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Roblox: a parents’ guide

Still from Roblox Jailbreak game

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.

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 still

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

The games generally encourage the spending of Robux to progress, as a proportion of the money spent goes to the person who creates the game. However, the vast library of titles means there’s always the option to play something else, if the need to buy Robux for a particular game is too high.

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.

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.

Although Roblox is PEGI 7+, the user-created content falls outside this rating and may contain elements that are only suitable for older children. Setting the restricted option prevents any unchecked games being played.

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.

Healthy play on Roblox

Roblox still

The complexity and risks outlined so far can make it feel like it’s easier to just suggest your child tries something else. However, 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.

It also offers a lighthearted and familiar way for children to stay in touch with their friends – which is particularly welcome when they can’t see each other at school. Communication is mostly done via in-game text-chat. This content is monitored to ensure no personal details or inappropriate language is used, making it a good way for your child to get used to the concept of public chats, but in a relatively safe space.

You can help your child get started in this online space by playing Roblox together. Keep the game in shared family spaces, so you can see what’s happening. Ask your child about the Roblox games they are playing. Which are they enjoying? What sorts of challenges are they taking on? Who are they playing with?

It’s also a good opportunity to talk about appropriate behaviour online and digital civility. An open approach to this topic makes it more likely that a child will tell you if anything upsetting happens. Roblox, like other games, offers a way to report inappropriate behaviour.

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.

More information:

Roblox Parents Portal

PEGI Ratings

Roblox Guide on Ask About Games

Andy Robertson is the editor of AskAboutGames.com and has recently written the book Taming Gaming for parents

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