Is Roblox Safe for Kids?
A platform this large (over 40M games in one!) is just naturally going to struggle to keep all of the junk out, even with over 2300 moderators. The Wall Street Journal points to ongoing issues with sexual content which they hope to fix with a game rating system.
There’s so much potential in this platform, which encourages creativity, coding, and fun with other gamers. Regardless of the risks, being involved with your kids as they play Roblox is the best way to keep them safe and build digital trust.
What is Roblox?
Summary Description: Roblox is available on mobile devices, computers, or gaming consoles. Players can create their own mini-games that often mimic other popular games, or can be completely unique. By using the Roblox Studio, kids are learning how to code using the Lua programming language. These custom-made games are posted online and other users are able to search for them and start playing.
Website: blog.roblox.com (a publicly traded company)
Apple App Store Rating: 12+ for infrequent/mild cartoon or fantasy violence, infrequent/mild realistic violence (NOTABLE absence of anything sexual mentioned in the app store rating, which is a problem).
Google Play Rating: 10+
Mature Content: While the app is rated for users between 11 and 13, Roblox recently added the ability to create mature games with a 17+ rating. These specific games and elements can only be accessed after an age verification process, in which the user must provide a Government ID and a live selfie.
Setting Parental Controls:
Roblox’s own set-up guide is here, but summarized below.
- Use your Kid’s Real Age. We recommend not using the exact day, but at least the year. Users under the age of 13 are given more safety features and more parental controls.
- Don’t use their Real Name. Make sure your child doesn’t use their real name to sign up, the game also tells them this during set-up. Keep a secure password. You can decide whether your kid knows the password or not.
- Extra Accounts. Users can set up multiple accounts on the same device, which means it’s easy to circumvent parental controls. We’re fans of just calling this out so your kid knows you’re aware of this loophole and that you’ll be monitoring for extra accounts you didn’t help set up.
Here is how to change your kid’s age on Roblox:
- Add Parent Email. Log into the game (ask your kid for help if needed!) Tap the “…” in the lower right > Settings > Account Info. Next, add your email so you have more control over the account.
- 2-Step Verification. You will need to verify your email before continuing to the next step. Go to Settings > Security. Set up 2-step verification. This is becoming a standard for online safety and simply adds a layer of security.
- Set a Pin. This is so important because kids are clever little digital ninjas! Without a 4-digit pin, they can simply go back into the settings and reverse these changes. Trust us, they will figure it out. Predators might try to get your kid to change their settings, but this shuts down that possibility.
- Disable Chat. Another way to ensure adults aren’t interacting with your kid is to disable the chat. Settings > Security > toggle on Account Restrictions.
- Personal Data. Also, make sure your child doesn’t reveal personal information. You can check this in Settings > Account Info.
Roblox does have several ways to see the history of certain account activities. When logged into Roblox through a browser (not through the app) you can view the following:
- Creations such as games, items, sounds, ads… etc (Develop)
- Private message history (Messages)
- Friends and Followers (Friends)
- Virtual item purchase and trade history (Trade)
By enabling the settings above, the Roblox experience will look like this:
- No messaging or in-game chats.
- For games that are tagged accurately, a child under 13 can’t enter violent or sexualized games.
- Mobile users under 13 won’t be asked to sync their contacts or be recommended to add “people you may know.”
- Your child can still receive random friend requests. Check the requests tab and “Ignore” them
- Your child can still encounter human beings with horrible words and/or intent, but since chat is shut down, there’s no communication with him/her.
What else should Parents Know about Roblox?
Short-from Videos are on Roblox. That’s right, developer’s with a verified-ID 13+ can insert videos up to 30 seconds long into their custom made games. It costs 2,000 Robux to upload a video right now ($24.99), users must adhere to Roblox’s Community Standards, and they can only upload a maximum of 3 videos per day. Keep an eye on this!
Now available on PlayStation. This means even more people will have access to this games, if your kid is a PlayStation gamer, please pay attention to this game!
Roblox is Testing Voice Calls. Using Hollywood level tech, the voice calls will be tracking facial movement through your camera and will mimic your movements onto your avatar for an “immersive experience.”
Porn and Sensitive Content. As the TODAY News video highlighted, there are ways to be exposed to pornographic and sensitive material, most of which are difficult for moderators to keep up with due to the volume of users. While it’s uncommon for these kinds of games to simply appear, they can be searched for or found through chatting with other players. Additionally, users can code “particles” into their characters, which can be made to emit floating, pornographic pictures and music with explicit content.
