The Dark Side of the Online Game Roblox Most Parents are Unaware of

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The Dark Side of the Online Game Roblox Most Parents are Unaware of

Sapna M

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Jun 17 · 7 min read

Roblox is making money, in billions, by exploiting our children’s vulnerabilities.

Photo by Alex Haney on Unsplash
Gaming addiction is officially recognized by the World Health Organization as a growing mental health condition. A game called, Roblox is feverishly feeding this epidemic with its expanding base of 150 million active current users, most are under 13.
Besides the addiction factor, the game has a dark side, hidden in plain sight.
This article shares important information for every parent whose child(ren) are actively playing this online game. I hope you can learn from our parenting mistake.​

Roblox, like many others, is an online game platform spreading like wildfire among children worldwide. The company generated $920 million revenue in 2020, a 111 percent increase year-on-year.

Currently, over 150 million people play Roblox once a month, and 33.4 million use it daily. More than 50% of its players are under 13 and vulnerable.

Source: RobloxWhat is Roblox?
From the Company’s perspective: “Roblox provides a fun, supportive, and educational space where your child’s imagination can thrive,” states the Roblox website. Roblox is a Unicorn Investment.

From the Parents’ perspective: A miracle online game to entertain our kids and help them cope with the mental trauma caused by the pandemic. House-bound, lonely, and bored, our kids need company, Roblox is the ultimate savior.

From the Kids’ perspective: An extremely interactive, make-believe world, where they can pretend to be someone else, and engage in activities they would never be allowed to in real life. A place for unlimited fun, minus parental presence. Roblox is a Child’s Mecca.

How did it spread?
Released in September 2006, it gained worldwide momentum in 2016 and catapulted to stardom in 2020. All thanks to the pandemic.
During the quarantine, kid-to-kid marketing generated a buzz for this game. Roblox became a child’s online BFF. Even before the parents could pronounce its name, Roblox had infiltrated their home, and taken over their children.

My 10-year-old first learned about Roblox in early 2020. Her friend boisterously declared it as the ‘Trendy-Game’ my daughter was sorely missing out on. Led by peer pressure, my daughter coaxed her dad into allowing her to play it.

When it comes to technology use we are ultra-cautious parents. We strictly kept her away from online games and play stations. In this day and age, she was the rare kid with no personal Smartphone. We were proud parents, till Roblox happened.

A peach-pulp to his daughter’s imploring requests, my husband relaxed our no-online-game rule and allowed her to play. When she created her game account he skimmed through it and found it fairly harmless and normal, like most gaming platforms.
We agreed to let her play the game as an incentive for getting good grades in school. Our reasoning was, she is a good student and deserves to have some fun, especially in this lonely quarantine phase.

Plus, we strictly limited her online playtime to an hour — that’s it. No negotiations. She willingly obliged. Her computer is in my office, allowing for a constant vigil on her game-time. Delighted mom.

From day one, she was hooked to the game. Overnight, she did not miss anything from her pre-quarantine life, her friends, playdates, parks, nothing mattered. Roblox was her new best friend. Every conversation with her revolved around some aspect of the game. She would even do extra chores around the house if, I allowed her 15 additional Roblox play minutes. It was a win-win. Efficient mom.

For Christmas, she asked Santa Claus for some Robux.
“Robux. What’s that??”
She explained it’s Roblox’s game money. She can use it to buy clothes and accessories for her Avatar.
“Ok, so help us understand this. You want to spend our REAL hard-earned money, in exchange for FAKE Roblox money, to buy fake clothes, fake accessories, for your fake game Avatar?”
Exactly.

She explained how it works. The Free Roblox version did not allow her to buy any bells and whistles for her Avatar. Plus, ALL her friends had better outfits and accessories for their Roblox Avatars. In short, she looked poor online.

“Oh, no. We don’t want you to look poor online. How much money do you need?”

She said a few dollars would be fine. It sounded reasonable. For Christmas, Santa gave her a $50 Robux Card. She was ecstatic. Smart Parents.

If you’re wondering how this online gaming platform went IPO so quickly, it’s thanks to all of us Generation Z parents.
Here’s a snapshot of how much weSmart Parents/ Users’ spend on Roblox, to fulfill our children’s vain requests.

