Good Digital Parenting
Blog | Dec. 19, 2018

What Parents Need to Know About Roblox

* Chairman of the FOSI Board; President, Entertainment Software Rating Board

What do you get when you combine the user-sharing power of YouTube with the community gameplay of Minecraft? You get Roblox, an endless virtual candy store of free multiplayer games created by its users around the world.  Chances are pretty good that your child is spending hours on end playing games on Roblox with their friends, especially if they’re under the age of 13.  As a parent, you may not have a clue what type of game they’re playing on Roblox, whom they’re playing with and if it’s going to cost you anything.  Parents, worry no more!  Here are the key things you need to know about Roblox.

What Is Roblox?

At its core, Roblox is an online platform that enables its millions of users to create and share their own 3D games and experiences using custom tools.  

Although likely to be too challenging for younger kids to master, Roblox Studio tools are relatively easy for coding novices to learn.  Most importantly, for kids who are interested in developing their own games, Roblox Studio’s controlled environment provides a non-threatening space in which to experiment, create, fail, try again, and ultimately succeed in developing a real game!

Obviously, the main purpose of Roblox is for kids to have fun, but a huge side benefit is its ability to teach kids basic skills in coding, game design, and entrepreneurism – skills that are all transferrable to real life, whether it’s a team project at school, extracurricular activities, or maybe even inspiring a career in STEM when they grow up!

Is Roblox Content Suitable for All Ages?

Available on smartphones, tablets, desktop computers, the Xbox One, and some VR headsets, Roblox has an ESRB rating of E10+ for Everyone 10 and up for Fantasy Violence, which means that typical gameplay should be suitable for most kids. However, the rating also includes a Users Interact notice, warning parents that players can communicate with each other, join groups and create and share games with each other.  In fact, your child can even sell their game on Roblox!

Although Roblox proactively monitors the content created on its platform, with 70 million active users a month some offensive communications or user-generated content may slip through the cracks.  So, it’s important for parents to familiarize themselves with the robust parental controls that Roblox provides (more on that below) to ensure their children are shielded from inappropriate content or communications. 

How Much Does Roblox Cost?

Roblox is free to download and play, but also contains in-game purchases in the form of cleverly named “Robux.” Purchasing Robux is not at all a requirement to play, and many players enjoy Roblox without spending a dime. Players can use Robux to obtain new clothes, accessories, and gear for their avatar, as well as special abilities, bonus in-game content, and access to certain user-created games.  The smallest amount of Robux you can purchase starts at 400 for $4.95, but the “exchange rate” is slightly more favorable if you decide to purchase more. Alternatively, a paid monthly subscription to the “Roblox Builders Club” includes a “daily Robux stipend” as well as exclusive bonus goodies.

Parental Controls and other Safety Features

First and foremost, make sure that your child’s registration in Roblox includes an accurate birthdate! This will enable automatic filtering and other protections specifically designed to protect children under the age of 13. Being that Roblox primarily consists of user-created content, the Roblox team has integrated a variety of parental controls directly into its Settings, which is further explored in its Parent’s Guide. Roblox’s parental controls give parents the ability to curate the content their kids may encounter when playing, including options to restrict voice chat only to approved friends or turn it off entirely, create a white list of age-appropriate games for your kids, and more.  You can learn how to enable those controls here

But that’s not all!  Roblox also allows your child to block and report annoying or disruptive players.  Make sure they (and you) know how to do so.  Of course, this also creates an opportunity to have a discussion about online etiquette, which frankly shouldn’t be all that different than how you teach them to behave off-line!  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” goes a long way.  Another basic internet safety rule is to never share personal information or passwords online.  No matter what.

Concerned about the amount of time or money your child spends playing Roblox?  Whichever device your child uses to play Roblox, there are a variety of settings you can activate, including restrictions on how much money your child can spend. Some parental tools like Microsoft’s Family Settings, Apple’s Screen Time and Google’s Family Link provide the ability to control exactly when or how long your child is permitted to play games to make sure they get their homework done or don’t stay up past their bedtime playing Roblox!

Take Charge (and Sweet Dreams)!

Roblox allows kids to play, explore, socialize, create and learn in a self-directed way.  By taking advantage of all the great tools available and actively engaging with your children, you can sleep soundly knowing that your kids are having fun, staying safe, while also potentially gaining skills upon which they can build for years to come.