As the dust is settling from PARCC Season, I’m excited to jump back into my work with the Teacher Homework Project (explained here). My third assignment was to download and play the online game, Roblox. Roblox is an interactive, multi-player game that allows players to take on various challenges, while simultaneously interacting with players from around the world via the “chat” feature. Players can enter worlds created by other plays, or create their own world. Roblox is what happens when Legos, MineCraft, and text messaging all decide to hang out and have dinner together.
A short advertisement for the Roblox game is attached below, followed by my reflections of my experience playing it.
I grew up loving video games. Super Mario, and most other Nintendo franchises, were my favorite. That said, playing this game still took me out of my comfort zone a bit. I’ve never embraced online gaming, which is something Roblox is built on. As a kid, I enjoyed video games the most when I could play them alone and process them in much the same way I process a great book or movie. I did have many great moments playing games with friends and family, but I also appreciated the time I had to explore, struggle, problem-solve, fail, and succeed while playing some of my favorite games in the privacy of my own room.
From what I experienced while playing Roblox, that type of personal experience is not possible, since you are always in the company of other gamers online. This concerns me for two primary reasons:
- I personally believe that children of Generation Z/iGeneration grow up in a much more complicated, and less forgiving, world. When I made a mistake as a child, they were for me to deal with, and usually for small groups of family and friends to experience with me. Now, some of a child’s most embarrassing moments have the potential to be broadcast online for the world to see through social media and online gaming. This is a dangerous, and real, issue. It’s not insurmountable, and I believe that we as educators can work alongside parents to help children engage in online activities in emotionally safe ways.
- Online communication, especially with children, is still not as secure as it needs to be. A friend of mine who reads this blog contacted me right away when he noticed I’d be writing about Roblox. He did so out of concern, because there have been cases of online predators tracking down children who play the game. [One such concern is expressed here. Many more can be found by performing a Google Search of “Roblox-Predators”] Creating accounts for games like this is easy, and students are incredibly crafty when it comes to creating accounts that bypass age requirements or other restrictions. Children’s natural understanding of technology features coupled with a pseudo-secure online world, creates an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Having only played this game for a short amount of time, I know there are numerous positive points to Roblox that I am downplaying.
- Interacting with others is a good thing.
- Collaboration is a good thing.
- Creating things, whether digital or physical, is a good thing.
Roblox does give children opportunities to do those things, but overall, I’m more leery of the game than I am supportive of it.
Thanks again for reading!