Recent reports have come out warning parents about the kind of content their children might be exposed to on Roblox.
Many parents have been shocked to discover that some players use Roblox as a means of targeting children for adult behavior.
Predatory behavior on the internet is nothing new. But, although most people seem to agree that this is a serious problem, there rarely seems to be any serious discussion about what parents can do about it.
Content Warning: The content of this article will be discussing the sexual and otherwise adult content in the context of a children’s virtual play space. Reader discretion is advised.
Roblox has become a modern hotbed for predators to target children
Roblox is one of the most popular online playspaces for children under 14, something which has benefited Roblox immensely. Last year, Roblox had the third-highest revenue for free-to-play games, and it saw its player count boom as many young children were kept at homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Roblox is effectively a giant play space that allows players to create, play, and build all they want, with a fully functioning microtransaction economy to fund the whole thing. But this virtual space is massive, almost too big to imagine, with players able to host their own games and join worlds both small and big.
Because the game is so popular with younger players, and the space being too massive to adequately police, and the internet affording players a certain degree of anonymity, the game is simultaneously becoming a place where malicious people aim to expose young players to adult content.
Multiple reports have already talked about the kind of adult content these individuals have exposed children to, none of which is especially comfortable to read but nonetheless must be reported on. No problem goes away by ignoring it.
Although this problem in Roblox is severe and should be handled with the gravity it deserves, there is a tendency for people to sensationalize this issue beyond its actual scale.
To be clear, Roblox isn’t some secret organization aiming to lure children into a dangerous online space to be abused in much the same way that a school park isn’t designed for that same purpose.
Rather, it’s more accurate to say that these horrible people are merely moving to where they can engage in their horrific behavior.
This distinction is important because many parents will see these kinds of sensationalized reports and decide to further restrict their childrens’ social activities, something which is itself harmful and unhealthy.
Another solution often presented to parents is the suggestion that they need to take further responsibility and fully control what their children do online, watching everything closely and denying them the space and freedom needed to develop their own identities.
However, this has similar problems and implies that parents are somehow at fault for the disgusting actions of online predators.
But the alternative can’t be to let predators continue to lurk around Roblox or similar spaces.
So what can parents really do about Roblox?
Of course, the obvious thing is that parents can voice their concerns with Roblox itself, in addition to their country’s legislative and regulatory bodies regarding this issue. But, any fix to come about this way will take a long time to go into effect.
While parents aren’t responsible for all the troubles of the world, they are responsible for their children, and when the world fails them, they are obligated to do something.
Any parent who wants to find an appropriate middle ground between putting their child at risk or refusing to let them play games at all should take the time to learn about the games their children are interested in.
Any game with a multiplayer component will likewise have the issue of exposing their child to online influences, both positive and negative.
Sometimes, it might be worthwhile to see how players communicate in these games and limiting how or what a younger player can see or engage with, such as disabling voice communication or private messaging.
For Roblox specifically, parents can look into setting up their own servers, hosting the kinds of games their child likes, and allowing them to invite friends they know from school or previous social engagements.
In many ways, the internet is still a new space, and the necessary social adaptations to deal with it haven’t been adequately developed.
Any parent still concerned about Roblox specifically could always look into finding some other game or social activity for their child that parents can be more comfortable with.
Finally, parents concerned about what kind of online content their children might be exposed to should maintain an honest and open relationship with their children.
Parents can't stop every bad thing. But, so long as the children are comfortable communicating with parents, then at least parents will be able to do something about it, rather than having to learn about it by chance.