Roblox Studio: What about child safety?

Other posts about Roblox Studio:
What is Roblox Studio?
Getting started with Roblox Studio in the classroom or library.
Why use Roblox Studio?

A concern that I had early in our Roblox Studio journey was for my responsibility to keep young students safe when entering an online environment. Roblox Studio is a programme that students download onto their computers to work offline so in this form, there are no online risks for students. While Roblox Studio does work offline, a Roblox account is required to begin game building and this account can only be made online. I initially created a library Roblox account so that students did not need to create their own accounts which meant that they would be unable to login at home and this allowed me to closely observe any risks. I did this because I was still learning about how Roblox worked and did not want to be encouraging students into an online environment that I was unprepared to support them in. Using a library account has turned out to be an ideal way for novice students to get the opportunity to explore Roblox Studio without the need to formally enter the Roblox environment by creating their own account.

Here is some advice from Roblox to help students create and manage their own accounts safely.

It is very important in this discussion about Roblox accounts to point out that many, many students already have their own Roblox accounts that they have created at home in order to simply play Roblox games online. For these students, it is very rarely evident that parents are aware of the implications of creating this account. Many students have created these accounts themselves at home using false birth dates. I could see this when they logged in and there was no “<13” indicator on their account homepage. This is a significant concern although out of my direct control if they have created these accounts at home before coming into the library. This led me to create an information page online for parents (Roblox also have this information page for parents and this one for teachers) and an information handout directing parents to this page highlighting their role in helping their children create and manage their Roblox accounts. I advise that students must use their accurate birth dates to ensure that an under 13 account is created for them in Roblox. This adds additional protections for students in the Roblox online environment.

Figure 1: Registering a parent email with a student account.

Roblox is a member of the “KidSAFE Seal Program” which means that it is independently reviewed and certified to meet standards of online safety and privacy for minors. I also encourage parents to register a parent email in their child’s account which gives them access to additional safety features built into Roblox such as managing in-game chat and messaging settings, viewing friends and followers, viewing chat and trade history (See Figure 1).

In many ways this is similar to visiting a public playground with your own children. You would not leave them unsupervised, you would be wary of unfamiliar adults in the vicinity of your children, you would act instantly if you had any concerns for your child’s safety in that playground but you also see the wonderful benefits of accessing a well designed and curated public playground. In the two years of using a library account extensively, we have experienced no instances where I felt threatened or in any way concerned for the safety of the children using this account. That said, I have always supervised these sessions and ensured that every screen was publicly visible. I also have frequent discussions with students emphasising that if they are surprised by a popup window or something that happens in Roblox Studio that is out of the ordinary or worries them, that we need to discuss their experiences and investigate further to see what is behind what they have observed.

Any instances of concern can be reported to Roblox and can lead to account suspensions – I have not had experience of this personally but other Roblox users I have talked with over the years have reported instances when Roblox had moderated user access if they were not operating in compliance with Roblox guidelines.

The Roblox Community Rules are extensive, well thought out and well supported. “User terms of use”  are similarly thorough and clear. “Roblox helps power the imagination of our users. Those users are of all ages and come from around the world to create adventures, play games, roleplay and socialize.  We strive to create a community that balances the needs, safety and interests of this truly diverse user base”, Roblox Community Rules .

As in any public play environment (play cafe, play ground, theme park, cinema, or restaurant) there are no guarantees of complete safety however there are very important steps whereby we can do everything we can to ensure the safety of the children we care for. Roblox is no different. With all this in mind and backed up by the extensive safety measures implemented by Roblox, I have no hesitation in recommending that parents create accounts with their children.

:: Download Roblox Studio here.
:: Roblox Help and support website.
:: Roblox Corporation homepage.
:: Roblox Developer site.
:: Roblox Education support.
:: Roblox blog.
:: Download Roblox game player.

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