A primary school has warned parents about the online gaming app, Roblox.
Bredhurst Primary School, in Kent, sent a letter to parents on Friday after concerns were raised about children talking to strangers through the app, and receiving inappropriate messages with characters doing "very adult things" in the virtual world.
Roblox has more than 30 million players and enables children aged between 8 and 12 to create their own games and play in "virtual worlds".
The letter went viral – attracting 2,700 comments and 45,000 shares – after it was posted on Facebook.
The letter states: "Many of the children stated they had received many in-game messages from ‘strangers’ and that they hadn’t told their parents. All of the children then stated that they had seen ‘naked’ characters walking around the game and that the characters were doing very adult things."
Although the letter claims that the warning against the app comes directly from the Kent Police, it was later confirmed that, in fact, it was from EST eSafety Campaign.
Hi Lewis, the comments in this letter do not come from Kent Police. This website provides very good advice on how to stay safe online - for people of all ages https://t.co/IHGR57y53R— Kent Police (UK) (@kent_police) January 29, 2018
Bredhurst's headteacher Michelle Cox said: " I sent a letter out to the parents of the children within my school as I had been sent information regarding the app Roblox. I had thought at the time that the information came from Kent Police, however, after issuing this advice letter, I discovered that the original warning had not come from Kent Police but from an online e-safety company (EST) and was based upon their findings having attended a primary school.
"As a school, before I sent the letter, we spoke to the children within our school to gauge whether this was an app that the children were using and whether they were using it safely. We discovered that at least 80 per cent of our pupils were indeed playing this game online and approx. 80 per cent of these pupils had online friends they did not actually know. Some even admitted that their accounts were ‘maxed out’ meaning they had in excess of 200 online friends. As a result of this, we decided that we needed to inform our parents of the information we had received to ensure that our children were kept safe whilst on line.
"I apologise that my initial letter was misleading regarding coming from Kent Police, but I stand by the basic message in my letter.
"Safeguarding of our pupils is of the utmost importance and online safety is a major part of that."
A spokesman for Roblox said: "While we applaud the precautions of the head teacher at Bredhurst C.E. Primary school, her letter is based on false and misleading facts from an online safety site blog post that was first published in October, 2017.
All games on Roblox must comply with our Rules of Conduct. Our safety team reviews every uploaded image, video, and audio file used within our games to make sure they are safe and age appropriate.
Parental involvement is critical to a fun and safe experience. To that end we have created extensive parental controls for our games and a detailed Roblox Parent's Guide that provides information to parents to help create a Roblox experience that's best for their child.”