Both my elementary-aged children LOVE to play Roblox. It was confirmed last week that Roblox voice chats will appear sometime in 2021. My kids are thrilled and I am horrified. If you are a parent of a younger child who plays Roblox, here is what I know and what you should be on the lookout for…
What is Roblox?
Roblox is a game created in 2005 that is played on tablets, phones, and desktop computers. You must create a profile that includes your birthday to play. Within the Roblox game, there are over 15 million games to choose to play. Popular ones include AdoptMe, Royale High, and Bloxburg. They all have different goals and challenges.
Users can change the look of their character (and love to do this!) and chat by text both within the games and privately. Much like social media you “add friends” in the main game and can easily see what games your friends are playing when online and join and play with them.
The game is free to play but each game offers purchases for special things. “Robux” is the currency used in the main game and is used to purchase items in each game separately. In the settings on our accounts, I have chosen to make my child “ask” me online before a purchase is approved. They enter their password to request the purchase and then I approve from my device.
You may choose to not allow your child to spend money on games. You definitely don’t want to let smaller children be able to purchase without approval because the charges can add up. We allow our kids to use their allowance towards Robux and once the tooth fairy left Robux when she was short on cash!
Current Roblox Chat Settings
Roblox games have the ability to chat in a public chat setting and message in a private setting. Inappropriate words are replaced with dashes in the chat automatically. Of course, kids can find creative ways around this by misspelling a word or using abbreviations. According to Roblox’s Vice President of Engineering, Adam Miller, all chats are filtered to block profanity and personal information. Chatting can be disabled completely on an account or it can be set to only chat with “friends.” The problem is some kids “friend” others even if they do not know them. Parents, we have to set firm guidelines with our children on this and check in often on what they are doing.
Roblox Voice Chats- What We Know
There is no firm release date on Roblox Voice Chats at this time but 2021 is the target year. This could be weeks from now but more likely months. As promised in the above video link, safety is a high priority for Roblox creators. Rumor has it that voice chats could be allowed only for accounts with ages 13+ linked to them and/or could be limited to only “friends.”
While these would be great safety precautions we all know that our children’s accounts could easily have an incorrect birthday, the kids can create new accounts easily (and many do calling them “alt accounts” or alternate accounts). Note that entering an incorrect birthday (specifically the birth year) is a violation of Roblox rules. Another rumor circulating is that Roblox will limit voice chatting to the users that are closest (as in standing near you in the games) rather than just anyone and everyone.
This rumor seems to carry the most merit to me so far just based on the game logistics. Voice chatting must be limited because hundreds if not thousands of users can join a certain game.
Roblox Voice Chatting- Concerns as a Parent
I am anxiously waiting to hear the details of the new voice chats feature. My kids are very excited about it but I have already warned them that I may disable it on their accounts if I feel it is unsafe. We have had numerous talks about sharing personal information and how you can easily reveal personal details when having conversations with strangers and not realize it.
This can never be driven home hard enough in a child’s mind in my opinion. We cannot just let them go with wild abandon because we have had these conversations with them. They may not like it and may not like me but I will choose to block the voice chatting if it puts my child at risk.
While Roblox may be taking every step possible to block profanity and the sharing of personal details, you and I both know that people can be downright mean. I worry about the hurtful things others can and will say to my children in this scenario.
While it is one thing to see something written in chat (and yes hurtful) to hear another person’s voice actually saying those hurtful things would be even more hurtful. I do not want to raise my kids in a bubble of never being hurt but I also don’t want to serve them up to be torn down by strangers either. Life is hard enough. I will protect them where I can.
I am not an expert in the gaming world by any means but as a typical run-of-the-mill parent, the above concerns jumped out at me. I could share a lot more about online gaming worries and fears from a parent’s point of view, but I am going to close with these tips on ways you can learn more.
Ask your kids about what they are playing!
Start a conversation with them about what their favorite games on Roblox are and why. Ask them who they are friends with in the game. Ask them to show you their favorite games and sit and watch them play a while. Be sure not to use a condemning or angry voice but come from a place of genuine curiosity and interest.
Your kids will be thrilled you are sharing an interest and you can bond with them all while checking things out for yourself. Do not get angry with them if they are young and you find they have been chatting with others they don’t know. Explain to them why this is not always safe. We shouldn’t get angry with our kids when they don’t know the things we were supposed to teach them.
Research! Research! Research!
Do a google search for the games that your children are playing online. Read the pros and cons. You will have to wade through a bunch of youtube videos made by famous influencers but it will be worth it to learn more about what your child is doing.
Be strong enough to set boundaries.
You are the parent and as the parent, you must be willing to do the hard things at times. Set the restrictions in the game if you feel the need. Explain to them why also. I like to use the statement “I love you too much to put you in danger. This activity could be dangerous so I am disabling it.”
Look at their chats. Read what they are saying to each other. Even create an account yourself and play the game to learn about it more!
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