Many parents have probably already heard the game Fortnite be mentioned by their own kids or by others, just like Among Us and Roblox. Fortnite was created in 2011 and has since seen its number of players increase more and more.
In August of this year, the game’s producer, Epic Games, stated that it had reached 500 million user accounts – while, last year, the number was 350 million.
Fortnite is a multiplayer online game (i.e. it allows several players to play one match at the same time) of the battle royale genre, that is, it gathers a big group of players who stay in one place searching for weapons, wood and building tools. Of this starting group, only one player or team survives and wins the match.
For this reason, whoever plays Fortnite gets very focused and tense during the match, since it’s not possible to pause. Aside from this Fortnite narrative, it’s possible to explore and discover map elements of the game, and, parallel to this, defeat enemies. In a simplified way, we can say that the last player wins – in other words, the one who survived all the battles and managed to escape other players.
The main goal within the game is to be the last one surviving, usually by winning combats against other players. In order to do that, users can play in solo mode, in pairs or in teams of four participants maximum.
Those who better explore the map, win resources, acquire items and/or establish their bases have an advantage in combat. Knowing the map is extremely important since this keeps players alert during moments of combat.
The game is free and can be played on a PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS and Android. To download the game in the computer, you need to access Fortnite’s main page, select the option “play free now” and then select PC/Mac.
The next step is to create an Epic Games account, which is the platform that hosts the game, similar to a game store. Some data are requested, such as country, full name, user name, email address and password. The game also offers the possibility of creating an account with your Facebook or Gmail logins. After filling out this information, the user must choose a destination folder where the game will be saved in the computer.
:: Read also: DISCORD PARENT’S GUIDE: How to Keep Your Kids Safe ::
Once the process of installation and user and password creation is complete, it’s time to start playing. In order to do that, you need to select the Battle Royale mode, which appears on the home screen.
After selecting the character and their skin, there are a few game mode options for the user to choose from: solo, duos and squads – i.e. the player can choose to play alone, with another player or in a team.
The game starts as soon as these steps are completed. The player starts the match on a hot air balloon or flying bus in the sky from where they’re airdropped, landing right on the game’s map.
We know games and apps have a few ways to monetize their creations, i.e. to “make money” from them, as explained in this article.
Fortnite is free to download and play – and it’s free of advertising. Then how does it make money? Through in-game purchases. Fortnite sells some items that you can use inside the game.
In the item shop inside Fortnite, it’s possible to buy Skins (character clothes), weapons and accessories to customize your character and even improve your performance in battles. The game’s currency is V-Bucks. As of when this article was written, you can buy 1,000 V-Bucks for $7.99; 2,800 V-Bucks for $19.99 and so on and so forth.
Besides the items already mentioned, loot boxes can also be bought in the store. Loot boxes are boxes with random items to customize your character. These items are sold separately in the shop, but users are attracted to loot boxes due to the possibility of finding rare items there. Loot boxes use the same mechanic used in casinos and they can be harmful to kids.
In the United States, purchases made inside Fortnite have become an issue for many kids, who are being bullied for having “default” characters – i.e. whoever plays with the character skin that they started the game with, without customizing them with items sold in the shop, is derogatorily called “default”.
This social pressure to customize characters generates a false need for consumption among kids, if only to protect themselves from being bullied in school or inside the game.
In other words, kids are not even safe and protected at home, where they’re attacked online through the Fortnite chat. This needless consumption encouraged by the game is one of the main causes of concern with respect to kids.
As we have mentioned, the player who’s the last one standing at the end of the match wins. Therefore, in addition to having to think about defense strategies, you need to shoot enemies so that they’re destroyed, which implies violent scenes.
Despite all the shootings and players “dying”, the game isn’t very realistic. The game graphic doesn’t show blood and then a player dies, what appears on the screen is the items such player was keeping and which are now available for the other player to collect.
In Brazil, the game matches were rated for people over 12 years old. In the United States, on the other hand, the recommended age is 13 years old, which is the same age that Epic Games, the company that created the game, suggested.
Similar to Among Us, Fortnite has a chat feature during the game, where it’s possible for players to talk during matches. In this case, however, it’s possible to silence the chat in the following manner:
The most important tip that encompasses not only Fortnite but many other games is to have constant, open dialogues with your kids. Communication builds trust in the little ones and it will make it easier for them to talk about any type of situation that happens in the game that seems unusual.
Written by Débora Nazário
Translated by Mariana Gruber
We can’t say that Fortnite is a violence-free game, because it’s not. There are weapons, shootings, and the game winner is the one who survives. Therefore, we reinforce that it is necessary for parents and kids to have conversations about the game.
Being interested in what your kids like and even playing with them is something that brings you closer and makes them comfortable enough to seek adult help if they feel the need.
It’s important to always be attentive when it comes to the chat feature in case it isn’t silenced, even if your kids aren’t showing any concerning signs. Asking what they talk about and agreeing with them that you’re going to check it once in a while are very important in order to protect them from ill-intentioned people.
Talking about what your kids think about that violence is also worth it, since the game tries masking this issue by giving it an air of fantasy. Many kids don’t even notice the violence and henceforth don’t treat it as such.
But violence isn’t the game’s most fragile issue. How it monetizes – in other words, how Fortnite makes money – is what parents should always be concerned about.
Therefore, our stance regarding Fortnite is that kids under 10 don’t play the game, since they don’t understand how the monetization works, i.e. that each item actually costs real money. They’re not prepared yet for this type of game model.
For older kids, talking about this issue and establishing limits are paramount. Agreements like these will change according to each family’s reality, but it’s important that they understand clearly that each item bought is worth money.
It’s also important to talk about how this affects your kids’ social lives. We’ve seen many who are bullied in school for using the “default” character in the game. Keep an eye out for this, talk about this issue and be attentive to how your kids seem before and after playing Fortnite. Many kids become anxious and only play it because they “need” to be in the same environment that everyone else is.
In spite of all this, there’s no denying that Fortnite helps to develop certain skills.
Shooting games in general develop spatial vision, since the game’s point of view is usually first-person and you need to pay a lot of attention to all the elements around you in order to shoot and hide. Agility is also developed, as well as global and focal attention, since you need to focus on one target and search for a secure place at the same time.
There’s one more thing that even Fortnite itselfs awards: buildings. The user can collect wood, rocks, ropes and tools in the game to build fortresses – hiding places that assist you in the game – and the player profits from each building. Similar to Minecraft and Roblox, this “Sandbox” type of game that allows kids to build things is very beneficial to both their spatial vision and creativity. We’ve talked about spatial vision in games here.
If your kids are starting to play computer games, it is possible that soon you’re going to hear about Discord. Here is some important information about Discord for you to know what kids are doing to play online.
Discord is a chat app. It’s quite popular within the gaming community, but it has gained popularity within other niches as well since many companies and schools have adopted the program for remote work and teaching.
Discord allows users to communicate over text, voice and/or video, through channels, groups, or private chats.
The app became popular among gamers for being a good meeting point option: it is possible to play online and talk to people on a Discord voice channel at the same time. In addition, there is the streaming option, which is when someone streams their computer screen live so that other people can see their game.
