Closed schools and quarantines during the pandemic helped launch Roblox, a gaming experience where kids can play with friends and peers, into the hearts and hands of millions of young people worldwide.
While most kids are Roblox experts, its innocent, Lego-like animation and fast rise to popularity have left many parents unaware of Roblox’s hidden dangers.
Keep reading to find out what these dangers are and how to keep your kids safe on Roblox.
What is Roblox?
Roblox’s mission is to “bring the world together through play,” but Roblox itself isn’t a game so much as it is a platform for games.
When a child signs on to Roblox, they enter a virtual space that hosts more than 11 million games called “experiences.”2
All these experiences are created by users—not Roblox. There are obstacle courses (“obbys”), flight simulators, bowling alleys, schools, waterparks, and racetracks.
Experiences can be as diverse as delivering pizzas, raising a pet, or chopping down trees.
Users have logged over 95 billion hours on Roblox.
There are no limits to the imaginative creations found on Roblox. But children do more than play games. They can also build their own experiences.
Aside from being a fun and creative exercise, developing unique worlds teaches them the basics of programming.
Is Roblox Dangerous For Kids?
Roblox’s age rating is E10+, meaning Roblox is generally suitable for children 10 and older.
But this rating applies to the platform, not the individual games children can play on the platform.
Since users generate the games themselves, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) doesn’t evaluate them. They merely note “possible exposure to unfiltered/uncensored” content and leave it at that.
Because of this, there are certain games and Roblox features that can make it very dangerous for children of any age.
However, the platform can be a safer and more enjoyable experience if parents are aware of the dangers and take steps to mitigate risk.
Here are the most common hidden dangers of Roblox and what parents can do about it.
Five Hidden Dangers of Roblox
“Robux” is the currency of Roblox. Robux can be used to buy clothing and accessories to make an avatar look cooler; in-game boosts to outdo other gamers; emotes to let characters do special actions; ads to promote personal games; or access to private servers to only play games with certain friends.
Sadly, some users have discovered ways to scam children out of their Robux. They may give kids the chance to double their Robux for a fee or offer them a discount on a clothing item.
Scammers usually get their Robux while kids are left with nothing.
The loss might seem innocent, but Robux is purchased with real money. Kids have to be taught to ignore deals offered by other players and to speak with their parents if anything feels fishy.
2. Online predators
Wherever kids gather online, predators are sure to follow. Roblox, a platform overwhelmingly played by minors, is no exception.
It isn’t hard to find stories of kids being groomed on the platform.
Predators troll popular places to target children, evaluating which players are the most vulnerable.
They approach kids through a direct message or even in a group chat, asking to be added as a friend.
Over 60% of the time, online predators meet their victims in the chat rooms of popular games and social media platforms.
After establishing trust, they invite the child to chat on third-party platforms like Snapchat, WhatsApp, or Instagram. These social media sites are more flexible than Roblox and allow users to send video, audio, or photos.
Despite Roblox’s safety and monitoring features, no platform can ever provide adequate protection with an estimated half a million online predators threatening our kids each day.1
Children are safest when parents take a few precautions before they play. Teach kids not to chat with or accept friend requests from strangers.
It’s also important that they never accept invitations to connect on third-party platforms with people they meet online.
Make it OK for kids to come to you when they have made a mistake by responding to a stranger they met online.
Unless chat controls are set to “No one,” there is a group chat within every game that all players can use.
Look into parental controls. Roblox lets parents limit who can message or chat with their kids. In fact, the messaging options and chats can be completely turned off.
This is the only way to ensure that your child cannot be contacted by strangers.
Parents who choose to allow chat can consider regularly reviewing their children’s chat and messaging history. Messages can’t be removed, so inappropriate communications won’t be deleted.
The more informed parents are, the better they can help keep their kids safe.
3. Inappropriate content
While most content on Roblox is kid-friendly, parents have reported their kids finding sex rooms, strip clubs, and other sexually explicit experiences.
There are also violent games with blood on the floor and walls, where the sole purpose is to kill other users. Other experiences make reference to drinking or using drugs.
Public chats can further be a source of inappropriate content. Users can say racist, hateful, or inappropriate things if they find ways around Roblox’s filters.