Roblox really is no different than any online environment that allows human beings to upload their own stuff. That “stuff” will always include sexualized content.
Therefore, the app’s 12+ rating seems inaccurate. There is a notable absence of any reference to sexualized content in the App Store description of the Roblox App. One could classify some of the avatars as extremely suggestive, if not borderline pornographic. Consider this story from a star Rugby player who pretended to be his 8-year-old on Roblox:
He said from the outside the game looked fine, but when he went into a room with a pool he was immediately “propositioned”. “They said ‘hi’ so I said ‘hi’ and they asked if I was a boy or girl and my age so I said I was an eight-year-old boy,” he says. “Next, they asked me to follow them to their house, then into the bedroom and asked me to lay down on top of them and then they started with the sexual movements. ‘You look cute’ and ‘You look sexy’. It was sickening reading all the comments pop up. My kids were completely oblivious as to what the words and stuff meant.”
Roblox Studio. By using the Lua coding language, kids can build their own mini-games. For a kid aspiring to create games as a career, this might be a good place to practice (with supervision). However, some of these games can be mature and violent. Frontlines is an example of a game on Roblox that utilizes a Call of Duty-styled game, with similar graphics, guns, violence, and a growing adult player base. It’s the first of its kind at this capacity and is available for free through Roblox. This is groundbreaking because Roblox games usually look like LEGO blocks or Minecraft. Frontlines, however, resemble the figures and environments of mature-rated 17+ shooters like Call of Duty. While it’s impressive what users are able to create, just because it’s on Roblox doesn’t mean it’s for kids.
VR. Roblox allows users to experience virtual reality within their platform. This puts users in a more immersive setting that can easily be exploited by other users they interact with, or even by the VR games that are offered. For example, Walmart Land lets kids explore a fun toy-filled warehouse. The danger is that younger users often can’t tell the difference between these immersive games and the advertisements they are surrounded in. Engaging with adult users in a VR setting comes with numerous risks. Sadly, sexual and suggestive hand motions or virtual groping is common in these spaces.
Friend Requests. Even with all of the pins and restrictions set, anyone can send anyone a friend request, which happens regularly during gameplay. While some are simply spam-driven, others are real people who might be trying to interact with your child. Roblox recently added a “friend-finding” feature that allows users to upload their contact list from mobile devices. It’s easy to get connected with so many people on this app, so please ignore friend requests!
Sexual Predators. “Wherever the kids are, that’s where the sexual predators are, too.” This is a reality of the digital age. Because this app is predominantly used by kids ages 8-12, this is going to create an automatic attraction to sexual predators.
What are “ODers” in Roblox? Here’s an explanation from Common Sense Media:
“OD” stands for “online dater.” These are folks who join social networks, including gaming sites like Roblox, to find romantic partners. Games on Roblox can even be designed expressly for ODers. Roblox doesn’t explicitly forbid ODers, and ODers aren’t necessarily preying on kids. (They may be solely looking for other ODers.) Roblox‘s monitors look out for inappropriate conversations and content. And its community rules prohibit chat that’s sexual in nature.
Related PYE post: Identifying Tricky People – Stranger Danger in the Digital Age
In-App Purchases. Beware that kids might be tempted to buy additional gaming features if given the opportunity. Bling matters!
Reporting Abuse. Blocking another player or illegal content is fairly simple by clicking this article from Roblox.
Party Place allows kids to create private, mini-social networks exclusively with friends to chat, hang out, and plan which games to play. Roblox has seen meteoric downloads during the pandemic. New features are no surprise! Make sure your kids only invite friends they truly know into their servers.
Roblox feels more like a 13+ app. There are parental controls but they are so easy to circumvent. If you allow younger kids to use the app, then gameplay should always be with an adult present. In the spirit of creating Digital Trust, sit down and play a game with them! CO-PLAY! Stay involved. Very involved. Our hope is that at some point, there will be a solo, “private” way to play Roblox, similar to Minecraft, without interaction with other gamers.
2 amazing ways to stay current and be more confident:
*There might be affiliate links throughout this post because we’ve tested and trust a small list of parental control solutions. Our work saves you time! If you decide that you agree with us, then we may earn a small commission, which does nothing to your price. Enjoy!