Another strength is the communities Discord forms. There are servers of the most varied themes, where users can discuss news, ask questions, give out advice and even find other players to play together.
To better understand how it works, we are first going to explain its structure. If your kids are on Discord, it is important to know the following details.
According to Discord’s Terms of Service, it requires that users are at least 13 years old to access the app or the website. This is done by date of birth confirmation during the registration that gives access to Discord. If the user is under 13 years of age, the account is blocked. Of course, many kids know this and type in another date of birth so that they can create an account, just like in many other websites and apps.
Discord takes some precautions to make their user’s experience safer, regardless of age:
If your kid is younger than 13 and is already on Discord, be aware that this is not in accordance with the platform’s rules. Maybe you can both reach an agreement to migrate to another platform where kids are allowed, but we know this may be a challenging task. If they don’t budge and you decide not to forbid your kid from playing with their friends on Discord, you need to pay attention to the following issues:
:: Read Also: ROBLOX: How to keep kids safe in the game ::
Discord doesn’t have parental controls, but there are some settings that can make your kids safer there. In order to do that, open Discord and search the navigation menu for User Settings, which has a gear icon, and then click on Privacy and Security. There are many options there that you can either turn on or off. Here are some tips:
If you or your kids see hate messages, threats, or any act that goes against Discord’s rules, it’s possible to report it. In order to do that, you need to copy the message link. You can get this link by right clicking on the message, selecting the option “copy message link” and pasting the message over DM (Direct Message, when you send a message directly to Discord) or over the Discord server, both within the platform.
It’s also possible to send an email by filling out a form that describes what happened. Here, in the option What we can help you?, select the option Trust & Safety. We recommend attaching screenshots of the chat and saving all the message links. The message should be written in English.
Written by Luisa Scherer
Translated by Mariana Gruber
Discord was created for people over 13 years old. At this age, teenagers are mature enough to deal with subjects like bullying, they notice more easily when they’re being tricked and they are aware that anyone could be on the other side of the screen. Kids under 13 don’t have the necessary skills yet to notice some of these warnings.
Despite that, Discord is a great platform to play online with friends, and we know it’s one of kids and teenagers’ favorites. If your kids are younger than the minimum age and use it either way, it’s up to each parent to decide whether or not your kids are allowed to be on Discord.
We believe it’s possible to keep kids on the platform so long as you’re very attentive. Therefore, make sure your kids know all their Discord friends from real life or make sure that they’re all the same age. It’s also worth asking your kids if you can arrange to talk to their virtual friends’ parents one day, in order to ensure that the kids are, in fact, the same age and that all parents from “both sides” are on the same page.
If your kids are under 13, we suggest they don’t use headphones when they’re on Discord. It’s easier for you to be attentive this way and notice what is being said in the channels and servers they are a part of.
Keep an open and recurring dialogue over your kids’ games and the experiences on Discord. Talk to them, be interested in what they play. This makes it all easier when they need your help. Always mention some precautions they should take, such as not accepting friend requests from people they don’t know, asking for your help when they stumble across something unusual and this type of thing.
Remember that your kids and their friends can also create servers. We recommend reading this to learn how to create a safe Discord server.
Roblox is a virtual platform that makes many possibilities available to users, from creating new games to playing other users’ productions.
According to a report published by Roblox Corporation this year in August, the platform has reached the mark of having 48 million active users playing daily. This number is expressive not only in terms of the quantity of players, but also in the hours that players spend connected to the platform: more than 4 billion hours were spent playing during the analyzed period.
This universe of possibilities has attracted many kids – as well as parents’ attention. We have already written a complete guide for parents to help them pay attention to certain aspects of Roblox when their kids are playing it.
In this article, we are going to talk about how to make your kid’s experience safer and understand a little more about how the platform works.
Roblox offers some parental control possibilities, such as limiting chat functions, account restrictions (so that the user can access only Roblox’s curated content) and age visibility, which determines the settings for kids.
Click on the security option within settings. Next to account restrictions, switch the button position to activate the restrictions. The button will turn green and the following message will appear on the screen: “Account restrictions are currently enabled”. This means you have successfully enabled account restrictions.
By doing so, no other user can send you messages, either in the Roblox app or in the game, in addition to preventing the account from being found by its phone number. All these settings can be adjusted individually, as soon as the restrictions are activated.
Blocking users is very simple: you must simply open the profile of the user you wish to block and click on the three dots on the top right corner where there is the username and friends information. A menu of options will appear on screen and among them there will be the option to “block user”. By selecting it, you block the user.
There is also the option of blocking users inside the games. In the list in the top right corner of the game screen there is a list of players, select the profile you wish to block and a menu will be displayed on the screen. After that, choose the option: block user. It is also possible to report abuse directly in the same menu, by clicking on report abuse.
It’s necessary to report abuse through this button when some user uses inappropriate language or addresses other players in a threatening or intimidating way.
Roblox offers kids parents another safety possibility: the creation of a PIN number associated with the guardian’s email address to block user settings. To activate it, you need to click on the gear icon on Roblox’s home page and then choose settings.
After doing so, type the guardian’s email address and the kid’s account password in the corresponding fields. Then, click on add email. A confirmation email will be sent to the given email address. After the confirmation process is complete, you need to refresh the settings page to activate the PIN number. Then, to activate it, click on account PIN. Once it’s activated, every setup in the future will be activated only after the password is typed in. The settings are now blocked by the PIN number.
:: You can also read: The importance of make-believe, lies and imagination in childhood ::
Now that you already know how to keep your kids safe on Roblox, we are going to explain how the game works, so that you can talk to your kids and be a part of their online life as well.
How does game creation happen on Roblox?
Before anything else you need to create an account on Roblox’s main page. After that, you will already have access to your main profile, where you can change your personal information, send and receive messages, change your profile picture and create your own games.
To start creating games, you need to download the program Roblox Studio. This program is what makes it possible to create games with the available objects and map models, which later can be published in your profile within Roblox.
Once Roblox Studio is downloaded, in the creation start menu there are the map options, where it is also possible to choose a theme or gameplay map. Players who are new to the platform can choose the gameplay option, since the game’s visuals and rules will already be established. The gameplay mode offers seven available models: Racing, Obby, Line Runner, Infinite Runner, Capture The Flag, Team/FFA Arena and Combat. Some edits are allowed, such as changing objects, switching the background between day and night and customizing the avatar. In the lateral tab, located in the left part of the screen, there are buttons to create a new map or visualize already existing ones.
After selecting the game option, it is possible to change elements within the game, such as objects and the avatar, by clicking on the “toolbox”. At this stage, it’s possible to style the game according to how the player had pictured it. To do so, the user must enable the toolbox on the left part of the screen. With it, the player can add objects and choose where to place them. If you want to alter the object surface or add effects, you must simply click on “model”.
In the theme option, the user can create a game from already existing terrains, with the following available themes: Baseplate, Flat Terrain, Village, Castle, Suburban and Racing.
