Parents are being reminded to pre-vet every app their young children download amid renewed concerns that virtual reality gaming is exposing minors to sexual advances.
The US-developed game Roblox received global attention this month after a British father decided to check out what his sons were playing on their mobile device.
The game lets players explore imaginary worlds and allows them to interact with other users over a chat function.
"I was asked to lay down on top of them and they started with sexual movements," father Iain Morrison told the media about his time on Roblox. Australian cyber safety expert Susan McLean told ABC Radio Darwin the news report came as "no surprise."
"I have already had children in Australia report inappropriate interactions in this game," she said.
Roblox was founded more than a decade ago but in recent years has ramped up its global presence and accessibility on various devices, with its developers today claiming 44 million active players.
Its website states there are existing chat filters, with those logged in as being under the age of 12 placed under a "restricted chat" function to protect their wellbeing and safety.
But Ms McLean said concerns about Roblox highlighted a broader issue.
"Any app or platform or game that allows two-way interaction between your child and another player is going to have predators on it," she said. "And then the risk ramps up when you can have chat. That's one of the features of this game.
"I think this is a very important warning for parents to not [just] look at the app or game developer's website. They will only tell you sunshine and happiness."
Advice for parents concerned about gaming
Ms McLean said parents should maintain an "open conversation" with their children about what games they were playing and downloading. "Primary school children in particular should not be downloading games themselves. Full stop. It should all be done by the parent.
"The rule should be the child asks the parent, the parent checks [the game] out, downloads it, then locks the device again. That gives the parents some control.
"The notion of 'I don't do games, it's all too hard' — that's not effective parenting in the 21st century."
Ms McLean added that parents should be researching games online and checking in with parenting information on the website of Australia's Children's eSafety Commissioner.
The commissioner's website has a listing on Roblox, including information about its two chat modes for children, however has no particular advice warning against the game.
In a statement to the ABC, Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said there were "potential dangers for any child using apps or social media services with chat functionalities".
"We need to be constantly engaging with them online, educating them about 'stranger danger' and encouraging them to speak to a trusted adult if they ever feel uncomfortable," Ms Grant said.
The app developer has been contacted for comment.