Is Roblox an inappropriate online game for your child to play? It's a good question. You may have seen a worrying parents' warning in the news recently, regarding sex games and children being exposed to inappropriate content on Roblox. Read on to explore the potential risks, what safeguarding measures Roblox has in place to protect young people, and what parents can do to support their children.
Roblox is a very popular online gaming platform which enables users to explore a wide range of different 3D online games. Players can create their own games or worlds for others to explore, or can discover existing worlds built by other gamers or developers. These worlds are like a primitive type of 'metaverse' and are explored in the form of an avatar, which the player creates. There is a social side to Roblox too, as players are encouraged to interact, play and collaborate with other users through chat functions. Find out more about Roblox here.
Children love Roblox because it encourages creativity, enabling them to build or discover a wide range of bright and colourful worlds where they can have fun using their imagination and role playing with their friends - but is Roblox really appropriate for kids? The main thing to bear in mind is that Roblox is not actually designed for children - its users are made up of gamers and developers of all ages from across the world, including adults, and it's not recommended for children under 13 years of age. And most importantly, however stringent the filters, online safety settings and moderators on these platforms are, there is still some shocking and inappropriate content on Roblox which evades these safety measures.
There are some significant risks to children playing any games online, and Roblox is no exception. Among other things, parents need to be aware that the 'chat' option can potentially expose children to explicit language, adult content, cyberbullying and abuse. There are language filters in place, but users have found ways around this, and chat is not moderated. In addition, some users use third-party chat apps, which look like part of the game, but bypass the parental controls you may have put in place. In addition, although stricter settings are automatically applied on accounts for children under 13, there is still a possibility your child could stumble upon a scary or gruesome game that's inappropriate for their age group. Plus, adults and children can socialise together in these spaces, which is of particular concern in terms of online grooming.
Recent news reports have brought to light the problem of sex games or 'condos' on Roblox. These are extreme spaces, created by users, where players can talk about sex and partake in sex games which, although virtual, can be graphic and explicit. Parents' warnings in the media have advised extra vigilance when using Roblox and emphasise the importance of teaching children about playing safely online and how to report inappropriate content when using Roblox. The good news is that these games are not something that children will easily come across, as they need to be actively searched for, but nonetheless their mere existence is troubling.
In light of these recent reports, Roblox have released a blog post that reiterates how they are supporting their developer and user community. In it, they assure users that "safety and civility have been our core values from the very beginning and drive everything we do". So Roblox as a company do have safeguarding measures in place and their 'safety-first culture' includes:
However, they do admit: "As with any community, there are a small number of bad actors who may attempt to undermine or skirt the rules, and we continue to evolve our platform and policies to thwart this behaviour". Whatever the good intentions, there is no doubt that policing gaming platforms like Roblox is becoming a more difficult task, and bad content does slip through the net.
Unfortunately, no matter how many safeguards are in place, the digital world will always include individuals who are bent on creating inappropriate content on Roblox, and other gaming platforms. But there are lots of things parents can do to support their children online. Firstly, they can familiarise themselves with the platform, so they can fully understand how it works, and educate themselves about the risks. Secondly, they should have open conversations with children about the games they play and potential dangers. And finally, it's important that children understand how to deal with these scenarios should they come across them. Children need to know where they can get support, and that they won't get into trouble for reporting something or someone. Here are some top tips:
Natterhub is dedicated to teaching children about online safety and digital citizenship and supporting parents with their child's online journey. Why not take a look at our Platform Advice pages for a wealth of information about popular gaming platforms and apps?
And if your child likes to watch YouTube, then browse our list of child-friendly YouTubers and channels, so you can check out the suitability of their content for yourself.
Looking for an online safety learning platform to help support the PSHE, computing or citizenship curriculum in your primary school? Take a look at Natterhub's comprehensive set of interactive online safety lessons here.
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