By selecting this option, the elements of each terrain are filled automatically according to their own traits. Despite that, the elements can also be altered.
To those who have previous knowledge of game creation, Roblox Studio also offers the option to create a game from scratch. To do so, you should choose the base plate map, which is a blank map mode. After selecting this mode, the user can choose a terrain and, then, select the game’s objects, characters, visual and sound effects, and rules. This mode also allows the player to create gameplay mechanics with programming, especially HTML. There is the plugins tab, which offers a system to those familiar with programming and makes a more autonomous creation possible.
Kids who have learnt or are learning programming and coding can benefit a lot from this Roblox mode.
Testing the game created on Roblox Studio is an extremely important part of the creation process. In order to do that, click on the top of the Roblox Studio window and open the toolbar called testing and then play. Now it’s possible to walk with your character through the map, observing the game from a wider point of view. To leave player mode you need to simply click on stop. By doing so, the user will go back to editing mode.
Putting objects in non-strategic places – which hinder movement within the game – is one of the most frequent errors. That is why testing the game is extremely important, since that is the only way such errors can be fixed.
Don’t forget to save the game:
After following these steps, it’s time to save the game. And, similarly to other types of work that use programs, saving a copy is key. To do that, you need to click on file and then save.
Now that a copy has been saved, it’s time to publish the game. On the top menu, on the file tab, the user must click on the option “publish to Roblox”. The next screen will ask you to choose a genre for the game, whether it will be private or public, and other details such as the name and the devices it will be available to play. After that, you can simply click on create for the game to go online!
Written by Débora Nazário
Translated by Mariana Gruber
Roblox is an amazing tool and it can be very beneficial for kids. We can start by considering it’s an active activity in which kids can create new things instead of only consuming content passively (of which watching a video is a good example).
With Roblox, kids have access to games created by other users, which is an incentive for them to create their own games. The game creation process involves much more than programming. You need to think about the goal of the game, its format, characters, rules, all of its visuals, and, of course, in the technical aspects of it, which is programming in itself. All of this requires organization and focus.
By building a simple game, kids develop many skills like planning, organization, and storytelling skills; and the ability to see a project from a broader point of view and, right afterward, move on to an activity in which they need to focus in only one aspect (we call this global and focal attention) – in addition to a lot of creativity.
However, it’s a platform to which many people have simultaneous online access – and there’s a chat feature. All the games and platforms that have chats and kids using them must trigger a warning light on a parent’s mind. This is because ill-intentioned people can make contact with kids and try to take advantage of them somehow.
Therefore, read about Roblox (and all the games and apps your kids have), understand how it works and keep yourself informed about parental controls in order to activate whatever is necessary to protect them within the platform.
You have probably heard of TikTok, the social media network that keeps expanding and growing in popularity among people of all ages, but mainly among teenagers. That’s where all the famous dances started coming from – and it looks like they’re not going anywhere for a while, but instead will continue to get more and more popular.
In early July, Fernanda Rocha Kanner posted a long text in her social media accounts speaking about her and her 14-year-old daughter Nina’s experience with TikTok. Fernanda decided to delete Nina’s TikTok account, which had garnered about 2 million followers, and her Instagram account.
In Fernanda’s post, she explains the reason behind this: she doesn’t want her daughter to go through her teenage years getting emotional over compliments or criticism from strangers. She also believes that that would hinder her daughter’s search for her own individuality.
The post went viral and a lot of people reacted both in favor or against Fernanda’s decision and stance. We thought this is an interesting theme to reflect on the social media use by teenagers. To what extent is it okay? Is the limit that obvious? Is taking TikTok away from the teenager worth it?
We think everything should be discussed. After all, teenagers are their parents’ responsibility – and parents value their kid’s safety. Taking this into consideration, we think the best way forward is to sit with your kids and discuss boundaries and consequences. Teenagers may even cross these lines (they most likely will), but they will know they violated what was agreed upon together and they will have to deal with the consequences.
Before making any decisions, it’s worth remembering that the childhood and the teenage years are stages in which we want to belong to a group, we want to be accepted and perceived, to show our worth and to feel valued. That is why teenagers like social media networks like TikTok so much – with all its likes, views and followers. All of this in excess can be harmful, but we believe every generation of teenagers had a “dangerous factor”, something that the adults worried about because they didn’t quite know it, or didn’t like it, or even didn’t understand it.
Because of that, maintaining open communication is important. Okay, teenagers don’t like to talk to their parents. However, pushing a little when it comes to this subject is worth it – it makes it easier to notice when your kids might be needing help, in addition to showing them they have got their parents’ support. You see, it’s not a matter of convincing kids so they think like their parents. Instead, it’s about clarity and understanding the rules and what was agreed upon.
The minimum permitted age to use TikTok in Brazil and the United States is 13 years old. Users younger than that may have an account but are not allowed to post any kind of content. Unfortunately, this rule is not very effective, since it is possible to create an account with a different age. Kids know this, of course, and create accounts on TikTok and other social networks with dates of birth that allow them to post content.
When we create an account on TikTok or another social network, we choose between two types of profile: public and private. A public profile allows anyone to view your content and you have no control over who is able to access them. In a private profile, only your friends and followers can see what you post. If someone wants to be your friend/follower, they need to request to do so and you need to accept. In other words, you have total control over the people who access your profile and your content, and you know exactly who sees what you post.
Having a private profile keeps random strangers from seeing what your teenager posts – and it keeps you from waking up and seeing your kid’s social media accounts have gained 2 millions followers overnight.
Private profiles on TikTok and other social media apps allow only those who are friends or followers of the profile owner to view its content. Therefore, take it as a rule: only add people you already know.
The internet is still a place full of judgment, including those body-related (regardless of body type). Caution your kids against posting intimate or sexy photos that expose too much of their bodies, even if that’s not their intention.
Other users may interpret their pictures in many ways and your kids, mostly girls, can become targets of slut-shaming (which is to be called a “slut” or other derogatory terms for violating certain socially-accepted clothing codes) or body shaming (another term in which the body is ridiculed and criticized by other people).
Slut shaming is the act of humiliating, belittling or degrading someone, usually a woman, for their sex life, the way they dress, talks, or expresses themselves. An example of it is when a woman wears clothing considered short and hears complaints or negative comments about her appearance, her body and her behavior as a woman in society.
Body shaming, on the other hand, is the act of controlling other people’s bodies, i.e. when someone is bullied for being considered too fat, too skinny, or as having too much cellulite, or breasts that are too big or small, etc. It’s bullying in the form of appearance pressures. Body shaming occurs more between girls than boys, but you need to always stay alert regardless.
Both of these types of bullying target teenagers’ bodies and can contribute to them developing perceptual distortions of their own bodies and even eating disorders.
It’s also worth cautioning your kids against posting pictures of where they live, their school uniform, and other things that could identify the places they frequent and their routines. The same goes for personal information such as their IDs and social security numbers.
By doing so, you can be closer to what they post and to the people who follow them. They will most likely have a “Close Friends” group on Instagram without you, in order to post things they don’t want you to see, but that’s okay, isn’t it? We don’t want to share absolutely everything with everyone!
