The Scary Realities of Minecraft and Roblox: It Happened to MY Kid

I thought the only bad thing about my day was my attitude. Time change and stress had made me cranky, a surgeon wanted and subsequently didn’t want an expensive product that my company scrambled to provide, and my kiddo had taken to informing me how dumb he thinks I am over a week ago. I was four hours into an 8 hour day, standing in a freezing operating room, watching a new clinician set up {you did awesome, Jenn!}. It was 2:30 in the afternoon and my phone buzzed. I pulled it out of my pocket, looked down, and saw two pictures from my mom, along with the message, “Do you know about Tiny’s texting on this game? And is it okay? Is it a person or a computer?”

I didn’t focus on the screenshots when I wrote back. I confirmed that he was, in fact, texting, and then wrote, “He knows he is not allowed to send messages to strangers. If he is {sending messages}, delete the game.”

Then I looked at the pictures, and immediately called my mom.

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As I read them, my skin crawled. There, sitting in the middle of my mother’s living room, my child had been targeted by an internet predator.

Over a week ago, I read about a dad who went onto Roblox and utilized the chat feature to see what it was all about. He wanted to see if it was innocent, or if children could be targeted. To sum up the article, it took the dad minutes to be approached by an internet pedophile. That day, I asked my son if he sent messages to people on that game. He told me he didn’t, because he didn’t know he could.

Not like that makes it better, am I right?

I remembered in that moment that my son had told me about a time he was in an elevator on Roblox, and some character, without clothes on {“But there aren’t really clothes and not clothes on Roblox, Mommy.”}, kept “bumping” into my son’s character, which was annoying him. My response that day was naive, mostly because I was driving home, but I said, “Get out of the elevator. Get out of the game altogether. Play something else.”

Unfortunately, “play something else” didn’t address the real problem–because I wasn’t in my “pedophiles are everywhere” mindset, nor was I in my “everything is a teachable moment” mindset. I was in the “let me try to not get rear-ended by these crazy Houston drivers” mode.

I even got rear-ended for the third time last week, so my worry is pretty valid when driving. Ugh.

However, when the dad’s article came out, Tiny and I had a serious discussion about not going in elevators, houses, private rooms with other people, and about not sending messages to anyone, period. I thought I was pretty clear, in a “listen to your mother when she talks to you” sort of way.

That sounded pretty cut and dry, right? Never go into a room, elevator, or house with another character, and never send messages.

Enter two cousins and a couple of iPads at Grandma’s house over Spring Break. His cousin told him about a new game, called High School Girls Story: Building & Crafting. She called it High School Minecraft. In my niece’s defense, she showed him the chat feature and told him not to use it. He didn’t hear that part. He heard, “Here’s how you can chat in this game.”

Mommy’s discussion flew out of his head. He’s only 7, so maybe my voice hasn’t firmly been engrained in his brain, yet. I believe I’ll keep trying.

I had never heard of this game before today. I knew the dangers of Roblox and set the parameters for that. But a High School Minecraft game I didn’t know. I’ve looked it up, so I’ll share the description.

“High School girls [sic] story!” it reads. “Create your own love tale! Have a boyfriend, build, explore! Be the top girl at school! Have a BFF, become a prom queen! The best high school games for girls! Date your crush! Have a high school romance!”

Have a high school romance. Seriously?

“Creative game for girls,” it continues. “Building, exploration lite, craft, mine for girls! Be a princess of the prom! Build a nail salon, spa, hair dresser salon or pet shop! Be fabulous!”

Feminists clearly haven’t heard of this app, yet. Wait, wait, wait: my favorite line is coming up next.

“Let other girls be jealous of your new boyfriend with a sports car.”

Boyfriends, romance, prom queens, huzzah! In the words of my child, Oh M my G. Apparently the creators hated High School {didn’t we all at some point?}, so they wanted a virtual world of mean girls and boyfriends galore. What in the world? In their need to build a “girl fantasy world,” they also added in a chat feature so that lonely, little girls could be approached by men.

How FANTASTIC does that sound?

Little girls, who have only ever wanted boyfriends, could get the chance to be a prom queen, wear a tiara and high heels, and get a boyfriend, all while playing a virtual game … with a chat feature … for sick pedophiles to jump in and get their jollies off.

I mean, I can’t. I cannot process this enough today.

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Those were the messages sent to my child, and they make me want to vomit. I was standing in a sterile OR, before the case was supposed to start, staring at my phone. It could have been so much worse, and my kid had no clue. He had no clue what this predator was saying to him, or the implications therein.

But, I did.

“Do you love me?” the character asked.

“I love everyone,” my son wrote.

Barf, barf, barf.

“Do you want to come in my house?” the character asked.

“Ok, I will come in his or her house,” my son replied.

Mommy rule: broken. It was broken in so many ways. Thankfully, luckily, my mom asked to see what the kids were playing, and she stopped it before it got worse. She ended it before this predator said something pornographic to my kid. She said, to my credit, that he deleted the app without even blinking. He knew what he had done was wrong, and didn’t challenge Grandma’s words at all.

We had another discussion when I got off work. We will continue to have these discussions. This was a scary moment in my life, and it could be a scary moment in some other mother’s life. In this age of technology, we have to be a thousands steps ahead of our kids, and set those rules in place over and over. One discussion didn’t impact my kid enough to say, “I’m not allowed to text strangers in games.”

But, perhaps, a few dozen more discussions will.

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No comments posted on March 15, 2017 in Parenting, Winging It, Mom Style

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