Parents' Ultimate Guide to Roblox

Is Roblox safe for kids? How does it work? If you are deciding whether Roblox is safe for your child, here is a comprehensive guide to determine if it is suitable for your child and how you can set it up as safely as possible.

Roblox is a gaming and social-network app aimed at young people aged 12+.  The experience it provides leans heavily on communication skills and it can be a gateway for would-be game developers to start creating.  It is available across many formats including iOS, Android, Amazon and Windows.

An open, social network-based app for children that, while free to download, encourages players to spend as they play was likely to attract controversy and it has.  This review of Roblox focuses on whether Roblox is safe for kids.


Parent Guide for Roblox

What is Roblox app?

Roblox is, for many kids, the greatest thing ever. For some parents, it is a great concern. Essentially, it is a social network and a collection of games that all encourage interaction and communication with other players.

How does Roblox work?

The Roblox app is like a container for many games all of which are multiplayer and share a graphical style. Beyond this, they vary greatly in theme and the experience they offer.

Anyone can publish games to Roblox and so there are a great many on the platform although you can choose to restrict the player to those developed or approved by the owner of the Roblox platform.

Roblox app's games all have a social element and the chat window within each one lets players talk generally and plan how to solve the task at hand. They can also chat using the app outside of the individual games.

Is Roblox easy to use?

Children's app's don't get to reach the popularity of Roblox without being easy to access. The carefully designed controls and interactions of the core experience have been honed by the feedback from millions of players over the years it has been available.

How will kids benefit?  

Roblox is a varied, entertaining and continually evolving digital playground for kids. They can play games and chat with friends. They need never feel isolated or lacking company as there will always be activities and opportunities to play in the app.

The success of Roblox shows that this is a much-appreciated and well-loved app but does it have any downsides?

Roblox does not require players to spend money and is very generous in what can be done for free. It is, however, very cleverly and persuasively designed.

Be prepared for children to want to spend money. Just like in a real playground, no child wants to feel worse off than their friends. Roblox might be another way in which less affluent children feel left behind their peers.

Roblox is an app with a social aspect. Children can meet real-life friends and make new ones they know only through the app, in the virtual Roblox world. They can chat freely with them. Children who have not paid to access a certain game or who do not have the funds to purchase cosmetic items, might feel that they are missing out compared to others.

These are not unlike situations that children encounter in real life but with Roblox, it takes place in their home on their mobile devices. This can make it much harder for children to switch off and enjoy the feeling of safety that home should bring them.

What we love about Roblox?

Roblox is great fun and very appealing to kids as shown by the huge player base and associated merchandise. Its games are full of social interaction and entertainment.

Playing the games in Roblox can also be a gateway for new learning and creativity. The tools for making games that can be published on the Roblox platform are free to download. The game-making tool is not as simple as playing the games but it is well supported with educational content and guides. Motivated young learners could certainly use it to begin making their own games and to learn coding and design

What skills does it improve?

One of the biggest worries about Roblox for parents is also one of its biggest strengths. It is a very social experience and therefore is great at building teamwork and communication skills among its players.

Players who want to create as well as play can be introduced to Roblox Studio which lets them design items and create games of their own. Once they take part in this, they will be learning about planning, coding, art, independent learning and more.

What age is it appropriate for?

The initial download of this app is rated at 12+ meaning that the core experience of Roblox is intended to be safe for kids of that age and above but as you'll see later in this Roblox review, this rating is easily breached if the app is not set up correctly.

Note that the communication aspect of Roblox adds a variable that cannot be fully accounted for in the age rating.  

Is Roblox safe for kids?

is what you might be searching but you are asking:  Is Roblox safe for my kids?  A better question still would be: Is Roblox safe enough for my kids? Those who choose not to use Roblox take no risks in their choice but many parents clearly think it is safe enough to use. Neither choice is right or wrong. The correct answer depends on you and your child.

Roblox's website provides parents with the guidance they need to take the above precautions but parents must read them. Roblox should not be an unconsidered download. Are you happy with managed risk for your child? Do you feel that the social interactions offered by the app are beneficial to your child? Do you feel confident in managing the app?

If you do download, you must put in the time to understand what Roblox is and how it works. Only then can you set up the app in a way that protects your child as fully as possible, understand the risks that come with the app's use, and protect your finances from over-eager spenders.

Roblox is fun, entertaining, and can be educational. It is not, however, a 'must-have' purely for educational uses. Children will do just fine without it but they will have a lot of fun with it that might lead to some effective learning.

Only you, as a parent, can decide if you are confident that you can provide the guidance and supervision required to ensure you have peace of mind in regards to your child's safety. Only you can decide if your child has the right mindset to use Roblox as you would wish them to.

How much does Roblox cost?

Roblox is free to download but uses what is known as a freemium model. Parents might remember computer games as one-off purchases but that is not the case for freemium games. These games are free to get hold of but are restricted in some way unless purchases are made.

