A Guide to What Parents Need to Know About MinecraftJul 29, 2022
Minecraft is an open-ended building game, a sort of electronic version of Legos on steroids. The game is never-ending, and the combinations of play are endless. It can be a fantastic educational tool and can encourage creativity, teach kids to set and complete goals, make math fun, and encourage teamwork when in multiplayer mode.
However, like with anything in your child’s life, moderation is key. Because of the never-ending nature of the game, it can be easy for kids to become engrossed and absorbed by Minecraft. The most important thing parents can do is to set clear and consistent limits with their child’s gaming time.
I’ve created this guide to help parents understand everything they need to know about Minecraft, and help their children use it healthily and responsibly. Download my PDF guide to Minecraft for even more tips and resources.
How do you play it?
You can play Minecraft on almost any device: gaming console linked to computer or TV, tablets, smartphones, or handheld gaming consoles.
There are a few different modes for play:
- creative mode—you have all the creative freedom that the game offers, without the monster attack element (which was originally a big part of the game’s narrative).
- survival mode—you must survive against monsters and hunger.
- adventure mode— you cannot break blocks, but you can kill or be killed by monsters.
How old should my child be before I let them play Minecraft?
Minecraft was NOT created for children. Yet millions of children around the world are hooked on the game. I would advise waiting until your child is at least 7 or 8 before introducing them to Minecraft.
Common Sense Media rates the game for children 8-years-old and above. One challenge you may face is when an older sibling plays Minecraft, and you have to refuse your younger child.
Is it safe?
Depending on the settings, Minecraft can be a safe online game for your child to play. For example, if your child is in the “Creative” mode, using the “Peaceful” setting then they can enjoy the creativity of the game without any of the conflict or battle related parts of the narrative.
Ensure your child is also playing in the “single-player” mode to prevent them from interacting with any other users during play (there is a text-chat feature available in multiplayer mode that could allow a stranger to interact with your child during the game).
Multiplayer mode carries the most risk
Part of the fun of Minecraft for many kids is the interactive nature of it. Be aware that allowing your child to play in “multiplayer” mode is where they will be exposed to most of the risks presented by the game. They will be able to interact with other users—whether they know them or not in the “real world”—and could encounter strong language, bullying, and even hate speech during play.
People of all ages play Minecraft
To reiterate, the game was not created for kids and Minecraft has fans and players of all ages. Because of this, your children may be able to interact with mature, player-generated content. Minecraft is also not exempt from the dangers of online predators using it to interact with children.
Stick to child-friendly “realms” and servers
Common Sense Media suggest that, if you want to allow your children to use Minecraft in the multiplayer mode, “the best way to reduce the possibility of exposure to age-inappropriate language, content, and interactions is for them to join a "realm," an invitation-only personal Minecraft server for up to 10 players created by someone they know. Otherwise, find an established server with very good moderators, such as one of these vetted Minecraft servers or one just for kids.”
Is it violent?
There is mild, but not graphic violence, in some aspects of Minecraft’s content. Users can engage in bloody (but not gory) battles and may have to defend themselves against cartoon monsters—which may be scary to younger children. More frightening monsters may also enter from multiplayer mode if your child is playing with strangers.
Other risks of playing Minecraft?
As previously mentioned, your child developing an unhealthy obsession with playing Minecraft is a significant problem that many parents face with the game.
Like with many other online addictions, there are little signals that your child’s online activities have taken an unhealthy turn. Some warning signs may include:
- Preoccupation with Minecraft; only thinking about the next online session.
- Feelings of restlessness, moodiness or irritability when unable to play Minecraft.
- Lies to conceal the amount of time they play Minecraft. Feelings of euphoria when they play Minecraft.
- Physical symptoms may include headaches, weight loss, or sleep problems.
Check out the digital parenting courses which are split into age-specific pods to help parents and caregivers tackle the challenges that they may be facing when raising children in this digital age.
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