Video Games

One Girl's Experience With Online Gaming And Strangers

Delaney Ruston, MD
December 21, 2021
Teen girl playing Roblox

Today we released a new Screenagers Podcast, entitled One Girl’s Experience With Online Gaming And Strangers. In it, I talk with an 11-year-old girl, Mira, about what she likes about the online gaming platform Roblox and the video game Minecraft. She also shares with me some of the uncomfortable experiences she's encountered with strangers while playing video games and what she's done in such situations.

Most of us know what Minecraft is, but you may not be familiar with the gaming platform called Roblox. It is free and can be assessed from a browser. That said, there are aspects of it that can involve money. 

Mira explains that Roblox “is a  gaming platform where you can code your own games with a relatively simple creator or just play someone else's because you have access to an entire library of everyone else’s games.” She has tried to make a game where avatars jump over obstacles, but she mostly uses the platform to play other people's games. She often plays these games online with people she does not know. 

I started my interview with Mira, focusing on her positive experiences while playing Minecraft.  I asked her if she felt she was learning specific skills or mostly just getting entertained. She told me, 

“I have an amazing sense of direction. And that started in Minecraft because I would be able to just instantly know where something was when I needed to find it. 
And after a while, I noticed that I always knew in which direction and how far away my house was. I just got increasingly better and better with things like where is my house? Where is my bus stop? And then I would just be able to rotate the world around in my mind.”


She also told me that Minecraft helps teach her math because the blocks are in sets of 8s, 16s, etc., which forces her to do a lot of division and multiplication.

It is cool to remind ourselves of another positive of these games, which is they can serve as a method for bonding between family members — given this holiday week, it is a good time to think about that.

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Mira tells me how she has been teaching her grandma how to play Roblox over Zoom,

“She's [her grandma] having a lot of difficulties with moving the camera around. That's the hardest thing for her to notice… but she's doing pretty well with the character customization and other functions like that.”

In the Screenagers Podcast released today, Mira gives more details about Roblox, and she also talks about some of the concerning encounters that can happen on Roblox and Minecraft. For anyone who has young people in their lives that play online games, this is an important episode to listen to with them. Mira brings a lot of spunk and insights that will help get conversations going. 

Here is an example of a stranger scenario she brings up in the episode: 

“I was playing Minecraft Bedrock which is a lot more social version of the other one called Java. Bedrock, unlike Java, has a friend system where strangers can enter your Minecraft world if you let them. And I had that open. I didn't really care because I wanted to meet some friends online. And this guy joined. I got really weird vibes from him. He was talking about how his girlfriend left him, and I was comforting him, saying like, ‘Oh man, sorry, that sucks.’ 
And he sent me a friend request, and I was like, ‘Oh yay, I guess I've made a friend, then.’  And I friended him, and he would join my worlds later, and he would talk to me about how his girlfriend left him and promptly hated him and that sort of thing. I continued to get weird vibes…”

To hear what Mira did in that situation, along with more situations and insights from her, please go to today’s released episode on the Screenagers Podcast wherever you get your podcasts or listen to it on our website. 

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It is such a gift if you can share the Screenagers Podcast and/or rate it if you get a minute. 

I hope you have some wonderful moments with people you care about during these holidays.

I feel blessed to be in ongoing communication with you knowing we have a shared belief in helping support the youth in our lives, our communities, and our planet. 

Questions to get the conversation started: 

  1. What are some of the upsides of any online games we are playing these days?
  2. These days Roblox has more users worldwide than Minecraft. Why do we think that might be?
  3. Some kids only play online games with people they know. Do we know for whom that is the case (it could be the case in your home as well, of course). 
  4. For people who play online games with strangers, what are some alarm bells to be aware of? 
  5. What are good ways to block, report, and otherwise get away from a concerning person?
  6. What incidences have happened, or you’ve heard about, regarding a stranger being particularly cruel with their words? 

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Video Games

One Girl's Experience With Online Gaming And Strangers

Delaney Ruston, MD
December 21, 2021
Teen girl playing Roblox

Today we released a new Screenagers Podcast, entitled One Girl’s Experience With Online Gaming And Strangers. In it, I talk with an 11-year-old girl, Mira, about what she likes about the online gaming platform Roblox and the video game Minecraft. She also shares with me some of the uncomfortable experiences she's encountered with strangers while playing video games and what she's done in such situations.

Most of us know what Minecraft is, but you may not be familiar with the gaming platform called Roblox. It is free and can be assessed from a browser. That said, there are aspects of it that can involve money. 

Mira explains that Roblox “is a  gaming platform where you can code your own games with a relatively simple creator or just play someone else's because you have access to an entire library of everyone else’s games.” She has tried to make a game where avatars jump over obstacles, but she mostly uses the platform to play other people's games. She often plays these games online with people she does not know. 

I started my interview with Mira, focusing on her positive experiences while playing Minecraft.  I asked her if she felt she was learning specific skills or mostly just getting entertained. She told me, 

“I have an amazing sense of direction. And that started in Minecraft because I would be able to just instantly know where something was when I needed to find it. 
And after a while, I noticed that I always knew in which direction and how far away my house was. I just got increasingly better and better with things like where is my house? Where is my bus stop? And then I would just be able to rotate the world around in my mind.”


She also told me that Minecraft helps teach her math because the blocks are in sets of 8s, 16s, etc., which forces her to do a lot of division and multiplication.

It is cool to remind ourselves of another positive of these games, which is they can serve as a method for bonding between family members — given this holiday week, it is a good time to think about that.

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for more like this, DR. DELANEY RUSTON'S NEW BOOK, PARENTING IN THE SCREEN AGE, IS THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE FOR TODAY’S PARENTS. WITH INSIGHTS ON SCREEN TIME FROM RESEARCHERS, INPUT FROM KIDS & TEENS, THIS BOOK IS PACKED WITH SOLUTIONS FOR HOW TO START AND SUSTAIN PRODUCTIVE FAMILY TALKS ABOUT TECHNOLOGY AND IT’S IMPACT ON OUR MENTAL WELLBEING.  

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