What Is Roblox?

If Lego and Minecraft had a baby, it would be Roblox

Roblox
Roblox

Roblox is a trendy, international, online game platform, located on the web at web.roblox.com  So, while it's easy to think of it as a single game, it's really a platform. That means folks using Roblox create their own games for others to play. Visually it looks like a marriage of LEGO and Minecraft.

Your kids may play it or your kids may have asked to be part of Roblox. Should they be? Well, here's what a parent needs to know about the game system.

Is Roblox a game? Yes, but not precisely. Roblox is a game platform that supports user-created, multi-user games. Roblox refers to this as a "social platform for play." Players can play games while seeing the other players and socially interacting with them in chat windows.

Roblox is available on most platforms, including Windows, Mac, iPhone/iPad, Android, Kindle Fire, and Xbox One. Roblox even offers a line of toy figures for offline imaginative play.

Users can also create groups or private servers to play privately with friends, chat on forums, create blogs, and trade objects with other users. Activity is more restricted for children under the age of 13. 

What Is the Object of Roblox?

There are three main components to Roblox: the games, the catalog of virtual items for sale, and the design studio for creating and uploading content you create.

Roblox is a platform, so what motivates one user may not motivate another.

Different games will have different objectives. For example, the game "Jailbreak" is a virtual cops and robbers game where you can choose to either be a police officer or a criminal. "Restaurant Tycoon" lets you open and run a virtual restaurant. "Fairies and Mermaids Winx High School" lets virtual fairies learn to hone their magical abilities.

Some kids may be more into the social interaction, and some may prefer spending time customizing their avatar with both free and premium items. Beyond playing games, kids (and grown-ups) can also create games that they can upload and let others play.

Is Roblox Safe for Younger Kids?

Roblox abides by Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which regulate the information children younger than 13 are allowed to disclose. Chat sessions are moderated, and the system automatically filters out chat messages that sound like attempts to disclose personal identifying information like real names and addresses.

That doesn't mean that predators could never find a way around the filters and moderators. Talk with your child about safe online behavior and use reasonable supervision to make sure they're not exchanging personal information with "friends." As a parent of a child under 13, you can also turn the chat window off for your child.

Once your child is 13 or older, they'll see fewer restrictions on chat messages and fewer filtered words. It's important to make sure you keep in communication with your middle and high school aged child regarding online social platforms. Another thing older players should watch out for is scammers and phishing attacks.

Like any other gaming platform, there are thieves who will attempt to get access to their account and rob players of their virtual objects and coins. Players can report inappropriate activity so that moderators can deal with it.

Violence and Younger Kids

You may also want to observe a few games to make sure you find the level of violence acceptable. Roblox avatars resemble LEGO mini-figs and not realistic people, but many of the games involve explosions and other violence which might cause the avatar to "die" by breaking into a lot of pieces. Games can also include weapons.

Although other games (LEGO adventure games come to mind) have a similar gameplay mechanic, adding the social aspect to gameplay may make the violence appear more intense.

Our recommendation is that children be at least 10 to play, but that may be on the young side for some games. Use your best judgment here.

Potty Language

You should also be aware that when the chat window is up, there's a lot of "poop talk" in younger chat windows. The filters and moderators remove the more traditional swear words while leaving a little "potty" language in, so kids like to say "poop" or give their avatar names something with poop in it.

If you're the parent of a school-age child, this is probably unsurprising behavior. Just be aware that your house rules about acceptable language may not conform to Roblox rules. Turn off the chat window if this is a problem.

Designing Your Own Games

The games in Roblox are user-created, so that means all users are also potential creators. Roblox allows anyone, even players under the age of 13, to download Roblox Studio and begin designing games. Roblox Studio has built-in tutorials on how to set up games and 3-D worlds for gameplay. The designing tool includes common default backdrops and objects to get you started.

That does not mean there's no learning curve. If you want to use Roblox Studio with a younger child, we suggest they will need a lot of scaffolding by having a parent sit with them and work with them to plan and create.

Older children will find a wealth of resources both within Roblox Studio and in the forums to help them develop their talents for game design.

Roblox Is Free, Robux Are Not

Roblox uses a freemium model. It's free to make an account, but there are advantages and upgrades for spending money.

The virtual currency in Roblox is known as "Robux," and you can either pay real money for virtual Robux or accumulate it slowly through gameplay. Robux is an international virtual currency and does not follow a one-to-one exchange rate with US dollars. Currently, 400 Robux cost $4.95. Money goes in both directions, if you've accumulated enough Robux, you can exchange it for real-world currency.

In addition to buying Robux, Roblox offers "Roblox Builders Club" memberships for a monthly fee. Each level of membership gives kids an allowance of Robux, access to premium games, and the ability to make and belong to groups.

Robux gift cards are also available at retail stores and online.

Making Money from Roblox

Don't think of Roblox as a way to make money. Think of it as a way for children to learn some basics of programming logic and problem solving and as a way to have some fun.

That being said, you should know Roblox developers do not earn real money. However, they can be paid in Robux, which can then be exchanged for real-world currency. There have already been a few players who have managed to make considerable real-world money, including a Lithuanian teenager who was reported to have made over $100,000 in 2015. Most developers, however, do not earn that sort of money.