A hit online game aimed at kids could be a way for sexual predators to access children, say parents.
Roblox, similar to the Minecraft game, is described as an “immersive” game that allows players to take on a character and tour around a number of 3D sets.
But worried parents at a local school have raised concerns that their children were being contacted by adults in the game and being shown porn as well as being asked to perform sexual acts.
Now headteachers at schools in Lancaster and Morecambe are sending letters out to parents warning them about the online game.
Headteacher at Westgate Primary School, Steve Robinson said: “Three or four parents mentioned Roblox to me, hence the warning on our Facebook page. Whenever we get any sort of report that children are being accessed by adults that shouldn’t be, we let parents know and upgrade parents understanding of online dangers.
“There is a lot of stuff going on that kids access that adults don’t know about. These things need to be regulated. Do parents know their kids are accessing these games? We have sent a letter out to all parents.
“We hold sessions in school to try and help parents understand there is a threat because some of them aren’t aware of the dangers of online games.”
Headteacher at Moorside School in Lancaster, Roger Shone, said: “I have heard about this game secondhand but we will be sending letters out to parents to inform them that this is out there.
“We want parents to be forewarned so we are giving them the information so they can make their choice from there.”
On a website called commonsense media, parents have left reviews of Roblox after their children’s experiences. One parent of an 11-year-old said “This site is a bully, hacker, and pervert playground.” A parent of an eight-year-old girl said in her review that she was playing the game and saw hardcore porn images floating around.Another parent said they couldn’t allow their kids to play because online dating and sex came into the game.They said perverted adults were easily able to join the kids in the game.
A spokesmen for Roblox said: “The safety of our community is a top priority and we’re constantly assessing and improving our trust and safety measures.
“There are several safeguards in place to protect our users that utilize current technology and human oversight, including chat filtering, optional friend filtering and a moderator network.
“If users or their parents are witnessing any bad behavior in the game, we urge them to flag the ‘abuse report’ function in the game so that these participants can be handled by the Roblox team.
“Together we want to work with parents to avoid negative situations.
“We want to make sure that all users are aware of the potential challenges and navigate them through it. We would like to hear from parents if they have questions or suggestions. They can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
A spokesman for Lancashire Police advised parents to visit the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre at www.ceop.police.uk to report any online abuse.
Visit.getsafeonline.org and click on Safeguarding Children to get online safety advice on online safety for kids.