A World of Imagination and Uncertainty
As much as us 30-somethings enjoy playing the newest MMOs or console titles, most will admit that our prime gaming years are behind us. After all, we are parents now. Now our little ones can enjoy gaming just as we did when we were younger. Naturally, our children play more age-appropriate titles. These games are basic experiences. Such games as Fortnite and Rocket League have provided great entertainment for some. However, there is one title that has practically dwarfed them all in popularity with young audiences. This title is none other than the free-to-play building and exploring browser game, Roblox.
Since 2005, Roblox has provided a world of imagination and play for young gamers the world over. Founder and CEO, David Baszucki, has stated that Roblox is designed to “empower imagination” through allowing players of all ages to join with others on virtual playgrounds developed by independent creators. This vision has proven successful as the game officially hit the milestone of 90 million users last week. A substantial percentage of these users are under the age of 12 years old.
Assisting the New Generation of Gamers
For fledgling gamers in 2019, Roblox is as popular as ever! If you are a parent of a young boy or girl, there is a big chance that your child has played this game. Of course, there is also a chance that you have heard about the various controversies surrounding this game in the past. As entertaining and inspiring as this game can be for your little ones, it is important to recognize some of the dangers that can come from within. Here are some things to consider when allowing your children to play Roblox.
The Power of Roblox Studio
There is something that you may not be aware of. When Roblox is downloaded onto a computer, the world editing engine comes with it. What that means is that everyone who downloads the game can create their own world that can be shared with other players. Really, the game is left to the imagination of the creator. That is not always positive.
As creative as some individuals can be, they can also be equally devious. The Roblox Studio software allows for creators to place their content into the playable areas of the game. Pictures, music, and even vocal files can be uploaded into the game itself. Unfortunately, this allows for the possibility of questionable material to be placed within a game that is primarily played by children. One does not need to be a Roblox expert to see how this can be a problem.
Fortunately, the Roblox team has stepped up the filtering and monitoring process. Over the last few years, the Roblox Corporation has cracked down the uploading of explicit content. It now requires all uploaded content to be reviewed by trained moderators. However, some content can slip through the cracks. It is important that parents regularly monitor what rooms their kids are playing in, and if any content is questionable, report the room to the Roblox moderator.
Roblox Security Is Not Entirely Secure
Despite the measures that the developers have taken to protect their innocent players, there are moments when the security of these children is compromised. When that happens, the news is right there to cover the scandal. Last year it was reported that a North Carolina mother witnessed her daughter’s Roblox avatar being “sexually abused”. The mother was able to take screenshots of the act, and the breach in security was traced back to a “bad actor” who programmed these actions into the game’s interfaces. This is what the Roblox Corporation said about the incident:
“We were outraged to learn that Roblox’s community policies and Rules of Conduct were subverted. We have identified how this bad actor created the offending action and are putting additional safeguards in place to reduce the possibility of this happening again in the future. The offender was identified and has been permanently banned from the platform and we have suspended the game. We have zero tolerance for this behavior.
As terrible as this event was, the authorities at Roblox have, for the most part, stayed true to their words. No major recorded security breaches happened since the incident last July. However, during the early years of the game’s existence, account security was a major issue for players. It seems as if the developers have been making improvements, but accidents can still happen.
COPPA and kidSAFE
Roblox understands its appeal to young children and has taken the steps to protect those users. Considering themselves to be on the “forefront of community safety,” the developers have partnered with the kidSAFE Seal Program. This initiative grants certification to members of the tech industry that qualify by meeting the highest standards of online safety and kid-friendly software. Roblox itself has been recognized by the Federal Trade Commission as an adherent to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA.
As parents, it is important to understand COPPA and the rights that your children have. According to the FTC, COPPA “prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices in connection with the collection, use, and/or disclosure of personal information from and about children on the Internet.” Roblox allows users to chat with each other online. COPPA protects these children by allowing for such features to be “monitored and regulated.” Parents are given unprecedented control to protect their own children while they are playing online. But is it enough?
Watching and Protecting Your Kids
The truth of the matter is that Roblox is just as safe as any other online game, maybe even more so. Just like other games, Roblox accounts can be comprised despite security that is in place. Your children deserve the best online security there is, and as parents, you are that security.
The simple acronym R.E.P can help you monitor your kid’s online usage.
- R-Regulate Gameplay: Roblox gives parents the capability of regulating the amount of interaction that their children are able to make in the game. As a parent, you are the first line of defense in protecting your children from online predators and troublemakers. Monitoring and setting limits on game time will help your children to make the most of their play. That will keep them from “exploring” areas that they are not supposed to go.
- E-Encourage Interaction: Talk with your children about the games that they play on Roblox. The various games offered within Roblox provide new and unique experiences for your children to enjoy, and talking with them about it will give you an idea of what they are encountering online. Ask them about who they are talking to and what those conversations consist of. Injecting yourself into the online life of your children will ensure that they do not have to navigate it alone.
- P-Play with Your Kids: Roblox is a free-to-play browser game that works for PC, mobile devices, and the Xbox One. It allows for crossplay on all devices, so it is easy to log in on a separate account and play the game with your kids. By doing this you will be able to see exactly what your kids see. This will also give you the chance to connect with your children through play.
Its All about the Children
Roblox is a wonderful game that encourages creativity and play among children and others. Just like anything that is online, this game can present threats that can put your children in danger. However, it does not have to be this way. Through regulating gameplay, interaction, and directly playing the game with your children, you will be able to give them the support that they need.
Many of us here at DVS Gaming are parents ourselves, and some of our own children play Roblox regularly. My own daughter, who is seven years old, loves to play Roblox on my computer. She has met new friends online and interacts with them much like she would on a school playground. It is that innocence that must be preserved in an age where so much can go wrong online. The safety of our children is more important than anything else on this planet; it up to us to make sure that safety is preserved.