If you have a kid who’s into online games, it can be tough to stay across what they’re up to. Just when you’ve got your head around the latest cool thing, they’re on to something else.
Well, the latest thing is Roblox – an immersive 3D world in which players interact with other players online. 30 million players have signed up. But there are some concerns about the game’s safety for kids. Adolescent psychologist Collett Smart is warning parents that the game has grown in popularity.
“It’s really similar in appearance to Minecraft, so that’s why it flies under the radar with parents. You can be really creative. It’s really fun. There are some games that are G, and PG-rated,” Collett explains.
Players choose their own Avatar and create their identity. They can build a world that other people can visit or can choose to explore other worlds. They can choose role play games, explore mazes or tackle obstacle courses.
“Through the game, you interact with other people online. You chat with them, and you can collaborate on creative projects. That is why it is so popular.”
But even though Roblox is fun and creative, Collett chooses not to let her son play it.
“As a mum, my youngest is 10, and every time my son comes home and says ‘Mum, please, so many people are playing Roblox, can I have it?’ I always say, ‘No, I’m sorry. Not this one.’”
“My biggest concern is like all multiplayer games with content that’s built by players themselves, there’s always the risk of stranger danger and adult content.”
“It’s designed for 8 – 18-year-olds, but really it’s open for all ages to play. Kids want to play and chat with their friends, but you can’t block random people very easily, there’s no [free] single player or private game options. So there are some games that are quite scary or too violent for younger players, and they contain murder themes or horror themes. But my biggest concern (and other expert’s concern) is like all multiplayer games with content that’s built by players themselves, there’s always the risk of stranger danger and adult content. And we’re actually seeing pornographic graphics on this game. So Roblox has clear rules about no swearing and no pornography, but when you have 30 million players playing the game, it actually relies on it being reported, so a lot of it goes undetected.”
Parent reviews on sites like Common Sense Media report children have been exposed to adult content, have been sent creepy messages and have even been invited to join in cybersex activities.
Roblox specifies that children younger than 13 should have parental consent to play and should be supervised, but of course, it’s not always possible to supervise your child every moment they are online.
Sometimes you need to say ‘no’.
Parents can find out more detailed reviews on common sense media or listen to the full interview with Collett Smart.