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Katy Mom Finds Invitation to Porn on Child’s Video Game

KATY MAGAZINE NEWS

April 16, 2020

By Jennifer Miko

A Katy mom recently reported her 11-year-old child received pornographic messages through an online video game. Her son received an inappropriate invitation on Sentcon, a game that’s part of the Roblox multiplayer video game universe.


The current need for online instruction has given students more access to the internet. While this gateway to the world provides learning opportunities, it puts more children at risk to receive illicit content and connect with online predators, even when they're playing a game.

Karina Ferrigno Martinez recently posted a warning message on the Katy, Texas Moms Group Facebook page about shocking content that appeared within her child’s online video game.


Sometimes Games Aren't Innocent

“Yesterday was first time they experienced this,” says Martinez. “I’m still on a wow!"


Martinez was following another news story when she discovered a link about online hotspots for predators. She became worried and decided to go through her kids’ iPads.


Her 11-year-old son had been playing on Roblox for a little more than two years, and Martinez said he only connects with his sisters and friends. But no one in the family expected his Sentcon game to lead to explicit sex acts and vulgar language.


Another player invited her son to a different game that had explicit sex scenes and crude language. Martinez said she investigated further and said the creator of the game was banned from Roblox. But the game itself was active.


Games on Roblox vary as much as their developers. Users can play interactive reality games like “Soda Simulator” and “Digestive Track Adventure” or more intense games like “Prison Life.” Roblox can be accessed on any device – PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Amazon Devices, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Xbox One.


Martinez has twins in the fifth grade and a 13-year-old daughter in 7th grade, all of whom attend Katy ISD schools. She explained that her twin son had been bullied for years, and she got him games for his iPad. They were the same ones used at school, and she admitted not doing much research, because she thought they would be appropriate.


Photo: Hufham Professional Photographer


“A lot of my friends had it and never once did anyone say anything,” Martinez says.


Millions of Kids Play on Roblox

Roblox was founded in 2004 and has amassed millions of games built by its users. The Roblox company mission: “We enable anyone to imagine, create and have fun with friends as they explore millions of immersive 3D experiences, all built by a global community of developers.”

What could go wrong with that many choices?

According to Roblox, two-thirds of all 9-to-12-year-old kids in the United States use their games, and about one-third of Americans under 16.

The immersive multiplayer experiences offered by Roblox games connect users to explore new worlds and missions. Since 2008, the company claims 28 billion hours have been played, with 2.7 million users at its peak.



Parental Research Protects Kids

“Bottom line is now that we have the time to do nothing but research what our kids have been playing no matter what age,” says Martinez. “I think if they live with you, you have the rights not only to protect them from bullying, seeing things so inappropriate or worse - sex trafficking.”


Roblox provides a link for parents explaining their game concept and they offer this message: “We continually develop cutting-edge technologies to ensure the Roblox platform remains a safe and fun space for players all over the world.”


Martinez has been on the Roblox website and will try again to reach them via phone during regular business hours.

Roblox does feature a “Report Abuse” system which they have located throughout the site and in-game where users can report inappropriate chat messages or content. Parents can also limit or disable online chat capabilities and restrict their child’s access to games beyond their age group. Roblox also employs chat filters to proactively remove inappropriate content from the platform.


A Mother's Warning

Martinez said she sat down with all three of her children and instructed them how to respond in the future if this happened again.


“If you know it’s a bad thing, you have to find someone you trust and speak about it and not only save themselves and us, but other kids’ lives,” Martinez says.

Roblox Message to Parents

In response to the increased usage of their platform, due to the coronavirus, the company has posted the following message:

“We are dedicated to working together with parents and digital safety experts to promote a family-friendly environment that allows all players to imagine, create and play online. As part of our commitment to community safety, Roblox has formed a Trust and Safety Advisory Board comprised of world-renowned digital safety authorities.”



Martinez said she will be checking her kids' Minecraft accounts next, although she said they don’t play that much, and only communicate with their contacts.


“All of us as parents need to know this is our time to stop all of this,” says Martinez. “By sitting at home and making sure predators stop and be afraid of us! Not us to them! Together as parents we are a lot more powerful if we do our job right!”


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