Skip to main content

Parents are suing Roblox for exposing children to inappropriate content. What you need to know.

The group accuses Roblox of "falsely advertising" its platform to kids.
Parents are suing Roblox for exposing children to inappropriate content. What you need to know. Credit: Gabby Jones / Bloomberg via Getty Images

Following in the footsteps of civil groups taking a legal stance against social media and tech giants, a group of families have filed a class action lawsuit against gaming platform Roblox.

The lawsuit accuses the Roblox Corporation of "negligent misrepresentation and false advertising" of the platform, marketing the mini game hub as a platform for children while simultaneously showing underage users inappropriate or explicit content and allowing them to engage in inappropriate encounters.?The group also accuses the company of misleading parents into spending thousands of dollars on the site due to obscured prices and children's ability to make in-game purchases using fictional "Robux".

"Parents who would never let their kids use TikTok don’t think twice about letting them on Roblox, even though what they encounter on Roblox can be far more harmful. The platform’s popularity skyrocketed during the pandemic, when parents were desperately seeking social interaction for their children. But Roblox has overstayed its welcome in spaces designed for kids," wrote founder of the filing law firm Alexandra Walsh. The lawsuit notes the site's allegedly inadequate filtering and moderation policies in facilitating this behavior.

This is the second lawsuit faced by Roblox in recent months, after a northern California complaint accused the company of illegally facilitating child gambling using its in-game purchases.

On Nov. 16, Roblox issued a statement on the most recent suit: “We dispute the allegations and will respond in court. Roblox is committed to providing a positive and safe experience for people of all ages. We have an expert team of thousands of people dedicated to moderation and safety on Roblox 24/7, and we act swiftly to block inappropriate content or behavior when detected, including sexual content which violates our Community Standards.”

Families involved in the suit claim their children were shown nude avatars, avatars engaging in intercourse, and the use of sex toys, as well as virtual strip clubs — it's not the only instance of a social gathering and gaming platform facing backlash for inappropriate content in virtual children's spaces.

In 2022, Meta's virtual reality Horizon Worlds was criticized for potentially exposing young users to hate speech and harassment, leading the site to institute protective features for minor accounts.

What to know about Roblox and children's online safety

While Roblox has evolved over time as a site for adult gamers — incentivizing a wider audience with brand and celebrity collaborations and even hinting at adult-oriented virtual experiences — it's still popularly considered a children's gaming platform. A demographic breakdown shows its players skew heavily into the Gen Z age group, with players 13 years and older making up more than half of it's 70 million users.

Part of the free site's popularity stems from it's customizability, with millions of games and virtual worlds (or "experiences") for users to play and use as meeting sites for friends. But the platform has long been criticized for mismanaging the sheer expanse of its game offerings. Common Sense Media, a nonprofit children's media watchdog, issued a warning to parents in 2022, noting the prevalence of violence, profanity, and even sexual and racist content. Common Sense Media has also pointed out the possibility of young users coming across "ODers" or "online daters" seeking romantic and sexual encounters.

To address growing concerns, Roblox has instituted several safety features — such as monitoring teams, chat filtering, password-locked pages, and limitations on experiences and spending — as well as additional resources for parents and caregivers. The platform also requires children under 18 to get parental consent before making an account, and users 12 years or younger have posts and chats automatically filtered for inappropriate content and personal information.

Common Sense Media has published its own parental guide to Roblox, and other safety groups have issued similar walk throughs of Roblox parental controls and general online safety. Settings recommendations include:

  1. Enabling "Account Restrictions" for minor accounts.
  2. Limiting or disabling chat settings.
  3. Turning on "Allowed Experiences" to restrict young users to only age-appropriate experiences.

While instituting parental controls may reassure worried caregivers in the short term, many advocates (and those seeking legal recourse from tech giants) see the protection of children-focused safe spaces online as the company's ultimate responsibility.

And user-side safety controls can only go so far, especially as Roblox expands it's interaction model with a new 1:1 chatting experience launched just this week, known as Roblox Connect.

"Roblox is an astoundingly popular platform, on par with Barbie and Lego as a one-word brand name that sparks trust among parents and educators. But it’s a misplaced trust and is completely undeserved,” wrote Anne Andrews, a partner of participating law firm Andrews & Thornton. "Roblox claims it goes 'above and beyond' to keep kids safe, but the systems that monitor lewd behavior often fail, and the platform makes it nearly impossible for parents to monitor, track and quantify where and how children spend their money."

Recommended For You

Trending on Mashable

news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news