UAE bans gaming website popular among children
“Parents are relieved that the multiplayer game has been banned, as it was deemed inappropriate for kids”
The UAE has banned a number of gaming websites including Roblox My Friend Cayla, Blue Whale, Cloudpets, and Mariam. The ban was to ensure these games don’t have a negative impact on young people’s lives.
Well, this has impacted a lot of people who had made these games one of their sources of income. A Dubai-based 14-year-old player with online identity ‘The Laughing Unicorn’ was a regular at making YouTube videos of playing the game and has more than eight million views on her channel. She has about 87,000 subscribers, earning her a large sum of money.
“I’ve spent Dh500 on the game and made around 200,000 robux (name of Roblox currency), which would be the equivalent of $700. I’ve made even more from YouTube. I make a monthly average of $350 from YouTube and it is constantly increasing with the growth of my channel. I mostly record gameplays, speed-builds and machinimas, which are frame-by-frame animations,” she said, who has been playing the game since 2016.
“This (the ban) makes me terribly sad and angry. There are so many innocent users, some have spent tonnes of money on the game, some have made tonnes, some were developers and some were innocent civilians. I truly am devastated,” she said, adding that the ban will also affect her in a large way. “I now have to look at a completely different community to join so I can continue my YouTube channel.”
Roblox, aimed at children aged eight to 15, was one of a number of websites blocked on the order of the UAE Attorney General, Dr Hamad Al Shamsi.
Some parents said their children were saddened by the block in a discussion on the topic on the Abu Dhabi Q&A Facebook page.
“My nine-year-old plays Roblox daily, I monitor his games and chats from time to time and I haven’t come across anything that would indicate that this game is harmful,” said one poster.
“I know the open chat is a portal for strangers but he only interacts with his cousin back home and a few friends, they talk constantly on the game so I definitely know whom he’s communicating with. He was very upset that this has been banned,” she said.
Another said their child only used the platform – which allows players to design their own games – to talk to his cousins and friends.
“I monitor his web use. We have had several conversations about internet safety, the do’s and the don’ts of cyberspace,” they wrote.
“He is well informed and extremely responsible because he doesn’t want to lose those privileges. The blocking of this game has saddened him because now can no longer interact in a fun way with his friends and relatives.”
However, many parents are fully supportive of the move, parents are relieved that the multiplayer game has been banned, as it was deemed inappropriate for kids – sometimes where players would display nude or inappropriately dressed avatars and use offensive language.
One parent said her son used to play it occasionally, until she heard from colleagues back home that their children’s school had advised against it. She became more cautious about the game after that, she said.
“Although my son is sensible I still wasn’t comfortable, and have to say I’m glad it’s banned,” she wrote.
Noha El-Mohtady, from Egypt, 39, said her daughter, then 10 years-old, played the game round the clock for a couple of months in the summer of 2016 until she put a stop to it.
Many players used swear words, said Mrs El-Mohtady, but the final straw was the sexually explicit content.
“I was shocked. So I banned her immediately from playing the game,” she said.
You don’t know [the players’] backgrounds are and you don’t know how old they are. Maybe they are older than they say they are. From the content and the swearing and actions, this is not appropriate. So I am really, really happy that they blocked it.”
Other banned websites include the websites of interactive toys My Friend Cayla, an 18″ doll, and CloudPets stuffed toys – both of which are reported to have suffered data breaches in recent months.
Blue Whale – a 50-day challenge which ends in the player taking their own life – and Mariam, about a lost girl, were also banned as part of the attorney general’s order.
Blue Whale was allegedly linked to the death of two teenage school pupils last month. And Sharjah Police last August issued a warning about Mariam, which asks users where their home is located, saying it was being used by criminals to steal people’s information.