What Parents Need To Know About Roblox
What do you get when you combine the user-sharing power of YouTube with the community gameplay of Minecraft? You get Roblox, an endless library of games and experiences created by users around the world. Chances are pretty good that your child has experienced Roblox at home or at a friend’s house, playing fun interactive multiplayer games either alone or with their peers. As a parent, you might not have a clue about what type of games they’re playing on Roblox, the people they’re playing with, or whether Roblox will cost you anything. Worry no more! Here are the key things you need to know about Roblox.
What is Roblox?
Roblox has an ESRB-assigned rating of T for Teen, with a Content Descriptor for Diverse Content: Discretion Advised, and Interactive Elements including Users Interact and In-App Purchases. This may be the first time you notice the Content Descriptor for “Diverse Content: Discretion Advised,” which means that the app or platform in question “offers access to a variety of content. Some content may not be appropriate for all ages.” While Roblox’s millions of users are free to create and play a wide range of games, some may be inappropriate for kids. For example, a streaming platform like Disney+ (T for Teen) offers both Bluey and Logan. This is not a one-to-one comparison since video games are inherently different experiences compared to TV and movies, but most parents may be hesitant to let their younger kids watch Logan, which is rated R by the MPAA, while being perfectly fine with their kids watching Bluey, an animated series produced for kids and rated TV-Y.
What Is Roblox Studio?
Although likely to be too challenging for younger kids to master, Roblox Studio tools are easy for novices to learn. Most importantly, Roblox provides a digital playground for kids who are interested in developing their own games. Roblox Studio’s controlled environment provides a non-threatening space in which kids can experiment, create, fail, try again, and ultimately succeed in developing a real game!
The main purpose of Roblox is for kids to have fun, but there are other benefits, including teaching kids the basics of coding, game design, and (for kids that want to try their hand at selling their creations) entrepreneurism. Who knows, it may even inspire a career in STEAM when they grow up!
While Roblox’s millions of users are free to create and play a wide range of games, some may be inappropriate for kids.
It’s also sometimes possible to make Robux – Roblox‘s in-game currency – and even real money by creating and selling content on the platform (more on Robux later). While this may be a fun goal, it’s dependent upon creating an experience or item that is purchased (with Robux) by a significant number of people. You can imagine that, with so many active users and established creators, this can be a challenge! That said, it doesn’t change the fact that practical skills can be learned from creating and developing unique experiences on the Roblox platform.
How to Mitigate Risks in Roblox
Roblox proactively monitors the content created on its platform, but with hundreds of millions of active users a month it’s essential that you stay involved with your kids’ Roblox experiences to ensure that they remain appropriate. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to maintain peace of mind while helping to make sure your kids are having fun on Roblox.
First and foremost, make sure that your child’s registration in Roblox includes an accurate birthdate! This will enable automatic content filtering and other protections specifically designed to protect children under the age of 13. Because Roblox primarily consists of user-created content, the development team has integrated a variety of parental controls directly into its Account Settings, a topic further explored in the Roblox parents guide and in the Roblox FAQ.
The main purpose of Roblox is for kids to have fun, but there are other benefits, including teaching kids the basics of coding, game design, and (for kids that want to try their hand at selling their creations) entrepreneurism.
Roblox also groups games into four age-based categories to indicate appropriateness: All Ages, 9+, 13+, and 17+. The platform’s parental settings give you the ability to curate the content your kids may have access to when playing based on these age groups with Allowed Experiences controls. These also allow you to restrict voice chat to approved friends or disable voice chat entirely. You can learn how to enable those settings here.
Roblox also allows your child to block and report annoying or disruptive players that they may encounter when playing online. Make sure they (and you) know how to do so. This is also a good opportunity to remind your kids that they can come to you if they encounter another individual that is rude or making them feel uncomfortable – no matter what! While you can also create a curated and approved friends list for your kids, remember that you can also disable communication entirely if you’re kids aren’t ready to engage with others online yet.
Another basic internet safety rule is to never share personal information or passwords online. This means no sharing your real name with strangers, where you live, where you go to school… nothing! If someone says they need this information to have a good time, then the best course of action is to simply block and report them. Again… no matter what.
Many parents also tell us that screen time is often top-of-mind. Fortunately, whichever device your child uses to play Roblox includes parental controls settings you can activate to manage when your kids can play and for how long. Even better, many devices provide a solution to manage parental controls from your mobile device, either via a dedicated app or an online portal. For example, Apple’s Screen Time feature is built into Apple devices, while Google’s Family Link also helps parents keep an eye on things from a distance. Microsoft also offers the Xbox Family Settings app, which can control both Windows PC and Xbox devices.
Roblox’s parental controls are great, but you can also set parental controls directly on your kids’ devices. These controls can help manage what your kids play based on the ESRB-assigned rating information, when and for how long they can play. with whom they can communicate, and whether they can spend money on in-game purchases or new games. Visit ParentalTools.org for step-by-step parental controls guides to help.
Where Can You Play Roblox?
Roblox is free to download and play on smartphones, tablets, Amazon Fire devices, computers (both PC and Mac), and Xbox Series X|S. There is also a VR version of Roblox available for the Meta Quest 2, Meta Quest Pro, HTC Vive, and Valve Index.
How Much Does Roblox Cost?
While being free to download, the game offers optional in-game currency called “Robux.” Purchasing Robux is not at all a requirement to play, and many players enjoy the game without spending a dime. That said, players can use Robux to obtain new clothes, accessories, gear, and more (depending upon the experience) for their avatar. You can also purchase special abilities, bonus in-game content and access to certain user-created games. There are a number of ways to obtain Robux, but the most straightforward way is to simply purchase it. The smallest amount you can purchase is 400 Robux for $4.99. The “exchange rate” is slightly more favorable if you decide to purchase more. Alternatively, a paid monthly subscription to Roblox Premium includes a monthly deposit of Robux along with a variety of bonus features. Roblox Premium ranges in cost from $4.99 per month to $19.99 per month.
As mentioned, don’t forget to set parental controls to manage how much your kids are allowed to spend (or block spending entirely).
Additional Tips for Parents
While Allowed Experiences and parental controls offer parents many great choices, there are always more steps you can take to ensure that your kids have appropriate video game experiences.
We always say that the best first step is to call a family meeting and establish some household rules around video game play. By discussing video game play in your home, while acknowledging the positives, you’re setting a precedent for an open-ended, judgment-free conversation about video games. You’re also letting your kids know that, while you respect their love of playing games, there are parameters that the whole family needs to respect (including you!). Just remember to back up your household rules with parental controls if/when you need to!
Visit ESRB’s Family Gaming Guide for more information on household rules, parental controls, online safety tips, and more.