There’s so much a kid can learn from online gaming, like cooperative play, leadership, and special skills. There is, of course, plenty of danger to letting your kids game online with a bunch of strangers. From Minecraft to Fortnite and, yes, Roblox, there’s just a big, wild world full of games targeted at our kids and luring them in with bright colors, fun concepts, and, uh, cool dances? To a certain extent, you want your kid to fit in, have friends, and do fun things with them. You don’t, however, want them to end up with a gaming bestie that is actually a 45-year-old dude in Florida pretending to be a nine-year-old girl in California.
So, is Roblox any safer than any other game? How can you make it as safe as possible? Will you ruin your child’s life if you try to ban all online gaming? Believe it or not, there are some simple steps you can take to keep your kiddo safe while still caving to the demands of pop culture and gaming. You just need to keep a few things in mind.
Is Roblox safe for kids?
Safety while playing Roblox is debatable, at best. While there are certainly ways (more on that in a minute) to keep your kids safe while they play, the most enjoyable version of Roblox requires connecting to the internet and being open to exploring what strangers create. That would seem safe enough, given that it’s a game for kids. But that’s not exactly true.
Just because the game is geared towards kids doesn’t mean they’ll find only kids. Gail Dines is the President of Culture Reframed, a nonprofit geared toward children’s internet safety. She sums up the struggle with internet gaming better than anyone: “What studies do show is that wherever kids hang out online, you can be sure that predators will follow.”
While you can train your kids to leave a chat or disengage when someone is being predatory, that doesn’t solve all your problems. The basic idea of Roblox means that anyone can create any kind of room or world they choose. And, just like Kim Kardashian found out in early 2022, it’s fairly easy for a developer to include content that you don’t want your child to see. In the case of Kardashian, it was a video alluding to her sex tape, and it was found… by her kid. Yikes! Of course, you or your child can report any objectionable content, and Roblox will be quick to take it down. Still, it stands to reason that some damage has already been done — your child has already been exposed to whatever that gamer included.
“Roblox is a very popular online game for kids, but parents should be aware that it’s not always safe from creepy strangers,” shares parenting writer Mo Mulla from Parental Questions. “I recommend that parents do some research before allowing their children to play this game and ensure they’re familiar with the privacy settings. It’s also a good idea to chat with kids about being careful about who they talk to online, and not sharing personal information with anyone they don’t know. With a little bit of supervision and guidance, kids can still enjoy playing Roblox while staying safe from predators.”
How can you keep Roblox safe for your kids?
“As a parent, being proactive about your child’s online safety is important. By taking some simple steps, you can help ensure that your child has a safe and positive experience online,” Mulla says. “There are ways/settings that parents can use to make their online experience safer for their kids. One way is to use a filter on your device or computer. You can also restrict your child’s time online and what websites they visit. Another way to keep your child safe is to be involved in their online lives by talking to them about their day and what they’re doing online. Finally, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open so your child feels comfortable coming to you with any concerns about their online safety.”
For Roblox in particular, playing offline is the safest form of gameplay. If your child isn’t connected to the internet, you immediately negate the risk of interaction with a stranger. They can still have all the fun of building their own rooms, but they won’t take part in any social aspect of the game.
If your child is dead set on being connected to the internet and socializing with friends as they play, you can still protect their safety and privacy. By restricting their access to only trusted friends, they’ll be able to visit and chat with only the people you allow. This could be school friends or family members. Just keep in mind that the best way to go about keeping their playtime safe is to confirm their friends’ user names in person. If anyone requests access to your child, let the request hang until you can chat with their friend or their friend’s parent and confirm that they’re really who they say they are.
Teaching Privacy and Safety
As your kids turn into tweens or teens, they’ll start looking for more access. This is no different than expanding neighborhood boundaries or pushing back bedtime. They’re looking for wiggle room. Things you can do to help your older child stay safe while having full access to the Roblox world include:
- Constantly reminding them not to share personal info (full name, age, the school they go to, phone number, address, etc.)
- Keep their personal Roblox area free of location hints. Ensure they’re not broadcasting their city, school mascot, or colors. It only takes a little bit of information for a predator to connect the dots and find your kid.
- Start early and teach them good instincts. You’d be surprised how quickly your kids can pick up on bad vibes when you’ve instilled that common sense in them early on.
Is online gaming really that bad for kids?
Samuel Franklin is the founder of Games Finder and an avid gamer himself. He shares that the benefits of the internet and online gaming might outweigh the risks.
“A healthy understanding of how the internet works and the benefits it can provide to your life, education, and work is the largest benefit to a child’s future, and avoiding the internet entirely may actually have the greatest detrimental effect on a child’s future,” says Franklin. “The internet is simply ingrained in our culture and a key part of building a social circle, used in various jobs, school, and a powerful learning tool when used appropriately. In current times it also allows children to connect with friends who they may not be able to see in person due to illness.”