Dive into this world and try to understand why your kids like it so much, including the TikTok dances – if they’re important to them. Show them you’re interested in what they like. You don’t have to force yourself to enjoy it, but show an interest in getting to know their world and, above all, in understanding that it has value to them. Many teenagers don’t want their parents to like what they do, but they feel at peace when they know their parents understand that it is important to them.
Saying that the TikTok dances (which are very popular in the app) are useless or passing any type of judgment over what teenagers do online creates a negative charge around them. Think about it: if they seek validation through this content, imagine how they feel when their parents say it is ridiculous or diminish it in any way.
It’s easy for teenagers to think lowly of themselves when they hear their parents talk about the things they like in a derogatory way. For example: “TikTok dances are awful and I like TikTok dances. Therefore, I’m awful.” Of course that is not true, but it is easy to fall into this trap since it’s an age in which their identity is intricately connected to their behaviors and interests. Moreover, this drives parents away from their kids. If parents are constantly demeaning the things you like, why would you still share your interests, the things you do, etc. with them?
By taking the measures mentioned above, it won’t be necessary to make any drastic decisions such as deleting all your kids’ social media.
If this happens, deleting your kids’ social media accounts is an option, but bear in mind that they might not like this decision and may feel that you do not value something they worked hard to build. We believe that it is possible to try a few measures before doing something drastic:
If you still decide to delete their social media accounts, allow them to say goodbye to their public. Many teenagers consider their followers their support network or even their friends. Help your kids write a post or record a video saying goodbye to their followers and informing them of what is going to happen.
We know kids don’t want their parents around during their teenage years, and that’s okay. But it is important to monitor and look after them without suffocating or invading their privacy. That’s what we hope for – for everyone to be able to deal with this in a healthier way.
:: Read Also: How Games and Video Games Develop Spatial Vision ::
Written by Luisa Scherer
Translated by Mariana Gruber
Spatial vision is a well-known term for those who develop games and apps, or even amongst education professionals, but it is still rarely discussed outside these fields.
Spatial vision starts to develop when we are babies. Elizabeth Spelke is a psychologist and researcher of Harvard’s Laboratory for Developmental Studies, and she has studied children’s cognitive development since 1980.
In an article published in 2020, she stated that babies can distinguish between changes in angles and shapes in drawings. Through gestures, the little ones can also learn to develop a sense of geometry.
We spoke to Vânia Cristina Pires Nogueira Valente* about how spatial vision manifests and is improved through games.
*Vânia Cristina Pires Nogueira Valente is vice-coordinator of the Media and Technology Post-Graduate Program – Professional Masters – from FAAC/Unesp and a lecturer in Graphic Representation. She is also a professor at the Faculty of Architecture, Arts and Communication from Universidade Estadual Paulista Júlio de Mesquita Filho, and author of the book Desenvolvimento da Visão Espacial por Games Digitais, (freely translated to “Spatial vision development through digital games”).
According to Vânia, spatial vision is a set of abilities. It’s a skill which isn’t innate – in other words, no one is born with this skill, it’s instead developed throughout life.
“Spatial vision isn’t a gift, it’s something you develop just like you learn how to write or ride a bike. Spatial vision can be improved and developed and increasingly sharpened. This skill involves imagining objects and three-dimensional things and conceiving a kind of construction in your head.”
“For example, Waze is a two-dimensional map, but you can imagine the road and the corner where you will turn. The process of converting from 2D to 3D means you have a well-developed spatial vision skill. Or, when you imagine dice and see them turning in your mind: that’s spatial vision working.”
The professor states you need to develop cognitive skills before developing spatial vision. “It’s necessary to have quick thinking, a notion of distance, response speed and reflex. That is why in contact sports, in which you need to reach a goal and calculate the time to get rid of the opponent, such as football, there are several skills that are developed, and all of this helps to develop spatial vision.”
“Many of these skills, such as quick thinking and reflex, are also developed by games such as shooter games, in which the players have to get rid of their opponents and, in order to do that, they need to think quickly.
Vânia mentions the game Overwatch in her book as an example of action games that also stimulate the skills necessary for spatial vision development. Games in which there’s speed usually require response speed. Many of them also contain several elements on screen that players need to pay attention to. All these elements develop skills that lead to the improvement of spatial vision, according to Vânia.
“I like some more specific games, like Minecraft, in which you can look at objects from different points of view. You can navigate around the space, the game’s environment, and you see the same object from different positions: from the top, head-on, and from the sides. That allows the brain to put together 3D objects based on these views. I mention Minecraft to my students to exercise their spatial vision skill,” she explains.
The benefits of spatial vision development provide several necessary skills for many professions, according to Vânia.
“In my case, since I teach engineering, design, and technical drawing, students need to draw objects, projections, blueprints, aerial and front-view drawings and therefore need their spatial vision skill very well-developed.”
“I used to notice in my lessons how easier it was for students who played games or practiced action and contact sports such as football than it was for the others. Professionally it is very important to have a well-developed spatial vision, and so is for our personal lives.”
Vânia remarks that spatial vision is also extremely important for driving, since, in order to drive the vehicle, the driver’s attention must be on several places and they have to calculate the space, speed, etc.
Written by Débora Nazário
Translated by Mariana Gruber
Now that we’ve seen that many electronic games help to develop spatial vision, a question may arise: what about kids and violent games? This subject has been openly discussed since video games gained traction as a source of entertainment, at least 20 years ago.
Of course, the later violent games are introduced to kids, the better. But playing this type of computer game or video game isn’t necessarily making kids violent. Behavioral change in kids never stems from one thing only, albeit that doesn’t exclude the possibility of violent games being a trigger for aggressive behavior. That depends on how much time this kid plays every day, if there’s open dialogue between them and the parents, if their older siblings also play these games and even the kid’s personality.
Even specialists disagree when it comes to this subject. There are those who defend that electronic games do influence kids’ behaviors and those who defend that it isn’t something defined by one factor only and that there is a series of events, not an isolated one, which may lead to this type of behavior.
To this day, when it comes to this theme, it is hard to find an article which has reached a verdict. Most likely because there are many issues involved: the parents’ participation in the kids’ lives, the relationship between the kids and their caretakers, social-economical, gender, and personality issues, and so on and so forth.
One common ground between them is in relation to screen time according to the kid’s age. Several Pediatric Associations and Councils around the world recommend no screen time at all for kids under the age of 2. From this age forward, the recommendation starts with 30 minutes and increases along the age range.
Another common ground is in regards to kids who isolate themselves in electronic games, which is a warning sign. Kids who usually play on the computer and video games but take part in other activities and hobbies have a different relationship with electronics than kids who isolate themselves in the computer and in video games. If your kids are isolating themselves, you can: give them more attention, offer another type of activity, take them out, ask them about their friends, etc. Also, help them with whatever they need.
