Stalkers approach children through videogames

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Roblox, the popular online video game, is on the spotlight again due to a sexual harassment case involving a minor. There are real concerns surrounding the fact that the videogame, marketed towards children and with around 90 million users, may be used by pedophiles to approach and trick children.

Roleplaying

The case stars a teenager who played Roblox online. The child went through a sudden change in behavior that alerted his mother that something was wrong.

The mother had activated the game’s parental controls in order to stop her child from using the game’s messaging system. When the boy started pulling away from others, including activities he used to enjoy, she checked the game and found that the boy had been tricked into sending sexually-explicit messages regarding himself.

These third-party apps are often used by pedophiles to communicate with children, since they circumvent the game’s parental controls and allow children to exchange messages, send pictures and even videos.

This is not the first time Roblox has faced a case like this. Back in 2018, a 7-year-old girl was playing the game when two male avatars raped hers. The parents claim to have applied all of the game’s recommended safety precautions.

Another parent was attacked while playing, when another player asked him to lay his character down only to then lay his own on top of his, making sexual movements. When the first player tried to stand up, the first one threatened to commit suicide.

Video game controls

In the face of the controvesy, Roblox assured everyone that the game’s chat function has extremely strict filters and that any communication between the stalker and the boy was made through a third-party’s app, with no affiliation to Roblox.

This videogame platform is constantly working to improve the safety of its child users. However, there is much left yet to solve. The virtual world has many types of dangers to which anyone can be exposed to.

Security experts recommend parents to play the videogame with their children in order to understand its dynamics and how it works. It is also recommended for children to play in common spaces in order for parents to be able to keep an eye on them and keep themselves informed on what their children do in the virtual world.

Roblox online allows users to create their own games and characters with colorful blocks. It is believed that almost half of all children in the U.S. aged between 9 and 12 years old are active players in the platform, which is considered to be a particularly interesting one, since it encourages creativity and imagination. It also encourages children to develop their digital skills, social skills and teamwork.

The virtual world is vulnerable to these types of attacks, reason why it’s important to remain alert. Parents may not be as skilled when it comes to the digital world as their children, but they can provide them with the common sense they may lack when faced with particular situations.