If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em: Making the Best of Roblox

by Paige Wolf

There’s a special kind of irony in curating a Web site full of activities and programs for tweens when your own tween wants absolutely nothing to do with extracurricular activities.

Sports? Nope. Music? Meh. Theatre? Ugh. Academic clubs? Leave me alone!

Basically, all my 9-year-old son wants to do is play ROBLOX on a screen. It is absolutely the activity that sparks him the most joy, and even the only time he and his younger sister truly get along, playing together in their own little virtual universe.

Of course, we know we can’t let him spend all his free time on screens. He still loves to run around with his friends, read books, and occasionally even keep himself busy with toys. But, for the most part, his mind is in ROBLOX world.

But I kinda get it. Playing in this virtual world is fun. Sometimes he even connects online with his real-life friends and they are mostly just being creative. There’s a lot of building virtual homes, doing virtual jobs for virtual money, and even quite a bit if strategy and socialization. If I was 9, this would totally be my jam.

So rather than get annoyed and roll our eyes, my husband and I have decided to “lean into our wired child” and try to really engage with him about what’s going on in ROBLOX world. He and his little sister are already quite savvy about not talking to online strangers, not giving personal information, and not falling for the “spammers and hackers” who try to steal their precious “robux.”

And, while my son has never shown any interest in taking art classes, he does have quite a knack for creating funny, clever stories in the form of “Roblox Comics.” They are actually so smart that they crack me up. And he thrives on making us laugh and bringing us into his little virtual world with him. We are totally on board.

I thought the comics were so genius – if you can actually read the handwriting – that I set him up with his very own Instagram account. Of course, I manage it and he doesn’t even know how to access the thing. But he gets to upload his work for the world to see (though most of his followers are “ROBLOX BOTS!”

We love coming up with new story ideas together and it’s really created a fun and creative way for us to bond and get him doing something he loves that is actually a “real life activity!” (And, yes, we looked into some comic book classes but can’t seem to find anything besides camps that conflict with already scheduled plans. OOF, as they say in ROBLOX).

He may not be winning any softball trophies or gymnastics meets or play lead guitar – for now. But he is living his best life and we are all in this virtual and real world together.

Paige Wolf is the founder of PhillyTweens.com and the author of Spit That Out! The Overly Informed Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy Kids in the Age of Environmental Guilt book and blog, where this post first appeared. She is also the owner of Paige Wolf Media and Public Relations, a B Corporation PR firm focused on sustainable clientele. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, two children, and American Hairless Terrier.