Outro consenso é em relação às crianças que se isolam nos jogos eletrônicos, que é um sinal de alerta. Crianças que costumam jogar no computador e videogame, mas que fazem outras atividades e hobbies, têm uma relação diferente com os eletrônicos das crianças que se isolam no computador e videogame. Se seus filhos se isolam, vale dar mais atenção a eles, oferecer outro tipo de atividade, fazer mais passeios, perguntar sobre seus amigos e etc, e ajudá-los no que for necessário.
A 2010 analysis from Harvard Health Publishing, from Harvard University, gathers articles from specialists from both sides of the coin. Some articles, more recent at the time, argue that “much of the research on violent video game use relies on measures to assess aggression that don’t correlate with real-world violence”. Even more important than that, “some studies are observational and don’t prove cause and effect.”
According to this document, “Although adults tend to view video games as isolating and antisocial, other studies found that most young respondents described the games as fun, exciting, something to counter boredom, and something to do with friends. For many youths, violent content is not the main draw.”
“Boys in particular are motivated to play video games in order to compete and win. Seen in this context, use of violent video games may be similar to the type of rough-housing play that boys engage in as part of normal development. Video games offer one more outlet for the competition for status or to establish a pecking order.”
Our point is: it’s not the end of the world if your kids play violent electronic games. If that’s the case and you do have some concerns, do the basic:
* For example: 7-year-old kids playing a teen-rated video game is undoubtedly inappropriate. If this happens, research similar and fun alternatives to offer your kids, in exchange for the first option. For instance, if they’re playing a shooting game, find a paintball alternative, in which the mechanics are the same, but there isn’t as much violence.
On the other hand, it is very common for teenagers between the ages of 13 and 14 to play mature-rated video games. Is it ideal? No, but forbidding them from playing only makes them feel outraged, in this case. To evaluate this case, take into account your kids’ particularities such as maturity and sensitivity to some themes and talk to them about the game’s content (guns, violence or any other theme you find inappropriate for them. At their age, an open dialogue is better than taking the game away from them).
Truth and Tales’ stance: we don’t recommend that kids under the age of 4 consume any screen content. For more details, we recommend reading this post: “Kids and exposure to screens: how far is it okay?”
This is a reproduction of an article originally published on the Child Mind Institute website. No copyright infringement intended.
by Rachel Ehmke
It’s hard to imagine life without social media. It has become essential to connecting with our friends, getting updates about what’s going on in the world and being entertained. We can barely remember (if we’re old enough to remember!) how we stayed in touch without it. But teens and young adults are increasingly reporting that social media can also be a source of stress.
What we hear a lot about, especially from teenagers, is that when they’re scrolling through feeds they are often (consciously or unconsciously) comparing themselves to others. People tend to post the highlights — the perfect hair, the perfect friends, the perfect pre-gym selfie—and it’s fun to scroll through them.
But it can also hurt your self-esteem when your life doesn’t feel as perfect as everyone else’s looks. It can make you start overanalyzing your own social media presence, counting the likes your latest post got and pushing yourself to look effortlessly perfect, too, regardless of how you’re really feeling.
Similarly, people are talking so much about the fear of missing out that there’s an acronym for it. Social media is FOMO’s best and worst friend. If you’re worried about missing out, social media is great because you can stay connected to everything, wherever you are. But since there’s always something new, you never feel like you’ve seen everything and you can take a break.
When everything is online you also sometimes get proof that you are, indeed, missing out. When you see your friends hanging out without you, it feels bad. Watching an ex starting a new relationship hurts.
If spending time on social media is causing stress, the usual advice is to unplug. And while that’s good advice, it’s not very realistic advice, especially for teenagers, who do a huge amount of their socializing online.
And this adolescent socializing is more important than it looks. Teenagers are still figuring out their place in the world, and it is often through their relationships that they begin to make sense of their identity. It isn’t in their interest to stop using social media entirely. But finding a way to have healthy relationships and a healthy self-esteem while still using social media is. Sound tough? Learn how to practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a technique for living in the moment and without judgment. It helps you become more aware of what is happening around you and how you feel. Taking the time to slow down and notice these details helps you regulate your emotions and stress levels. It also introduces a level of reflection and self-awareness that people often don’t have when they’re scrolling through feeds online.
And mindfulness isn’t just for taking a walk in the park or watching the sunset. If it is applied to the social media experience itself, says Jill Emanuele, PhD, a Child Mind Institute psychologist and mindfulness expert, it can help kids manage the emotion generated by all that information about what your friends are doing.
Dr. Emanuele recommends the following mindfulness strategies to make time spent online (and offline) happier.
Work on being more self-aware and prioritizing how you feel and what you think when you’re using social media. “The stereotype for using social media is you’re just going going going, not really thinking about the impact it’s having on you,” notes Dr. Emanuele. “You want to try to be mindful of that impact.”
Dr. Emanuele recommends asking yourself: How am I doing right now? How is this app making me feel? How did that picture make me feel? Try to be aware of changes in your mood, and see if you notice any patterns.
It’s okay if you notice that the emotions you are having are negative. Try not to judge how you are feeling, but do acknowledge the emotion. Acknowledging when you are feeling jealous or sad can be very powerful because it actually helps take some of the bite out of the bad feeling. It can also help you process your emotion — without getting carried away by it.
However, if something is consistently making you feel bad, practicing mindfulness can also help you identify that and then ask yourself why, and if there is something you can do that might help. Taking the time to notice — and value — how you are feeling is an important skill that will make you happier and more confident in all areas of your life, not just when you’re online.
Mindfulness can also give you reality check. For example, people often try to use social media as a way to cheer up when they’re feeling down or bored. So if you’re feeling bad about yourself, you might post something that’s totally opposite, like a cute selfie or a picture of your great friends. Sometimes projecting something different, or getting compliments online, can get you out of the funk.
But the satisfaction is often fleeting, and you can find yourself feeling like you’re just fooling everyone. If you notice that you actually feel worse afterwards, know that this isn’t uncommon, and look for more reliable ways to improve your mood.
Using technology to track technology is another strategy Dr. Emanuele recommends. For example there are apps like Moment and Checky that are designed to help you track how you use your phone.
“Do an experiment to see how much time you actually spend on certain things,” says Dr. Emanuele. “When you’re on it, what are you actually doing? What are your emotions like?”
Likewise, mood tracking apps and diaries remind you to take time to check in with yourself. They also create a record of how you’ve been feeling, which you can revisit after the fact. Gathering data on how you use technology and how technology affects you will help you notice patterns and, if necessary, develop better habits. Seeing the data might be surprising, since we often aren’t aware of how much time we spend once we start scrolling.
If you want to try to learn more about mindfulness, Dr. Emanuele notes there are also apps that guide you through the basics of how to practice mindfulness. Headspace and Smiling Mind are two popular ones. Smiling Mind is designed for young people so it may be a better fit for tweens.
The best way to get a little perspective is to take occasional breaks from social media. Do yoga, go for a run, spend time with friends in person, hang out in nature. Whatever it is, doing things in real life can be a big stress reliever and make you feel better about yourself in a way that scrolling through a feed never will.
Try to practice self-awareness during offline activities, too. Notice how you feel in the moment when you are being active, and note what really feels like fun to you. You might surprise yourself. And chances are you’ll find that experience is pretty addictive, too.
