Roblox recently “announced” that they were developing a content rating system for their Massive Multi-Player Online (MMO) Social Platform (Jargon, 2021). Two of my children played Roblox until I began digging into this a lot deeper. However, to help you see what I mean, I’ll start a little farther back.
David Baszucki and Erik Cassel started their company in 2004, as an MMO game creation platform. When they released it in 2006, the platform quickly disappeared in the crowd, as its creators never really marketed it. Almost a decade later, the platform began to gain popularity, as children began exploring their creative possibilities. With capabilities like dragon adventures, jailbreaks, driving, exploring Bloxburg, or the wild West (featured below), there seems to be something for everyone. Additionally, for anyone with a creative edge, you can even make your own games and host them on Roblox.
Roblox knows how to offer resources for parents and children to enjoy their time online (Digital Well-Being, 2021). Their advice for both children and parents focuses on teaching children how to handle negative and dangerous situations.
Roblox as a +13 Platform
Bypassing Chat Filters
Almost every gamer knows that the concept of using a chat filter for protection rarely works. In the case of this particular game, they filter the most explicit content, replacing words with # instead. However, by simply posting one letter per line, anyone can bypass that. Additionally, using common misspellings, or euphemisms make it easy to say explicit things. The human mind, especially those of children can imagine anything, and exploiting that in-game exposes children to adult situations at disgusting rates (think “Mad Gab”).
One Letter Words
Up racked hick gulch oak.
A practical joke
Rye doubt these dorm
Ride out the storm
Eye pillow fizz sigh
Apple of his eye
In an effort to maintain its current player base, Roblox implemented strict parental controls. Unfortunately, those depend on the child, parent, and platform to work correctly (McKenna, 2021). Which, as shown in several articles from 2017 to 2021, still fails to protect children from images of sexual encounters, genitalia, and even sex-trafficking situations (Smith, 2017; Jensen, 2018, Silman, 2020; Fitzsimmons, 2021).
- “Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (‘COPPA’).” Federal Trade Commission, 25 July 2013, https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/rules/rulemaking-regulatory-reform-proceedings/childrens-online-privacy-protection-rule.
- “Digital Well-Being.” Roblox, https://corp.roblox.com/digital-well-being/. Accessed 18 Apr. 2021.
- Fitzsimmons, Caitlin. “‘Sometimes I Experience Nothing, Other Times It’s Rampant’: Sexual Material Warning on Roblox.” The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 Jan. 2021, https://www.smh.com.au/technology/sometimes-i-experience-nothing-other-times-it-s-rampant-sexual-material-warning-on-roblox-20210123-p56wcq.html.
- Jargon, Julie. “Roblox Struggles With Sexual Content. It Hopes a Ratings System Will Address the Problem.” Wall Street Journal, 17 Apr. 2021. www.wsj.com, https://www.wsj.com/articles/roblox-struggles-with-sexual-content-it-hopes-a-ratings-system-will-address-the-problem-11618660801.
- Jensen, Thor. “The Shocking Surprises Of Sexual Content In Roblox.” SuperParent, 9 Aug. 2018, https://superparent.com/article/247/the-shocking-surprises-of-sexual-content-in-roblox.
- McKenna, Chris. “Roblox Parental Control Set-up Guide.” Protect Young Eyes, https://protectyoungeyes.com/apps/roblox-parental-controls/. Accessed 18 Apr. 2021.
- “Press Kit.” Roblox, https://corp.roblox.com/press-kit/. Accessed 18 Apr. 2021.
- Silman, Jon. “Roblox Is Exposing Children to Sexual Situations, Language.” Digital Trends, 21 Aug. 2020, https://www.digitaltrends.com/gaming/roblox-sexual-situations-for-kids/.
- Smith, Leonie. Is Roblox Safe For Kids? | The Cyber Safety Lady. https://thecybersafetylady.com.au/2017/06/is-roblox-safe-for-kids/, https://thecybersafetylady.com.au/2017/06/is-roblox-safe-for-kids/. Accessed 18 Apr. 2021.