“Screen time” is a hotly debated topic among parents. We like the screens when they give us a little break or a chance to get housework done without constant interruptions, but we don’t like them when out kids get obsessed with a game or would rather be indoors with their faces in a screen than outside playing. And then, of course, there’s the dangers to outside influences that apps create: predators do prowl “kids” apps like Roblox and Minecraft looking for prey.
Mom Amber Petersen was recently shocked by a screen time danger she NEVER saw coming, however, when her 7-year-old daughter was innocently playing the mega-popular Roblox game on a tablet.
In a Facebook post that has been shared over 7,000 times, Petersen describes the disturbing Roblox incident. She begins with a warning, and if you click through to her post, you can see the graphic screenshots in the comments:
WARNING: EXTREMELY GRAPHIC AND UPSETTING SCREENSHOTS IN THE COMMENTS. DO NOT VIEW WITH CHILDREN PRESENT. OR JUST TAKE MY WORD FOR IT AND SPARE YOURSELF ALTOGETHER. I am beyond disgusted to post these photos, but they provide the proof for what I am about to describe in case anyone suspects this could be a bogus story.
I’m struggling with where to begin here because I’m feeling quite traumatized and violated on so many levels. After what just took place this morning, I’m actually questioning whether or not I should allow my precious 7-year-old daughter to have access to a screen ever again. It’s THAT bad.
This horrifying experience involves the popular app Roblox, dubbed the “number one gaming site for kids.” With the second most accessible rating of PEGI 7, Roblox is recommended for children ages 7 and up and it currently has 64 million users. The game contains a multiplayer online gaming platform that allows users to create their own personal avatar, as well as their own adventures (similar to MineCraft). Roblox also provides the opportunity to interact with others’ virtual realities, which is a popular feature of this game.
I’ll share the least upsetting Roblox screen shot here, the others are too graphic for me to be comfortable posting on our site. Yes, they are THAT BAD.
Petersen goes on to elaborate and give more information about Roblox. She says:
Roblox also has security settings that allow the parent to block outside conversations and invitations. There are also 24-hour moderators that are hired to block any potentially inappropriate content. When my husband and I decided to allow our daughter to play this game, we adjusted the security settings to maximum privacy. Or at least we THOUGHT we did…
Then, she describes exactly what happened during the upsetting sexual assault on her daughter’s Roblox avatar and warns all parents whose kids play the popular game:
While laying in bed with my daughter this morning, I was reading aloud to her from one of my favorite childhood chapter books. At the same time, she was playing her favorite game Roblox on her iPad while listening to the story. All of a sudden, she stopped me from reading and showed me her screen.
At first, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. My sweet and innocent daughter’s avatar was being VIOLENTLY GANG-RAPED ON A PLAYGROUND by two males. A female observer approached them and proceeded to jump on her body at the end of the act. Then the 3 characters ran away, leaving my daughter’s avatar laying on her face in the middle of the playground.
I could NOT believe it when I read these words, much less imagine watching in horror as my CHILD saw these awful things! My heart goes out to Petersen and her daughter!
She goes on to describe her devastation and the parental guilt that accompanied this awful Roblox incident, and urges parents to do everything they can to prevent this happening to their own child:
Words cannot describe the shock, disgust, and guilt that I am feeling right now, but I’m trying to put those feelings aside so I can get this warning out to others as soon as possible. Thankfully, I was able to take screenshots of what I was witnessing so people will realize just how horrific this experience was. *screenshots in comments for those who can stomach it* Although I was immediately able to shield my daughter from seeing the entire interaction, I am shuddering to think of what kind of damage this image could have on her psyche, as well as any other child that could potentially be exposed to this.
Parents/Caregivers…I urge you to take another look at the security settings on all of your devices and closely supervise your child if you allow them to continue playing games with online platforms such as Roblox. Better yet, perhaps you can join me in taking the rest of this summer to challenge your child to PUT AWAY THEIR SCREENS….AND READ!!! Books cannot be hacked, but sadly, I’ve learned the hard way that a child’s innocence can be just at the touch of a button.
Also, I urge people to share this post to get this important message out to others. I’m not sure that I’m prepared for all of the trolling and criticism, but I’ll deal with it knowing that even one child can be spared from experiencing such a hideous situation.
Thank you for your time. ❤️
In the comments of her post, Amber also posted a link to an article in the Daily Mail about a six-year-old Australian girl who was invited into a “sex room” while playing Roblox, saying, “I wish I would’ve seen this.” As parents, we kind of owe it to each other to share these kinds of stories when we read them…after all, we can’t DO better unless we KNOW better! As for my kiddos, they simply are not allowed to play any sort of app or online game where they can interact with people they do not know. If you can’t play the game by yourself, you can’t play at all in my house. We do have friends who play some games my kids like that we allow them to connect with, but that’s all. NO one unknown, period.
Moms and Dads, bad people have literally proved time and time again that they will stop at nothing to show up where are children are online. It is up to US to keep them safe. Just because all your kids friends are playing on a certain game or app, doesn’t make it safe. It is on US to have their devices locked down tight, and the settings on all their games as secure as possible, and to CHECK those games and devices often.
To their credit, Roblox did take action when they were informed of the incident. In a statement, they said the company was “outraged” and that they had identified how the perpetrator had “created the offending action.” Roblox’s company then said that it’s putting “additional safeguards in place to reduce the possibility of this happening again in the future.” So, that’s good and all, but since perpetrators like this are typically relentless, it doesn’t exactly ease my mind.
Parents, if there was EVER a reason to restrict screen time, this is it. Yes, we can do screen time safely, but you know what? No one ever got pretend gang raped during a game of Monopoly. Let’s take the time to encourage activities like board games, playing outside, reading books, and puzzles to our kids. You know, the stuff WE did as children! The less time they spend on an activity that has harmful potential, the better. Everything in moderation, for sure, but that moderation also needs to be an active VERB when you’re a parent and your kid is playing Roblox, Minecraft, or doing any type of online gaming.
Thank you Amber Petersen for warning us parents and encouraging us to do better. I’m so sorry for your harrowing experience, but so thankful that you shared.