:: You can also read: Children’s Games: How Wonderful Are They? ::
The mobile apps industry is constantly changing and growing, and one of its most important target audiences is children. Today we are going to talk about the differences between two app monetization models that can make all the difference in terms of content and kids’ lives: the Freemium and Premium (or paid) apps.
Monetization is the strategy used by apps to earn money. There exists a number of app monetization methods:
Remember: nothing is free on the internet. You may not have pulled out your wallet and spent money on any apps, but you always pay in some way.
Free kids apps monetize through advertisements. Even though the apps themselves make an effort to ban certain types of advertising, mistakes happen. For instance, we have seen ads for alcoholic beverages being displayed on certain kids apps that we knew had this type of control.
Kids can only start to understand what is an advertisement around the age of 8, according to Common Sense Media. Before that, they consume it as normal entertainment content, that is, without any filter.
Advertisers know that the earlier children learn about a brand, the bigger the chances are that they will buy the product later (or beg their parents to buy it). The exposure of kids to advertisements can stimulate the craving for excessive stimuli, non-balanced diets, and, mainly, consumerism.
Free apps can also offer in-app purchases. This is a common practice and it is possible for this type of app to contain ads or not. They are called Freemium: a mixture of free and premium, the latter of which brings to mind the idea of quality.
These apps sell extra lives, some type of help to level up, clothes and fashion accessories to customize characters, gifts to give to other players, and so on and so forth.
The problem is how this “trade” is made. In many apps, it is not clear that the purchase is real, that it requires real money, and that it is charged directly on the parents’ credit card. It is common for kids to think it is “make-believe money” and simply part of the game, and then they buy several items because most of them don’t require any type of parental control, password, or gates for the kids to ask their parents’ help. In this video, it is common for children to make in-app purchases unknowingly, especially kids who don’t know how to read yet.
Another common practice of this type of app is the “impossible levels”, in which players who are already hooked by the game are not able to progress until after a certain amount of tries. This happens on purpose and it is manufactured, akin to some casino slot-machine practices. The only way to level up is to buy items that help. This purchase can also happen through ads, such as for instance: “Watch this ad and earn a power-up”.
Loot boxes are one of the items sold inside these apps. Loot boxes are surprise boxes with items that can be used in the game. When you buy (or is gifted) a loot box, you don’t know what is inside. That is: many children buy loot boxes in the hopes of finding a rare item, but these chances are minimal, and most of the time the rewarded items are cheaper and more common than the loot box itself.
This mechanic is the same as the one used in slot machines in casinos: they are addictive and present in many popular kids games.
Even if many freemium apps don’t have advertising, they were designed for the player to spend as much time as possible inside the app. That is, the content it delivers is addictive. Therefore, even though the player has no more lives or has reached an impossible level, the game uses mechanics and tricks that induce the user to buy extra life packages and hints or even to watch an ad in exchange for a life.
And if you don’t identify the free app that your child uses in any of the options above, it is because it is collecting data. All apps take data from their users, do not be fooled, and for two reasons: improving the app itself and its usability and using this data for marketing purposes. The second option is what practically every “100%” free app does to its users’ data.
The data that apps collect is about how much time you spend on the app, where you click, how much time you spend on each step, which of the app’s content you consume, and during which time you use it. If there are ads inside the app, it is also possible to know which kind of ads you watch in its entirety, which ones you skip, and how much time you spend on each ad, etc. There is so much data it is hard to create an exhaustive list of all its possibilities.
After all this information is collected, algorithms can create a profile for you: your preferences and what you like to see; the times that you are on your phone, that you take your meals, that you study or work, and that you go to sleep; if you like football, which films and TV shows you watch on TV, etc.
All of this is sold so that other companies use you as a consumer. Your profile is sold for companies to show you advertisements because your interests match the products they sell.
This can be quite troublesome since most people don’t know where or for what purpose their data is being collected. But the main point is: kids have no idea what that means. And, for that reason, kids apps are forbidden from using personally identifiable information (PII) from kids under the age of 13.
In order to deceive this system, many apps don’t call themselves kids apps so they can use this data, even though they know most of its audience are kids. They wash their hands of their responsibility and affirm the app is not recommended for kids under 13 despite all the language, design and themes of the app being children-oriented.
These companies use this data to sell advertisements. What happens to children is that they are then bombarded with ads chosen for them based on their tastes, age, gender, toy preferences, colors, bedtimes, extracurricular activities, etc. And we know that kids don’t take in these ads the same way as adults — it’s a much more violent and dangerous content for them. Beyond that, there is practically no regulating body to supervise these advertisements, specially here in Brazil.
Many kids apps are changing their monetization strategy so the user needs to purchase the app. There are currently two common methods: one that charges by the app itself (Premium apps) and another that charges by subscription. The former charges you only once when you download the app in the app store. Usually, you pay this one-time fee and are given access to all available content, but there is no new content after that, only updates to fix possible bugs.
When the app is subscription-based, you download it for free and only inside the app are you going to purchase its content by subscribing to one of the offered plans. Plans can charge you once by month, semester or year. The purchase is made after you have entered a password and gone through parental gates and “adult” screens that don’t catch kids’ attention, that is, it is very difficult for children to subscribe by accident.
Subscription-based apps usually offer a free trial period for the child to experiment with the app and for parents to decide whether it is worth the investment. Since it is a monthly investment, subscription-based apps are always updating the app and providing new content for their users.
These two models are free of advertisements, that is, children’s data is not commercialized. Does that mean these apps don’t collect data from my kids? No, that is not what it means. These apps do collect some data from their users, but this data is not sold for monetization purposes, so that more “assertive” ads pop up for your kids.
Paid apps use user data to improve the experience inside the app. For example: it is through this data that app developers can identify bugs, or when an important button is not communicating what is necessary because it is not being used. Since these apps do not contain advertisements, the data never leaves them.
:: You can also read: Yoga for kids: more focus (and fun!) for the little ones ::
You have probably come across this name at least once in the last few months, hearing it from your kids, other children, or friends, even if you haven’t played it yet. Recently, analytics platform Sensor Tower published data that revealed Among Us was the most downloaded mobile game worldwide in September, for Android and iOS.
All this success can be explained by a couple of things. The Covid-19 pandemic caused many countries throughout the world to practise social distancing.
Online games, then, in that sense, became a viable alternative source of entertainment, since leaving the house to meet relatives and friends was not recommended by health authorities.
Still, it isn’t just the frequent internet use and social distancing measures that put Among Us in the position it is today. It is also its functionalities, its narrative and its possibilities that are attractive to both adult and young players. And that is why we are going to explain a little bit more about the game and its features.
Among Us is a game created in 2018 by Innersloth, an American video game developer. Only the mobile version (for Android and iOS) was made available after its initial release, but the PC version was developed by its creators at the end of the same year.
The goal of the game is considered simple and Among Us isn’t the first to propose this same premise. It’s a multiplayer game, that is, you necessarily have to play with other people, there isn’t the option to play alone. Players gather in groups to start the game, and each group must have between 4 to 10 participants.
