Gross.

“Why do gross grownups ruin it for everyone?!!”

(Sigh)

My son was asking that in a very loud 7-year-old voice all weekend.

All he wanted to do was play a game on my phone that he had been BEGGING to play all summer. Saturday I finally caved. I downloaded Roblox. “It’s better than Minecraft, Mom!” So I did some research on the game…it’s going through fun obstacle courses, mazes and other appropriate scenarios for an elementary-aged kid. My husband made sure all of the parental controls were set…then Nico was off…excited to FINALLY be playing the game. But like all games, he was playing it while sitting in the same room as us.

I was in the kitchen when I heard a very soft, “um Mom?”

“Mom…someone is saying something gross on Roblox.”

(The thing about Nico is this: he is honest. Like brutally honest. He doesn’t hide anything from me. He tells me EVERYTHING).

“What? What do you mean something gross?”

Nico handed me the phone and I saw it: a chat room popped up. Someone named DALE54 was asking questions like: HEY WHAT GRADE ARE YOU IN? WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE COLOR? DO YOU PLAY SPORTS? WHAT ARE YOU WEARING?

I yelled something that I probably shouldn’t have yelled in the presence of a child. But for the LOVE OF GOD come on!! Why can’t kids just be kids without some creep trying to be so sinister?

Nico was obviously upset when I told him that he can no longer play that game…we will stick to Super Mario Brothers or Pac Man…the basics. I also praised him for coming to me immediately…it’s a quality he has that I pray never goes away.

My husband and I thought this was a good time to reiterate the scary truth of today: don’t ever talk to anyone online that you do not know…ever. You will think they are a 7-year-old boy who plays the same sports you do…he will ask you about your favorite sports teams…you both like the same kind of food…you hate the same subjects in school…he will tell you he has the coolest arcade at his house with the very latest video games…he will ask you to come play at his house but don’t tell your mom, because she probably wouldn’t let you play those games…he’ll say it’s not fair that moms can be so not cool.  He will say whatever he can to get you to leave your house…but it won’t be a 7-year-old boy.

My kids have heard me talk about this over and over but today was different. Today, it became a little too real for them.

A friend of mine said was I being a little too harsh…that I shouldn’t have told them this because now they will be scared.

It’s not about being scared.

It’s about being aware.

It’s sad…but what’s happening IS scary.

When we were growing up, we were taught to look out for the scary van that was driving around the neighborhood. The one with the window in the back with the frayed curtain.

Now we have chameleons all around us.

It shouldn’t have to be like this…but it is.

I went back online to look into the game even more and I found this on The Cyber Safety Lady:

Edit 04/06/18 Due to the recent reports of a Sex Room and other adult content in Roblox I cannot recommend this game even with the parental controls set up as being safe for children. Some of the adult content is not being blocked by the filters or parental controls. Even with the strictest parental controls set up (see below) Children are seeing Avatars in Roblox with sexual organs attached or who have enabled what are known as “particles” and sound attachments, which blast out floating pictures of graphic pornography and or explicit music. The parental controls also do NOT block random friend requests from strangers.

I read that last line again carefully: The parental controls also do NOT block random friend requests from strangers.

We had the chat blocked…

But I did not do ENOUGH research.

(Sigh)

As adults, it’s OUR job to keep children safe.

And I failed.

I rolled my eyes at my son’s brutal honesty when he told me one day it looked like I was having another baby.

But I hope he is always THIS brutally honest…because it helped to keep him safe.