Also note that game developers can include links to YouTube and other third-party sites in the description section of their games. These links could lead to unsuitable channels and sites.
It is also important for parents to understand that no parental control system is perfect. On a platform like Roblox, with millions of users and the ability for anyone to create new games, there will always be some level of risk.—Josh Nelson, Campaign Director for ParentsTogether
Because it is possible to find sexual, violent, or drug-related content on Roblox, it can be an unsafe place for kids to explore on their own.
To protect kids, parents can set limits on where children play by only allowing them to play in common areas of the home.
Additionally, we can regularly review a list of the games kids have tried by selecting “Continue” on the Home screen.
“Account Restrictions” in the “Privacy” tab of “My Settings” can also be enabled. This will limit the games kids are allowed to play to those vetted by Roblox in accordance with criteria similar to ESRB’s guidelines for children ages 10+.
The account restrictions will still allow children to see every Roblox game and read its description, but they won’t be able to play any games that are not on the designated list.
4. Bullying, profanity, and chats
The Roblox chat function enables players to interact socially, but it also poses problems for young people.
Kids can be bullied for all sorts of things—the way their avatar looks, making mistakes in a game, or for no reason at all. Bullies can be a simple annoyance or they can be hurtful.
The only way to ensure that your child cannot be contacted by strangers is to completely turn off chat in Roblox.
Although the public and private chat filters block inappropriate words and replace them with hashtag symbols (#), users are finding ways around them. This can expose your child to profanity, racism, and hate speech.
Additionally, bad actors have found ways to get around Roblox’s restrictions on posting websites within chats.
This could lead to children accessing inappropriate websites and servers outside Roblox.
The simplest way to protect children from these dangers is to limit who can chat with them or turn off chat completely.
5. Excessive screen time
Every parent understands this risk. Roblox is fun and designed to keep players on the platform.
We can put measures in place to ensure our children don’t spend too much time on the screen. Setting clear expectations and implementing a family media plan can help.
How to Keep Kids Safer on Roblox
Any digital service that relies on user-generated content presents inherent risks for kids, and Roblox is no exception.
Still, the platform offers a more robust set of parental protections than most other apps. So while Roblox can be dangerous for kids when fully unlocked, it can be a safer game when parents take advantage of the following settings.
Even with parental controls, Roblox is not recommended for children under the age of eight.
Turning this setting on will only allow children to play games on a Roblox-approved list of experiences.
This feature turns off all chat and messaging services automatically.
Go to “My Settings” > “Privacy” > toggle “Account Restrictions” > On
Parents are able to easily turn all communication off.
Go to “My Settings” > “Privacy” > under “Communication” > “Off”
You can also select “Custom” to pick and choose which communication features your child will have access to.
Just know that predators are devious and can find ways to contact kids, even if their chat is set to “Friends.”
Your child will be safest when chat is turned off completely.
Parents can use this option to control who can invite their children to private servers (games you need an invite to play) as well as who can see what their child is playing and join them.
Go to “My Settings” > “Privacy”
Roblox allows parents to create a 4-digit pin to lock privacy settings. This prevents children from changing any safety settings without parental consent.
Go to “My Settings” > “Parental Controls”
Other helpful features for families
Today’s technology is constantly evolving. For instance, Roblox is working on creating a rating system that will provide parents with information about the individual games on their platform.
While features like this will help parents protect their children, other innovations—like plans to allow audio chats on some games—present new risks for families.
Parents can see their children’s chat and message histories by clicking on the “chat” icon in the bottom right corner of the home screen or the “message” icon at the top of the home screen. Kids can archive messages, but they can’t delete them.
Parents and children can also block other users as well as report inappropriate content, experiences, advertisements, or chat messages.
Without parental controls, Roblox is not safe for kids. However, it does include a comparatively comprehensive set of tools for families.
While no filter or setting can guarantee complete protection from danger, kids will be safer when parents understand and use the features below:
To decide if you should let your kids play on Roblox, stay up-to-date on the game, understand its dangers, and use available parental controls.
Beyond this, it’s always a good idea to talk to kids about what they’re playing and join in the fun by playing with them.