As soon as the app starts, players have a few options: they can create their own game and call friends and family to play, or they can join previously created games.
The game happens inside a ship in space, where crewmates are trying to survive the galaxy. Among this crew, there is an “impostor” whose goal is to eliminate the other participants. The impostor is chosen randomly and, depending on the game settings, there may have more than one impostor.
:: You can also be interested in: Freemium x Premium Apps: how apps earn money and how that affects kids ::
To play the mobile version, you can download the app for free on your smartphone. The Steam version, however, which is for computers, costs R$ 10,89.
It is also possible to buy “skins”, which is how the characters look. Prices vary greatly and the purchase can be made in the in-game store.
We should also mention that after games come to an end in the free version, ads pop up on the user’s screen. In the paid version there are no ads.
There are two groups of characters in Among Us: the crewmates and the impostor (or impostors). Each character will play a specific role in the game.
Impostor: the impostor must kill the other crewmates in the ship. They can also sabotage the ship, and, of course, they have to evade accusations that they are the impostor.
Crewmates: crewmates have to remain alive until the game is finished. They can also perform tasks and accuse participants who they believe are the impostors.
The role played by each character is secret, and only the players themselves know who they are at the beginning of the game.
After someone is killed, other crewmates will end up finding the body. Once the body is reported to the other players, an emergency meeting is called, which takes place on a text chat located at the top right corner of the screen.
This moment is when crewmates will accuse who they believe to be the impostor. Then, each one can vote on the character they think is guilty. It is also possible to skip the vote.
When a player receives the majority of votes, they are kicked out of the game. If they are part of the crew, they become a ghost. If the player ejected is really the impostor, then the crewmates have won the game.
There is also another way for crewmates to win the game. Should they complete all their tasks before most of them are killed, they win.
Among Us is not a game for kids and it was not created to reach this specific audience. App Store gave it a 9+ rating and Google Play recommended it for kids older than 12 years old. Steam, the platform where the PC version of the game can be downloaded, said it is suitable for all audiences.
In the game settings, there is the option to “censor chat”. When the censor chat mode is on, any inappropriate words that appear on the screen will be censored. The game comes with this option already enabled, but it can be disabled at any moment.
Many players prefer to play Among Us connected to a voice or video platform, so that they can talk instead of type in the game chat.
In public games, invitations to join chats outside the game are common. It is also common to exchange WhatsApp numbers and social media profiles, and there is no filter or censor mode to stop this.
Players must choose a name once they download the game in order to start to play. Many players adopt inappropriate names that contain sexual content or bad language.
When a player joins a public game, many times the host ends up banning players with no apparent reason.
There are also players that use hacks, that is, an alternative menu is added to the “official” menu in the game which offers several options, such as the player always being the impostor, the unlocking of accessories and other functions.
The dynamic created by the game attracts adults as well and it can be a fun experience for parents to play along with the kids, for instance, or other close relatives.
The PC version is the safest version, since it allows the host the ability to ban players that act inappropriately. Creating a private game, even in the free version, is also a good alternative, since only those who know the code can enter the game.
In this case, guidance is the strongest ally. It is fundamental that you talk to your kids about the risks of offering private information to strangers, or of joining online chats when they don’t know who will be there.
Since last Thursday, several players have reported the game platform is being the target of multiple spam attacks.
Messages have been sent to the game text chat inviting players to subscribe to YouTube and Discord channels and threatening those who wouldn’t. Content related to Donald Trump’s reelection in the United States have also been sent by the hackers.
The game developers have released an update that ended up not solving the problem and therefore recommended that private games are the safest option at the moment.
This significant attack raised many discussions on social media about the game’s safety and the protection of its players’ data.
Written by Débora Nazário
Translated by Mariana Gruber
Among Us is quite popular and forbidding kids from playing “the most popular game of the moment” will result in a lot of frustration. In the article, we explain how the game works and its recommended age, the main dangers it poses to kids and some solutions to them.
Therefore, our suggestion is: do your kids want to play? Play it with them, be there to keep an eye on things, and, if you see something that doesn’t go along with what you want them exposed to, then you end the game. It’s important to talk to children so that they understand the motive behind your actions.
P.S: The game contains illustrations and graphics of blood and character deaths.
:: You can also read: Balance with technology: how to find it? ::
We are proud to announce that Truth and Tales has won the gold seal of the Mom’s Choice Awards!
The Mom’s Choice Awards is a platform that evaluates products and services developed for children, families and educators. The Mom’s Choice Awards is recognized for establishing the benchmark of excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. The Mom’s Choice Awards is a program from the United States, but it has already evaluated thousands of items from more than 55 countries.
The items are reviewed by the Mom’s Choice Awards in terms of production quality, design, educational value, entertainment value, originality, appeal and cost. The evaluators of the Mom’s Choice Awards are interested in items that promote good will, that are inspirational and that help families grow emotionally, physically and spiritually.
Truth and Tales has earned the gold seal of the Mom’s Choice Awards by meeting all of the requirements above with excellence, but we can mention some of the highlights.
We can start with the quality of the books: the curation of Truth and Tales is done by neuroscientists, doctors and education professionals that attend conferences and events, being in constant update mode.
That is why the teaching stories were selected for Truth and Tales: they contain important elements that not only assist in the literacy process and in the contact with reading, but also help the child to grow into a mindful human being.
Truth and Tales acts in cognitive development, in emotional balance with emotion recognition and in negotiation skills, in addition to developing attributes such as empathy and perception.
The narrative was considered so the child would be surprised by the characters: the villain who isn’t evil, the “mistake” which doesn’t go wrong, the adults who don’t know everything. It may seem like a detail, but with a plethora of stories bringing this dichotomy of good guy/bad guy, right/wrong, and adults who know everything/children who know nothing, young readers start to relate this to what happens in life and take it as gospel.
The degrees of subtlety are also an important factor in Truth and Tales. The tales are profound and perception comes in waves – gradually and bit by bit. The child who read the tales at the age of 5 will have a different experience and perception after reading it later at the age of 8. The penny drops unhurriedly and in very specific and personal ways for each person. Each individual’s needs are quite different, and the teaching stories act in accordance with them.
The design is undoubtedly one of the strengths of Truth and Tales: in addition its dazzle, it was crafted for calm and peaceful reading, with colors that don’t over excite children’s brain. All of this added to the animated and interactive features that allow for a rich and fun experience.
The game mechanics were also very well-considered. Why isn’t it like a normal book, where the child turns the pages? We created an interactive book in which the child has the privilege to explore the characters and the setting. In the beginning of each book, we teach readers how this interaction works without them noticing and, from this moment on, each different touch on the book sceneries is a surprise. To give children the freedom to stop, appreciate, search for details and focus their attention on what they are doing was something we made sure to bring to Truth and Tales.
Truth and Tales also relies on optimal font for dyslexia throughout the app. The karaoke tool also helps children who are in middle of the literacy process. While the narrator tells the stories, the sentences appear at the bottom corner of the app, turning yellow when the words have been read.
