Roblox parents’ guide – what is it and is it safe for your child?
If you’re the parent or carer of a school-age child, you’ve probably heard of Roblox.
Launched in 2006, it’s now one of the world’s most popular video games, with more than 100 million monthly users, mostly between the ages of nine and 15.
But while it offers a dizzying amount of interactive entertainment for its target audience, it has found itself in the news more than once due to fears over its safety.
Here’s what parents and carers need to know about it – and how to ensure your child has an enjoyable and safe experience when playing it.
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What is Roblox?
Roblox is more than a single game: it’s a huge collection of different games made by a range of different creators using the platform’s built-in tools.
Players choose a game and then go online with up to 100 other people, in experiences that often mimic the sort of imaginative play you might find in the school playground – for instance build a theme park, compete as a professional driver, star in a fashion show or become a superhero.
As in the playground, these games evolve quickly from player feedback. The result is not only finely honed challenges, but also a sense of fun and silliness often absent from the commercially designed experiences elsewhere.
Is Roblox a game or a social media platform?
Although we often think of video games and social media as separate forms of interaction, for children there is no such divide – and Roblox illustrates that perfectly.
Many games now offer a way to connect, communicate and share with friends, while social media platforms often offer game-like challenges and interactions.
For many children, Roblox will be one of the first places where they interact online with other people, whether via the platform’s in-game chat options or by adding ‘friends’ and sending them messages.
Where can you play?
Roblox is free to download on all modern smartphones, tablets and computers as well as on Microsoft Xbox One, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. It’s not available on Sony PlayStation or Nintendo Switch currently. To download the game and play online you will also need an internet connection.
You can play with other people on Roblox even if they are playing on a system different to yours. Whichever system you are using, you start by creating an account that enables you to specify how you look in the game and how you interact with other players.
Is Roblox free?
You can download Roblox and start playing for free. There’s no requirement to pay for a subscription and there are no upfront costs – although on Xbox you do need an Xbox Live Gold subscription to play online.
In-game purchases are available, but these are optional. These are all bought using the game’s own Robux currency and can be used to progress faster and access cosmetic enhancements and other features. You can also spend Robux in the main user area to purchase outfits and customisations for your character.
Robux are purchased with real money. You can buy different bundles of Robux from within the Roblox app:
- £0.99 for 80 Robux
- £4.99 for 400 Robux
- £9.99 for 800 Robux
You can also subscribe to get 450 Robux a month plus discounts on buying more Robux and access to selling and trading items with other subscribed Roblox players.
On Xbox, you can make larger purchases via the online store:
- £48.99 for 4,500 Robux
- £99.99 for 10,000 Robux
- £199.99 for 22,500 Robux
You can limit spending on Roblox via the settings on your device, either by requiring a password before a transaction or simply by turning off in-game transactions. And you can avoid the need for these transactions at all by purchasing book token-style cards which let you add Robux to your child’s game without the need to add credit card details to their account.
What are the risks?
Roblox’s terms state that user-created content must not contain depictions of violence, sex or gore. But in reality, many games created by individual users ignore these standards.This is particularly concerning given that Roblox has PEGI 7 age rating on certain platforms.
Roblox states that it is committed to protecting young people, employing moderation software and removing any games that don’t adhere to these standards – but the rate at which these games are created is difficult to keep up with. Explicit content can and does slip through the net, even if only live on the platform for a short time before it is deleted. It’s important to take advantage of the parental controls available (see below), to help filter what your child can access on the platform.
Roblox has an in-game chat system. Although it is consistently moderated, it is still a space that allows for children to talk with adults online.
This is particularly concerning in the case of the ‘condo’ spaces. If you don’t have privacy settings set up that restrict who your child can talk to, they could easily search for this and be in a space with other users discussing sexual content and with sexually designed characters.
With this in mind, it’s important to make sure you fully understand the parental controls.
Roblox generally encourages the spending of Robux (the in-game currency) to progress, as a proportion of the money spent goes to the individual who creates the game. The creator can get anything from 30% to 70% of the profit.
There are lots of free titles available on Roblox, so spending money is optional. However, there can be a lot of pressure put on children to pay for games or in-game items, either from their peers or from professional streamers they may be watching.
Paying to support content creators can be a positive choice, when done responsibly, but it’s important to make sure that your child doesn’t feel manipulated by the game into spending money they don’t need to.
How to set parental controls
To play Roblox, you need to set up an account for your child. This is achieved on the device itself for PC, tablet and smartphone. On Xbox, you can link your user to a Roblox account via the menu.
It’s important that you use an email address that you regularly check, as communication about the game, including notification of purchases, will be via this address. You should also specify an accurate age, as this determines whether settings for under 13s are applied.
In the Security section of the account, you can specify an account PIN to ensure settings can’t be changed without your permission.
The most important setting in terms of content is the Account Restrictions option. This restricts the games available to play to only those that have been curated by Roblox themselves.
The Privacy settings enable you to specify how the player interacts with other people they don’t know, such as who they can message and who can contact them. It can also be used to restrict access to private games and to making friend connections that can enable other interactions.
You can report a player in-game by going to the flag icon above their name and describing the reason for reporting them. You can block a player by going to their profile, clicking on the three dots by their username and selecting ‘block’.
Healthy play on Roblox
Roblox offers really engaging and creative ways to play. Not only is it a lot of fun, but it’s a great way for children to learn how to behave online, how they want to be treated and how to treat others.
But the in-game chat and the proliferation of inappropriate games is cause for concern. It’s important to keep up a conversation with your child about the games they are playing and who they are interacting with. Particularly if they are younger, make sure you turn on Account Restrictions in the parental controls.
Approaching the game in this way, and taking advantage of the Roblox account settings and family controls on the system you are using to play, will help your child have a safe, secure and positive experience with it.
Roblox Guide on Ask About Games