In Roblox, the game is unlocked and enhanced through spending Robux a form of virtual currency. How do you get Robux? You pay for it with real money.

Players can be thoroughly entertained in Roblox app without ever spending anything. The app doesn't force players to spend money but it does provide strong incentives to do so.

Some of the most popular Roblox games can't be played without spending money but there are plenty of other games to play. Items can be bought in the game that change how a player's on-screen character appears but players can just stick with the standard look.  

Will kids want to stick with the free content of Roblox alone? This ties in with some of the concerns you may have read about regarding Roblox and is discussed later in this Roblox review.

How will parents benefit? Is Roblox safe to use?

Each parent will consider the risk and benefits associated with Roblox differently. Some consider it to be a risk not worth taking while others feel that any dangers are not unique to this app and can be managed.  

Safeguards are built into Roblox According to the developer, both automated and human-based controls exist to minimise the risks to children. Parents can also choose options to ensure that their children use Roblox only in a way that they have approved. They can and should supervise the app's use.

Social Networking

Children can communicate with other players and form social networks with them. This is a risk but it is also a benefit. Children get to take their first steps in a social-media world within the app's safety controls.

All communication, real and virtual, carries the risk of unpleasant or dangerous behaviour. Roblox, like any social network, has attracted users who are not who they say they are or who wish to misuse the platform in some way. Also, real-life bullying might follow players into the virtual world of Roblox.

On the other hand, loneliness and poorly developed social skills harm children's mental wellbeing. Children have celebrated each other's birthdays in the virtual world of Roblox when the real world was locked down. Weekends that might have been spent playing solitary computer games are instead spent chatting and having fun with other children.  

Roblox Safety Options

In the settings, you can finely tune how the chat and follow facilities work. Chat can be open to everyone, blocked completely or available only with friends of the player. Who can follow and befriend each player can also be restricted in a similar granular way.

Automated systems within the app attempt to watch out for inappropriate chat and block it out. As well as the obvious words and phrases, this is also sensitive to the divulgence of personal information and will try to blank this out too.

It cannot be guaranteed that these systems will provide 100% security but they do provide significant mitigation. 

The risk of inappropriate games

As anyone can create and upload games to Roblox, the age rating on the app stores cease to have any meaning once new games are downloaded. The creative freedom of game makers makes Roblox vibrant and entertaining but parents are right to worry that that freedom can be abused.

Roblox Safety Options

When parents create their child's account they are asked for the child's date of birth. Even if you are accustomed to entering a false date of birth in such forms, keep it close to the real date. The age gathered from this detail can be used to restrict the types of games that can be accessed by each user.

If you are not convinced that all of the games on Roblox accurately reflect the given age rating, you can also choose to enable game restrictions. The only options available then are curated games, meaning that Roblox has checked them to be exactly what they say they are and have an appropriate age rating. This will hugely reduce the available content to your child and may mean that they cannot play games that their friends can but you will cut out any unapproved content.

The cost

An app of such scope and polish could never have been free and despite what is next to its entry in the various app stores, it is not. It will be a rare child who does not want to enhance their Roblox experience with a little (or a lot of) expenditure. News stories have emerged of players costing their parents huge sums.

Finance Controls

Careless control of Roblox accounts can prove to be an expensive lesson for parents but careless control of any account to which a payment method is attached is a mistake, whatever app or service to which it is linked. With due care, parents might see Roblox as an opportunity to teach about finance, budgeting, saving, and making choices.

Ensure that you set up the Roblox account so that your approval is needed before any real-world money is spent. Stay disciplined. If your child asks you to enter your password or PIN, make sure you see what it is being used for and that you retract your permissions before handing the device back.

Loot Boxes

Some of Roblox's games use loot boxes which are controversial. This is not to do with what they cost but what they are, which is unpredictable. Players buy them hoping for something special but the odds favour them getting something ordinary.  

The joy at 'winning' and the anticlimax of 'losing' based purely on chance is concerningly close to the psychological states of gambling. Loot boxes in computer games in general, not just Roblox, have been accused of promoting uncontrolled spending and of inducting children into gambling as an experience.  

Loot Box Controls

At the time of writing, loot boxes are attracting research but opinions on their links to gambling vary. There are many games on Roblox that do not use loot boxes so you could restrict access to the others.

A Secure PIN

Every setting that is in the app for child safety can be locked down by a secret parental PIN that you set. Roblox takes its safety features seriously, but parents must play their part, too, and set it up right. Use the settings page and secure it with a PIN that cannot be guessed.  

Overall rating of the app

Roblox is a lot of fun and Roblox has the potential to be educational but this is not an aspect all kids will pursue. The developers have done a lot to keep the experience as safe and child-friendly as possible but this is still at heart a social experience with all of the associated risks, as well as the benefits. Roblox is awarded 4 stars - children will love it but parents need to balance that against how they feel about its risks.