Video games can be a source of entertainment, education and relaxation for people young and old. And while the majority of players are adults, 75% of kids under the age of 18 are also playing video games every week, according to the Entertainment Software Association.

The Verge reported that more than half of U.S. children under the age of 16 are playing one game specifically, Roblox. And it’s very popular with kids between the ages of 9 and 12. The company told Bloomberg that two-thirds of children in that age group are participating and 120 million people are playing every month.

Roblox is a virtual universe where users can create games for others to enjoy. But with an age rating of 10+ and many users younger than that, parents should be aware of aspects that could lead to danger in the real world.

Why Roblox has a mature content problem
Who is responsible for monitoring kids’ social media use? Government? Schools? Parents?

One of the fears parents have for any online game is that a predator may try to contact their child. Roblox does give players the option to chat with others in private messages and groups, but does filter messages with automated and human monitoring. Inappropriate language and personal information like phone numbers, addresses and birthdays are not allowed. Instead, players will see a series of hashtags.

But no monitoring system is perfect, so the game gives parents the choice to limit or completely block the feature.

First, moms and dads should open ‘Account settings’ to add their email address to their child’s account and create a PIN so they can’t change any restrictions.

Then go to Privacy>Contact Settings to decide who can message or chat with your child. Options include ‘Everyone’, ‘Friends and Users’, ‘Friends’ and ‘No One’.

Also in Privacy, go to ‘Other Settings’ to decide who can invite your child to private servers (game worlds) and who can join them there.

Users under the age of 13 are automatically given higher privacy settings. For instance, they are only allowed to choose between ‘Friends’ or ‘No one’ in chat features.

Roblox is free to play, but there are in-app purchases that can help users get ahead in games. The virtual currency is Robux and creators can charge people to play their games or to buy weapons or special abilities. The game allows parents to set spending limits on the accounts of kids who are under the age of 13. They can also receive email notifications when their child spends money. Parents should disable or limit purchasing within the game or on their devices so they aren’t shocked by a major Robux charge at the end of the month.

Minecraft is like virtual Lego play and is rated 9+. Kids can explore and build worlds where everything is made of 3D building blocks. It can benefit players by encouraging creative thinking, problem solving and sparking imagination.

Creative mode is best for younger players and has zero violence. Survival mode allows kids to craft weapons and armor to fight off dangerous mobs of spiders or zombies. Adventure mode allows players to download game maps created by other users.

Kids can play Minecraft alone or with others. For parents worried about children communicating with strangers in the game, there are a few options. Moms and dads can completely disable the Chat and Multiplayer features for child accounts in Xbox account settings. Go to ‘Privacy & online safety’ to decide who can see the child’s Xbox profile bio and location, as well as who can communicate with them using voice and text. Choose from ‘Everyone’, ‘Friends’ or block the features completely. There are similar parental controls to enable if kids are playing on a Nintendo Switch or a Playstation console.

Roblox and Minecraft can be a great way for kids to create and explore virtual worlds. These so-called sandbox games can provide hours of entertainment with plenty to do and discover. Like any multiplayer game that has the option of players from all over the world to join in, there are possible dangers. But parental controls through the game itself (Roblox) or through a game console (Minecraft) should help ease concern. But, of course before kids play either of these games, moms and dads should have sincere and frequent conversations with them about predators online. Keep communication lines open so that a child knows what to do in case a questionable situation sneaks into their real life from their virtual one.