From an educational perspective, there is a lot to like about Roblox. It provides a wide variety of tools and resources for children to explore their imagination and develops skills in computing, spatial awareness and some of the other disciplines children will learn at school under the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects.
Are there any adult-themes or worrying features that my child might come across while playing Roblox? If so, what are they?
Roblox proactively filters inappropriate content and will act against anyone who is in violation of the Rules of Conduct. All uploaded images, video, and audio files are pre-reviewed by moderators before being allowed on the site.
There have, however, been situations where players have created games or rooms which are inappropriate for children. By way of example, in mid-2018 a player created a room in Roblox that had multiple characters arranged around the room. The characters were paired up and were positioned to demonstrate a range of sexual positions, which was obviously very inappropriate for children. Thankfully once it was reported to Roblox it was removed very quickly, however this demonstrates that this type of imagery can still be created and get past the moderators.
Are there any ways I can ensure that my child won’t be exposed to inappropriate content, or communicate with people they’re not supposed to communicate with when they play Roblox?
Make sure the privacy controls are set up for the age of the child, so you can then manage who can message your child and who they can play with. These settings have a PIN option, so parents should set these up then apply the PIN and keep it to themselves so that their children cannot alter the settings.
If they do come across anything in appropriate, there are options in the game to report a player and block them, so they cannot contact your child. Use these if needed.
Do you have any tips for parents whose children might be spending too much time on Roblox?
This is a challenge for all parents, not just around Roblox but all social media and games online. We would suggest the first step is to communicate with your child and set some guidelines and boundaries for your children on screen time, and then enforce them. If you want to then add tools to assist, management of screen time and access to apps can be set up with the latest version of i0S software (iOS 12 for Apple phones), or other programs such as Family Zone, Our Pact and Qustodio. They all have slightly different applications and levels of control. We have covered off on these in our Social Media 101 course, which is free on our website.
Roblox can be great imaginative fun for our kids, but they shouldn’t be left unsupervised to roam the game freely. It’s important that parents educate themselves on the game if their kids are playing it, and we try and make that as easy as possible for them. Our website and Facebook page cover off on a lot of the commonly asked questions around Roblox, and other popular platforms, apps and games and when updates occur we let you know. We also have a course for parents that will step you through HOW to setup Roblox for your child, so its age appropriate and safe.
For more information on Code9 and their education and support services, head to www.code9parent.com.au.