Roblox is a user-generated virtual online gaming community marketed toward children and adolescents which claims to “create adventures, play games, role play and learn with friends.”
Once you download the free app from Itunes, you can start to create your own game or play games that others have created.
Roblox also has a chat feature, which unfortunately means that strangers can chat with your child. Kids who are 13 years old or younger can only chat with their personal contacts, but because there is no birth date verification when signing up for a Roblox account, your 14-year-old could unknowingly be chatting with a 35-year-old. Consequently, this puts kids at risk of being contacted by online predators, posing as children.
Online safety experts and law enforcement officials are weighing in on the dangers in using this app.
Cyber safety expert Susan Mclean told ABC News, “any app or platform that allows two-way interaction between your child and another player is going to have predators on it.” She also said that “primary school children, in particular should not be downloading games themselves…the notion of ‘I don’t do games, it’s all too hard’- that is not effective parenting in the 21st century.”
While Roblox has been around since 2006, there has been a recent increase in reports of children who have been exposed to inappropriate sexual material and sexual conversations while playing on the app.
One New Jersey mom reported that her 8-year-old daughter was distraught and confused by what she saw. Ingrid West said that while her daughter was playing Roblox, all of the characters had their clothes removed and a male character then proceeded to get on top of her while making lewd comments in the chat.
A father from the U.K. reportedly tried the game on his son’s Ipad after seeing a warning on the news. Lain Morrison was horrified by what he saw.
He said “I went into this waterslide room with a pool and immediately was propositioned. They said ‘hi’ so I said ‘hi’ and they asked if I was a boy or a girl and my age so I said I was an 8-year-old boy. 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 started to imitate sexual movements.”
Mr. Morrison said “It’s completely messed up. It turned my guts…If you don’t believe me, sit on it for fifteen minutes yourself and take a look.”
Corey King, a Kentucky State Trooper who educates parents on the dangers of online gaming and social media says there are more than 1.2 million apps on the market with 60,000 being released every month. “There is no way a parent who is working can really stay up on this” but warns “don’t rely on law enforcement to do it because there’s not enough of us.”
Parents need help monitoring what their children are doing online. Knowing what apps your child is using, who they are chatting with, and what content they are exposed to is not spying, it is smart parenting. Online predators are everywhere and if you are curious, stop by your local police station and ask how many calls they get a day regarding online predators. You will be shocked to hear the answer.
Social Judo is the most effective parenting tool on the market and offers parents a quick and easy way to stay on top of the potential dangers that exist in cyberspace. If you don’t already use it, sign up today. We could all use one less horror story in the news and one more child kept safe from online predators.