If you have a school-aged child, please read this. Even if your kids are older, still… read this.
Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve likely heard of Roblox, the online game platform that allows users to make their own games and play with other game makers. It’s quite fascinating, and from what I know from my own son’s fixation, it’s very addicting. We’ve enjoyed watching our son create really mind-boggling games and it’s been rewarding watching him focus on completing new “mods” for others to enjoy. His enjoyment was purely for enjoyment and no monetization was at play. Ever.
Being the attentive parents that we are, we never let our son play willy nilly within the games themselves, and we monitored the games he played and limited his overall screentime. We taught him the rules of internet safety and when to call for us if he wasn’t sure about something. He’s a good kid, with extremely high attention to detail and a creative side that is unmatched. So, learning what we did about a week ago was stressful and heart-wrenching. For all of us.
My husband watches YouTube like it’s TV. It is his TV. Many different topics come through his recommended feed on a regular basis, but seeing this one caught his attention and forced us both to watch. We watched the below video, after our son went to bed, and were shocked by what we learned. The creative outlet that our son had, and thoroughly enjoyed, was now tainted.
After watching the above video from People Make Games, we could no longer allow our son to use Roblox the way he had before. We had to modify the existing experience, which majorly affected his ability to play nearly everything he had previously. He was NOT happy. Not in the least.
Roblox has parental controls, but they are all or nothing, and you can’t distinguish between what you deem appropriate from what Roblox views as appropriate. There are no customizations. But here’s the odd part… Considering a large portion of Roblox’s community is supposedly for kids, once the parental controls are on, it “allows children to only access a curated list of age-appropriate games on Roblox and completely disables chat everywhere on the platform” – This in theory made complete sense and we fully expected this, however, it was then grossly obvious that every single game my son was playing, was no longer “appropriate”, and thus, could no longer play. Again, he was not happy.
We knew, and he knew, that activating the parental controls would automatically turn off chat, and we were 100% OK with this. However, it was then realized that this meant he could no longer talk to his cousin or any of his “real” friends. Once again, the controls are all or nothing, meaning we couldn’t modify it as we saw fit – Not exactly leaving it to the parents’ discretion. Gameplay with others went out the window very, very quickly.
If Roblox is meant for kids, as it’s targetted, then why would the games NOT be tailored for kids and deemed appropriate by typical parental screens? Seems odd. As parents, we intend to protect our kids and keep them safe at all times, both in “real life” as well as online. As the attentive parents that we are, we pride ourselves on being involved in what our kids do as well as with whom they play. It’s our main objective as parents. We knew the games he was playing and we allowed him to play the games that we felt were appropriate for him. Of course, this is different for every child. We blessed or turned down all of his game choices, every single time.
Then enter the video above. We had to explore the controls a bit more as we were shocked with how little Roblox actually does to protect our kids. Even if it affected how much he enjoyed it. Safety trumps enjoyment. Always.
Once he got over the shock of no longer being able to play Funky Friday, among others, he was able to find a scarce few that Roblox deemed appropriate. For example, Bee Swarm. But again, the selection was scarce.
Our son will eventually get over the disappointment of not being able to play some of his (former) favorite Roblox games. He’s (dramatically) in the stages of grief at the moment, but this will pass. It’s our job as his parents to do what is best and if that means turning him away from a platform that doesn’t have his best interest in mind, then que sera, sera.
Lastly, I choose to no longer support big businesses that clearly don’t care about the little people, i.e. us.
To access this blog post via audio, click the play button in the media player below:
You can also access this post on my Podcast, “The Mom Chronicles” by E-Family Mom wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you for your support!