My twin daughters (aged 11) are very into Roblox. I’m not anti-gaming and believe there are many positive aspects in general and particularly with collaborative and strategy games. However, for me, it’s important to get a handle on what they’re playing, and of course monitor their screen time.
What is Roblox?
Roblox is an online game platform, which is host to not just one game but a multiverse of different tween/teen-appealing games; 40 million-plus in fact. It can be played on desktop/laptop (PC and Macs), consoles, tablets and Smartphones. It provides a very immersive 3D gaming experience enabling players to follow, friend and play each other. In-game chat with friends and the whole shared adventure is a very compelling feature. User-generated content is also a big aspect, and anyone can create a game or virtual room.
What are Robux?
Whilst the games are free to play, many in-game purchases are available to buy with Robux, Roblox’s virtual currency, which can be bought, earned or donated. Players can speed up their progress in games by spending Robux and can also use the currency to buy accessories for their avatar.
Whilst I can’t find a definitive answer on the exact value of Robux, a £10 digital gift card will buy you 800 Robux. To put this into context, below is a small snapshot of some of the items and characters you can purchase. These range from fluffy ear muffs costing 55 Robux to the ‘Knight of the Splintered Skies’ character, which comes in at 1000 Robux. The most expensive I’ve found is the ‘Korblox Deathspeaker’ character that costs an astounding 17,000 Robux!
Creating a Roblox account and parental controls
There are no age restrictions when creating an account online. If downloading the app on mobile, the age is stated as 12+ but if you don’t have any parental controls on your child’s phone, in theory they can download this at any age. In both cases I was able to sign up posing as a six-year-old. You are required to create a username and password, which might be beyond most of that age.
To make the account as secure as possible do the usual stuff: create a password that combines alphanumeric and special characters, set up 2-step verification and make sure your child knows not to share their password even with their BFF. Roblox also warns against using personal information in the username.
The above is what is presented on signing up and on subsequent log ins.
According to Roblox, all chat on the platform (both public and private) is filtered to prevent inappropriate content and personally identifiable information from being visible on the site. For example, if someone swears on chat it appears as hashtags. This filtering is more stringent for players 12 and under. Players over 13 years of age can say more words and phrases than younger players and can also customise their account privacy settings.
Additionally, under 12s can only send a direct message to those that they’ve accepted as friends on Roblox.
Avatars and bio
From the home page you can click into the profile and provide a bio and customise your avatar. Some basic avatar changes are free (you can’t adjust the colour of the freebie clothing items) but ‘cooler’ clothing costs varying amounts of Robux; even changing the avatar’s pose usually comes at a price – the Elton John Heart Skip will set you back 100 Robux. .
Random people can request to friend you, but you have the option to decline. We’ve discussed not friending strangers and also to get confirmation on a different channel if someone claims to be an in-real-life friend.
There are also the options to block someone or report them. Friends can invite you to join games.
Gameplay and the most popular Roblox games
There are millions of games to choose from, which have different types of gameplay. My daughters mostly play games that friends have suggested; you can see what friends are playing and join in live. They also try out ones that the platform recommends.
Adopt Me! is one of the most popular games on the platform. It’s a souped up, sociable version of the 90s handheld Tamagotchi. This has fallen out of favour however with the girls.
Here are their current favourite Roblox games:
Brookhaven and Berry Avenue – these are two of the most popular role play games. Players can choose their character, create a family with their friends, get a job and go about daily life. I’m told there is no real aim to the games, they’re just fun to play with friends.
Fashion Famous – for anyone with an interest in fashion, this game sees you competing against other players to get the most stars (votes) on the outfit you’ve put together. You have two minutes to create an outfit for a chosen category/theme. There’s a vast number and it can be anything from cute animals to board meeting or yacht club party. The ultimate aim is to get on the world wide leader board.
Colour or Die – The aim of the game is to find all the paint colours ending on the white paint. Easy enough maybe if you weren’t being chased through a labyrinth by an evil monster. Players open ‘paint doors’ and find items to help them progress further in the game. This could be paintbrushes, different coloured pots of paint or things like keys, hammers, planks of wood and saws. Doesn’t sound too thrilling to me but apparently it requires players to memorise where items/doors are in order to complete successfully.
Two-player Obby – There are 100s of Obbies (plural?). These are simple obstacle courses that you need to get around with a friend. There are various checkpoints to hit and you’ll return to these if you die (which can happen if you fall). These are long-running games that require many hours to complete.
Favourite features of Roblox
Most games can be played as an individual, but being able to play with friends is the real draw be that two player games or group games. Having access to a huge variety of different games and having lots of varied experiences is also key to Roblox’s appeal.