Self-described as the “largest social platform for play”, Roblox has captured the attention of kids around the world. There are more than four million active users/creators on the “imagination platform” and more than 26 million users join each month — it’s a virtual environment that real-world kids can’t get enough of. But is it really okay for children to play? If you’re not sure what it is or how it works, read on for our take on the pros and cons.
What is Roblox?
Roblox is a user-generated platform that lets kids create and share their own worlds and games. Think of it as a combination of YouTube, Minecraft, and virtual Lego.
How does Roblox work?
With an emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education, kids who join the Roblox community can create worlds and games using drag-and-drop technology. Anything from meadows and racetracks to carnivals and pizza parlors can be developed — and players can go as far as their imaginations will take them.
- It’s an engaging platform that encourages kids to be creative and is especially great for kids who are interested in learning to code.
- There’s an endless variety of worlds, games, and accessories (e.g. clothing for game avatars) for kids to explore.
- With so many games to choose from, parents of young children have expressed concern about violent or inappropriate content rising to the surface.
- The ERSB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) suggests Roblox is safe for “Everyone +10”, but has only based this ranking on the game’s Xbox One interface. Conversely, the Apple App Store suggests it’s better for kids 12 and above. Both list “fantasy violence” as justification for their assessment.
What is Roblox going to cost me?
Roblox can be downloaded for free from the app store, but the currency used in the game (Robux) will cost you — it can be purchased in-app or earned by signing up for a Builders Club membership. The free Builders Club membership doesn’t come with Daily Robux rewards and lacks many game features, like the ability to trade items or further customize avatars. In short: digital Robux need to be bought with real money.
- Robux aren’t required to access the majority of the game’s features — they aren’t needed to sign-up or for kids to explore many of the worlds within the game.
- Many young kids may not understand the difference between real money and Robux money, and might make in-game purchases without realizing the consequences.
- In-app purchases may cause your children to ask for money on a regular basis, and they might get frustrated if your answer is no.
- Though rare, some of the more advanced games and worlds require that you pay to play.
How does Roblox let kids interact with each other?
Roblox has different in-app chat options for players both younger and older than 13. Players under 13, for example, can only chat with users they are connected with. Roblox also gives kids the option to make comments while playing a user-generated game.
- Roblox understands the responsibility that comes with being a social platform, and has developed a comprehensive parent's guide that details their specific safeguards.
- There are options to turn off chat, restrict friend requests, and block keywords.
- Every social platform for kids comes with obvious (and not-so-obvious) risks, and Roblox is no different.
- There’s a range of parental feedback on the app’s moderators and safety features available online — some positive, some very negative.
What are Roblox’s safety features?
Roblox is a member of the kidSAFE Seal Program; the app has implemented two-step authentication, age verification, and advanced parental controls.
- Roblox uses proactive cyber protection that doesn’t just rely on users/parents to police content — all images, videos, and audio are approved by one of the game’s moderators before they go live.
- Parents can control how much interaction their kids have — there are options to limit chat options (or turn them off altogether).
- Instead of giving players free range to explore Roblox, parents can request a list of recommended, age-appropriate worlds for their kids.
- Any time kids spend online comes with inherent risks, like cyberbullying and sexual harassment. CTV reported that children had been exposed to a variety of disturbing content on Roblox.
- There’s also a risk that kids will confuse the real thing for one of the many Roblox imposters on YouTube (including scams that offer free Robux).
- Safety features vary depending on the device your kids are using, so settings on the Xbox and iPad need to be manually adjusted.
Roblox is not suitable for children 10 and under.
“Whether or not kids should be allowed to play Roblox depends on the parent’s level of engagement. Roblox can be a great place for kids to nurture their creativity and have some fun, and with active supervision, it allows parents to have conversations with their kids about potentially inappropriate games/experiences. If parents don’t feel like they can realistically moderate content, we’d suggest children under 13 stay off the platform.” — Sean Herman, Founder