Roblox is a virtual universe that was launched back in 2006. It gained significantly in popularity during the pandemic and now has over 50 million users.
Roblox is a platform that allows users to create their own online games by using its game design tool known as ‘Roblox Studio’. Here, users can play, create, and chat with others. In a way, Roblox is similar to YouTube – it gives people the tools to create digital content and a place to share and enjoy content from other users.
Within Roblox itself lie a series of games that a user can choose from. Parents and Educators may have heard phrases such as ‘Adopt me’, ‘Brookhaven’, and ‘Tropical Resort Tycoon’. These are just a few of the varying experiences a user can choose from once they are inside the app.
Roblox is free to download and most games within it are also free to play – although purchases can be made using ‘Robux’. Robux are the ‘in platform’ currency and can be used to buy upgrades, game passes, clothing, accessories and more. Robux can be won through gaming, or by trading within the app, or can be bought using real money and traded within the game.
Some games are designed by the app, others are built by users themselves. To create or build a game, the software Roblox Studio is required. The benefits to this layer of imaginative creation are vast, with many enjoying the creativity it adds to their time online.
Roblox has a large fanbase with its key demographic currently estimated to be 9-12 year olds. Interestingly however, recent reports claim it has a fast-growing user demographic in the 17-24 year old category, and with that in mind, we may therefore see an increase in games more suitable to this audience and therefore caution is advised.
Roblox has its own Community Rules which are easy to understand, so view these with your child before they access the platform.
The app has controls that parents can utilise, however, as with everything online nothing is 100% safe, and so the best parental control you can have is to also have the device on your mobile phone and access it regularly to monitor what your child is doing. When you log in to your child’s account you can view not only who they are friends with, but also who those friends are friends with.
You can also view what games they have recently visited and what games their friends have recently visited. Roblox works by trying to connect you to one another and so you may find, in their chats with each other, links to varying games so that they can connect instantly. Roblox also makes a user aware when a friend is online and what game they are currently in, again, to encourage connection between users.
It is important to use your child’s correct date of birth when signing them up as this immediately limits their reach within the app if they are under 13. It allows you to prevent them chatting to other users for example, and to only enter games curated by Roblox Staff.
There are ways users can still communicate however (more on this below), and so it is imperative, even with parental controls set, if an under 13 is playing on the app, parents need to be intrusive around what they are doing. Ask them about the games and who else is playing.
Discuss what they should do if they receive a friend request (of which they will receive multiple), so that they understand, not just that it is ok to say no, but, that it is SAFER to say no. Children sometimes worry that they should accept anyone that requests them, so opening up a dialogue around gaming behaviour and ‘netiquette’ can be really useful and help them to feel they can come to you when potential issues arise.
The best parental control you can utilise is your own eyes and ears on your child’s online actions. Make sure you speak to them about issues such as grooming, pornography, swearing and bullying behaviour. Ultimately if your child is old enough to be online then you need to make them aware of these things. If you are uncomfortable with that, then perhaps you need to rethink whether they are old enough for exposure to the online world in the first place.
Be sure to enable account restrictions as these limits the access a user has to content suitable for all audiences, and further, it turns off communication settings. You can set the messaging function to friends only which can also help to restrict access to your child by strangers. However, please note, unless you set a pin to protect this your child can amend these settings themselves, so please ensure it is pin protected.
Roblox does have its own parental guide.
There are many positives to the Roblox app but with it come risks and so here are a few things for parents keep an eye out for:
You will come across many games within the Roblox app that promise you ‘Robux’ for completing them. They will very rarely, if ever, materialise. It is a scam to draw your child into playing the game, or in some cases, try and obtain your data by asking you to click a link. Speak to your children about scams and the importance of not believing everything they read to be true. If you look at the small print underneath the game, many will state they do not offer Robux as a prize so make sure to teach them to check out the details of the game prior to entering.
Even with messaging features disabled, users always try and find obscure ways to communicate. This again highlights why the best course of action around any online use is intrusiveness, and an open and honest dialogue with your child around what they are doing online.
As with anything in the online world, here at BulliesOut we also see the positives that time spent gaming can bring. However, with Roblox because of the age range of the main user, demographic intrusiveness and parental involvement is absolute key. The pre-teen demographic of Roblox is widely publicized, and therefore, to anyone looking to groom, it makes for a vulnerable and susceptible audience. If you allow your child to chat online, please check their chats and conversations.
Online supervision is key to maintaining their safety when using the online world.