Apps and online game trends come and go, but one of the most popular mobile games has stayed in the top spot for kids and tweens for several years. Roblox has taken its place in pop culture as one of the most popular games for elementary school and middle school kids. But is Roblox safe?
Roblox isn’t just one game. When kids (or you!) download Roblox, you open up a world of millions of games. Roblox brands itself as “the largest user-generated gaming platform.”
The platform has become so popular with kids that Roblox Corporation posted a parent guide created by ConnectSafely specifically to address concerns, questions and potential privacy issues. So what do parents need to know?
Parental Control: Safety First
Kids can connect with other users via the platform, and, for parents, this raises safety red flags. The ConnectSafely parent guide notes that the games can become “virtual play dates” between peers but that these interactions can be supervised by parents by utilizing privacy features.
ConnectSafely’s guide doesn’t take a firm stance on whether or not a user should game with individuals that s/he doesn’t know, because, really, this is a parenting call. Some parents are lenient with interactions (especially if a gamer is an older teen), but others might want more control.
Parents should make it very clear to kids what the rules are regarding online interactions. If you prefer that your child only interacts and plays with peers, then utilize privacy settings and make sure kids fully understand online boundaries. Parents also may want to set consequences for breaking family-guided online rules.
Parental Control: What Games Should Your Child Play?
Roblox has—per the company—15 million games. That gives kids lots of choices. ConnectSafely’s guide recommends that parents get in on the fun and actually experience Roblox with their child.
This recommendation relates to parents seeing how kids can interact with other players. Plus, gaming with your child allows you to see the different games your child likes.
Understanding a gaming platform may give parents the best insight into how it works and what the potential issues may be for their child. Immersing in the experience allows you to see the intricacies of the platform, and, as the saying goes: knowledge is power.
Since kids often have more tech knowledge than their parents, this advice is even more important to help parents stay on top of trends and the ever-evolving gaming worlds.
Parental Control: Block the Trolls
One of the best tips on the Roblox guide is all about ‘blocking’. The online world is filled with trolls and bullies (and, unfortunately, predators). Parents need to know how to block problem users and how to report bad (or even dangerous) behaviors.
No child should be bullied online. Parents can take steps to protect their child by learning how to block and report problem users that could pose a threat to their child. To “Report Abuse,” the guide notes that parents need to fill out a form about the issue.
Parental Control: How Much Playing Should Be Allowed?
Every parent has different preferences and rules regarding screen time. Maybe during the summer months that time limit is expanded they can play longer hours…or maybe there is no limit.
Parenting is unique for every family. However, there are medical guidelines to how long a child should spend staring at that screen.
According to recommendations issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics and included in the online guide: “For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.”
Roblox and screen time should not become such a preoccupation that real life gets kicked to the curb. Parents should set time limits and make sure kids balance the screen with other experiences.
For kids who own a smartphone, time spent on digital activities can quickly become out of control. Cell phone addiction is becoming a problem among teens, and parents should be cognizant of how often kids are using that device.
ConnectSafely also makes it clear in the guide that passwords should remain private—but this should be well understood by parents. Don’t ever let kids share personal information with anyone online. Ever.
So what is personal? Real names, where they live, birthdays, their school and other info that could let a predator or hacker gain access. Kids should never share that parents aren’t home or when they are going on vacation.
Online smarts should start at home. Parents need to go over public and private info and what should NEVER be shared online.
Online etiquette is important for kids to learn at an early age. Bullying is never acceptable, and kids should never use foul language, incite violence, insult, degrade or say/do anything that makes another user to become fearful or feel threatened in any way.
Teach kindness and make sure kids abide by the rule of Thumper’s mom: “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
And whatever a user shares online could be forever. Choose words wisely and carefully.
What if You Don’t Have Time to Play?
Some parents may want to check out Roblox and play with their kids, but they just might not have time. How do time-constrained parents keep their kids safe, too?
Parental software programs can limit what kids see online, what games they play and how much time they actually spend gaming. ScreenTime helps parents keep track of what kids download and how long they spend looking at those screens, among many other features.
Parents who can’t play in the virtual Roblox world can have peace of mind that their kids are staying safe and playing smart. As with any parental control software, though, parents should never use ScreenTime to snoop on kids. Before you implement this or any monitoring software, let kids know you’re using it and why. An honest conversation helps kids understand the importance of their safety.
Is Roblox Safe for Your Child?
So is it safe to play Roblox? Yes, but parents need to be involved in the experience…especially when younger users are signing up. Play Roblox with your child so you understand the games on the platform and you may help your child learn to navigate this unique community.
When playing with your children, help them understand how to interact appropriately and how to be safe online. For elementary school and middle school kids, Roblox can be a great way to hang out with friends in a virtual environment. In many ways, the online experience becomes an extension of a child’s social world, and, as long as they understand how to be safe and smart, Roblox can be a fun online ‘playdate’ with friends.
Some parents, though, may decide that they don’t like the idea of their child interacting online. Others might not have time to game with kids. Parental control software like ScreenTime can help parents understand how long kids play Roblox and what else they’re downloading.
Again, every parent needs to choose what’s right for their family and their child. While Roblox offers millions of games, the idea of these online interactions makes some parents feel unsafe and vulnerable.
If your child is already playing Roblox and you haven’t experienced the platform, head online and check it out. Set boundaries with your young player and always make sure they know the basic rules of online safety and etiquette. Parents should make use of the parental controls functions on the game if they want to limit online interactions. Happy gaming!