Truth and Tales was conceived and produced based on the most up-to-date studies and research on games and children. The app was not created for children to never put the phone away, after all, it is not recommended that children between the age of 5 and 7 spend more than 1 hour a day exposed to screens and, between the age of 8 and 10, 1 hour and a half.
Roblox is one of the kids games of the moment, despite all the controversy around it. For this reason, we have brought here an article from Common Sense Media so that parents can better understand what it is and how to let their kids enjoy this online platform safely.
This is a reproduction of an article originally published on the Common Sense Media website. No copyright infringement intended.
:: You can also read: A Parent’s Guide to Among Us: everything you need to know about the game ::
By Caroline Knorr
Offering both intense multiplayer gaming and a sophisticated game-building tool, Roblox (which boasts some 150 million users worldwide) delivers variety, creativity, competition, and socializing — much of it for free. You can even make money on the game.
Though Roblox has the potential to be a learning tool, similar to Minecraft, it has its downsides. Because all of its content is user-generated, kids can be exposed to a range of material. Much of it is age-appropriate for tweens and teens. Some of it is just annoying, such as advertising and incessant demands to buy “Robux,” Roblox’s in-game currency. And some of it is very concerning, such as predatory behavior and sexually explicit user forums.
However, with careful attention to red flags, privacy settings, and other safety precautions, kids can have a rich and thrilling experience playing Roblox. But your understanding of how it works, and how your kids can use it safely, is key. Learn more about the pros and cons of this immersive, creative, and powerful multiplayer gaming service.
Roblox is an online gaming platform where you can play games designed by other users and create and share your own games using Roblox’s proprietary game-developing tool, Roblox Studio. Once you sign up, you can play an infinite number of games, build and share creations, and chat with other users – all for free. Some of the most popular games include Adopt Me!, MeepCity, and Work at a Pizza Place, which all boast billions of user visits. If your kids are serious about the game, they’ll need Robux, and they’ll probably want to subscribe to Roblox Premium, which provides additional features for a membership fee.
Roblox offers two equally compelling modes: playing games and creating them. After registering, you have unrestricted access to both modes (however, most kids are just there to play). You can choose from a never-ending and continually evolving supply of creative and fun challenges in various categories, from shooters to murder mysteries to sports to fighting games. (Frustratingly, you can’t sort games by genre, so finding ones you like is often a process of trial and error.)
Gameplay can be uneven, but good creators tend to rise to the top of the feed. Some amateur developers use the platform as a kind of portfolio to showcase their work for potential employers. For kids who are interested in creating their own games, Roblox offers a lot of instructions, a wiki, and a helpful player community. Creators can monetize their games to earn revenue, both by charging people to play their games and by offering pay-as-you-go in-game purchases — usually needed to get ahead in the game.
Roblox doesn’t specify a minimum age. Users of any age can create and join groups, chat, and interact with others. The company’s commitment to the theory of “constructivism,” which promotes the educational benefits of curiosity, designing, and building, is – in theory – appropriate for anyone who can navigate through a game. In practice, though, such an open approach can pose some risks to kids, especially younger ones. And though Roblox has some safety precautions in place, it remains a target of people with less-than-good intentions. Still, because of the learning potential the game offers, Common Sense Media rates it OK for users age 13+. We urge parents to help kids protect themselves by enabling privacy settings, teaching them how to recognize the methods that online predators use to win kids’ trust and exploit them, and showing kids how to report bad behavior and block users.
Robux are Roblox’s in-game currency. You use them for a range of things, including special outfits or animations for your avatar, unique abilities in games, weapons, and other objects. There are different ways to get Robux: You can buy them, get them as part of a Premium membership, trade for them, or have someone donate them to you. You can also earn them by charging the users to play games you’ve created and by charging for items in your games.
Roblox uses a freemium/premium model. You can do a lot for free, including play tons of games and use the Roblox Studio game builder. But doing anything beyond the basics, such as animating your avatar or buying and trading weapons, requires Robux. The company offers three subscription levels in its Roblox Premium membership, which includes a Robux allowance:
Roblox offers account controls that let parents restrict how kids can interact on the site and the types of games they can play. You can control whether kids can be contacted, who can message or chat with them, and a few other things in the contact settings. To enable these settings, you add your email address to your kid’s account and create a PIN that prevents kids from changing the settings back. The account controls are optional; kids of any age can create an account on Roblox with no parental restrictions. On accounts of kids under 13, Roblox automatically defaults to stricter settings, but a kid could change these if there’s no parent PIN.
Yes, you can make real money on Roblox. In fact, dedicated creators can earn major bucks. Roblox offers a few different revenue-generating models, including charging others for access to games you create, charging incremental fees within your game, and trading rare items that other players are willing to pay for. To earn money, you have to be older than 13, hold a Premium membership, and have at least 100,000 Robux in your account. Then you can trade the Robux into the company for real money. 100,000 Robux is worth $350.
Roblox encourages users to interact through its Chat & Party function. All chat is filtered, which means inappropriate language is replaced by hashtag symbols. Chatting in accounts of kids under 13 is more heavily filtered. Roblox also employs human monitors who keep an eye out for inappropriate language and content. However, even with the monitors and filtered chat, people have figured out ways to bypass this, so knowing who you’re talking to is vital for safe interaction.
“OD” stands for “online dater.” These are folks who join social networks, including gaming sites like Roblox, to find romantic partners. Games on Roblox can even be designed expressly for ODers. Roblox doesn’t explicitly forbid ODers, and ODers aren’t necessarily preying on kids. (They may be solely looking for other ODers.) Roblox‘s monitors look out for inappropriate conversations and content. And its community rules prohibit chat that’s sexual in nature. If your kid wants to use Roblox, it’s critical that you review online safety, such as how to identify potential predators, how to report and block users, and how to spot “grooming” behavior, which predators use to get their victims to trust them.
If your kid likes Roblox, he or she can find lots of Roblox-related videos on popular gaming platforms such as Twitch, Miniclip, and YouTube Gaming. There are Let’s Plays — where gamers livestream themselves playing Roblox games — as well as how-tos, news, and analysis by Roblox fanatics. Some of these videos have off-color language, so check out our YouTube guide for tips on keeping kids from overexposure to age-inappropriate content.
There are predators on Roblox, as there are on many extremely popular social networks. Predators take advantage of Roblox‘s easily accessible chat to target their victims. (All you have to do is sign up for Roblox to start chatting, and the Chat & Party window is featured on nearly every page of the site.) Roblox uses human monitors as well as technology to weed out the bad guys, but they still crop up occasionally. To avoid being contacted by a predator, and to play as safely as possible, kids should enable the most restrictive contact settings (found on the Privacy Settings page). You can prevent anyone from contacting you by turning off chat entirely or limiting interactions to only friends. You should coach your kids to not chat with people they don’t know (unless they can verify they’re actually a friend, or a friend of a friend, in real life) and to not accept private messages (PMs) from anyone they don’t know. Make sure they know never to give away personal information, trust their instincts if someone makes them uncomfortable, and never move a conversation to a different platform (a telltale predator red flag).
Updated March 9, 2021