Source: Sensor TowerSo, what’s the problem?
Everything.
Roblox, like many predecessors, is a highly addictive online game. While other online games targeted pre-teens and up, this one targets young kids, 7 plus. A vulnerable age group, whose prefrontal brain lobe is not developed and is easily amenable to addictive games and gizmos.
Ever wonder why your kid, playing a harmless Roblox game has suddenly become aggressive, irritable, snappy, and grouchy. It’s called Roblox withdrawal symptoms, and every kid experiences it.
We’re letting our children get high on this platform, in front of our own eyes. In fact, we’re willingly paying for them to get high.

While our kids are getting addicted, the game’s founders and investors are cashing in BIG on the hype.
Andreessen Horowitz, Roblox’s lead investor group put in a $150 million funding round for this popular videogame hub. Valued at 4 billion in 2020, its valuation has jumped to 38 billion in 2021.

But there’s more to its DARK SIDE besides the addiction.
It’s heavily prone to scamming and hacking

In a world of online scammers and hackers, Roblox is no less vulnerable. My daughter was scammed for her Robux money while purchasing an accessory for her Avatar. A game in Roblox called Adopt Me, allows for ‘Trade’ between different players and some traders are covert scammers. They are after the money that our children are spending to buy game accessories.

It wasn’t so much the scam that bothered my child, but the sense of guilt and anger at being ripped off in a harmless game. She fretted for days and did not share it with us fearing we may stop her from playing further.

Her case is not isolated.
My daughter’s closest friend was hacked. The hacker got into her account, changed her Avatar, and invited unknown players to join her game group. It was a complete violation of privacy. When this child realized she was hacked and shared it with her parents, they instantly deactivated her game account.

Another friend, much younger, had her online pet stolen and traded on Roblox’s Best Seller Game called, Adopt Me. This child was distraught for days until her parents went through a witch-hunt to find and repurchase her stolen pet from an internationally-based seller on eBay!

It doesn’t stop here.
The media is rife with parent-reported incidents of possible kidnapping plots and graphic sexual assault on a 7-year-old-child’s Avatar.

It’s creating an Alt personality in our kids
A few weeks into the game, I noticed my daughter’s growing moodiness, spats of anger, and irritability. The game became her world and she had morphed into a different personality.

I recollect sharing with my husband that I didn’t like how engrossed she is while playing and her facial expressions reflected anger, anxiety, and stress.

My concern was validated when I read Victoria Dunckley, M.D., article, “This is Your Child’s Brain on Video Games,” which states excessive video game use can lead to children’s brains being revved up in a constant state of hyperarousal, where the fight-flight response that perceives danger is too often triggered by exposure to intense stimulation and violence in a video game. This state of hyperarousal looks different for each individual and can include difficulties with paying attention, managing emotions, controlling impulses, following directions, and tolerating frustration.

It’s violent
The game should come with a disclaimer for violence and crime.
Of all the games within Roblox, the worst offender is its Top-Rated, Murder Mystery game. The game allows its players to purchase fake weapons and artillery and participate in a murder mystery scenario. Players are randomly picked to be the murderer or the victim(s) of murder. All graphically depicted in a real-world-like setting.

So, while we parents determinedly safeguard our kids from violence, Roblox is giving them free rein to indulge in acts of crime, uninhibited, under our very nose.

Roblox’s Murder Mystery game is the biggest perpetrator of infusing anger and irritation in the minds of its young and impressionable players, our children.

A year into this gaming drama, we deactivated our daughter’s Roblox account.
It wasn’t easy.
When we grounded her from playing the game, she was constantly being cajoled by school friends to rejoin it. She did, a few times, behind our back. They even tempted her by giving Robux Gift Cards. She complied and hid those from us. In hindsight, she deeply regrets it.

Finally, after realizing we were losing our parental battle against this evil temptation, we deleted the game app from her computer.
Thankfully, our daughter is back to her normal self, and we are wiser parents from this experience.

Hope this article helps parents safeguard their children from this highly addictive gaming platform. Roblox is a beast, that’s emptying our pockets and using our children as sacrificial lambs for its corporate gains.

Before this nemesis destroys the innocence left in our children, let’s stop this madness. As parents, we are unintentionally funding a gaming platform that is robbing our children’s sanity, wellbeing, and mental health.
 

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#2
These companies just want to maximize profits and they also happen to have near omnipotent control over the game itself.

That means that the gamers themselves are stuck inside a system that's very easily rigged against them, they can just lock something you need behind a paywall or make it extremely hard to get without paying. They can also just shut down the entire game at any moment.

My daughter was scammed for her Robux money
It's better to learn that way than to find out you got scammed out of real money. It might be valuable for children to get these experiences.
 
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