A North Carolina mother was shocked and disgusted after her daughter's avatar in a popular children's game was "violently gang-raped" by two other people in a public playground of the online game. Amber Petersen described the shocking incident in a Facebook post, which included screenshots of what happened. The experience left Petersen so shaken that she wondered if she should allow her "precious 7-year-old daughter to have access to a screen ever again."
Petersen explained that her daughter Brooklyn was playing a game called Roblox on her mother's iPad. Roblox is an interactive online gaming platform that allows users to create avatars and play each other in various games of their own creation. Amber said that she and her husband were uneasy about letting their daughter play the game, but after adjusting the security and privacy settings to the highest levels, they decided to let her try it. Brooklyn fell in the love with the game and would play it whenever she could get the chance, even while her mother read stories to her.
One morning, while Amber was reading to Brooklyn she abruptly stopped playing the game and showed her mother the iPad.
All of a sudden, she stopped me from reading and showed me her screen.
At first, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. My sweet and innocent daughter’s avatar was being VIOLENTLY GANG-RAPED ON A PLAYGROUND by two males. A female observer approached them and proceeded to jump on her body at the end of the act. Then the 3 characters ran away, leaving my daughter’s avatar laying on her face in the middle of the playground.
Petersen spoke with WRAL and explained that it was personal because her daughter invested so much time and money into creating her avatar.
"She invested a lot of time," Petersen said. "She earned money to get credits to buy houses and different accessories for her world. She's built this up. She has fun living in this little world. It's not simply a game. I feel like she identifies so much with it. And to see somebody do something to her avatar like that ... it felt so personal. It felt so real."
Roblox issued a statement to WRAL saying they "putting additional safeguards in place" and have "identified and has been permanently banned" the player involved.
We were outraged to learn that Roblox's community policies and Rules of Conduct were subverted," it reads. "We have identified how this bad actor created the offending action and are putting additional safeguards in place to reduce the possibility of this happening again in the future. In addition, the offender was identified and has been permanently banned from the platform and we have suspended the game. We have zero tolerance for this behavior. Our work to ensure a safe platform is always evolving and remains a top priority for us.
Amber said she shared the story on Facebook as a warning to other parents, but suggested that instead of spending time using iPads and other devices, they should encourage their kids to read.
Better yet, perhaps you can join me in taking the rest of this summer to challenge your child to PUT AWAY THEIR SCREENS....AND READ!!! Books cannot be hacked, but sadly, I’ve learned the hard way that a child’s innocence can be just at the touch of a button.