Is your child CRAZY about Minecraft but you’ve been wondering what the hype is about – and if you should let your child play it? Do you worry your child might play Minecraft too much, or worry that it’s too violent? Maybe you’ve heard some parents say that it’s an amazing tool for learning and will cure all the ills of the 21st Century (doubtful, right?)
Well, I was once clueless about Minecraft and, in fact, I would not let my children (ages 7 and 4) anywhere near it! But they wore me down – and now, I am fine with it. In fact, they’ve even converted me to it a little bit – and taught me more than I ever wanted to know about it. Which is why I decided to write this little review for you, my dear readers.
Just sharin’ the love…
What IS Minecraft?:
Minecraft is a video game designed to lull children into a zombie-like state so they never leave their bedrooms, which allows their parents to finally have a moment of peace! Ha!
Okay, so that’s not really what it is! Minecraft is a video-game that consists of digital blocks that the player can use to create whole new worlds. The game is available on a variety of platforms (iPad, iPhone, Mac, PC, and even Xbox 360)!
The next step is to install a chip in the head to play Minecraft…just you wait and see! 😉
We started off with the Minecraft Pocket Edition for iPad. The kids did great with that. It has many of the same options as the PC game at a fraction of the price. I am SURE you are aware, but if your child is using an iPad please please please do yourself a favor and get a good case for it (we have an OtterBox Defender). I cringed at the price when I bought our OtterBox case, but it has saved our iPad from ruin countless times. (Getting off soapbox now)…
We “upgraded” to the PC Minecraft version awhile back – and it has many more things you can do…which for our purposes was a little too much! The kids prefer the iPad version because it’s simpler to navigate. On the PC version, you use the keyboard to command, and it’s easier to connect to a server (ain’t gonna happen in this house…more on that later!)
Also, note that the game operates in one of four modes: Survival, Creative, Adventure and Hardcore. If you have a young child, you NEED TO CHANGE the setting to Creative! We did not know this, and it was bad. Paprika (age 7) had nightmares for a month about Zombies coming to eat her alive.
In Creative Mode, you have access to all the resources you want and you never die (and you can’t kill anyone either). Oh, and no Zombies! That’s the happy land where I’d like to live!
Is Minecraft educational or just another mindless video game?:
Minecraft is different than a lot of other games in that the user can actively create the setting, and the world the user creates can respond dynamically. I know people say Minecraft is like “digital Legos” – and that’s true to some extent. The difference is that in Minecraft, the building blocks can be used in an infinte number of ways. Also, the creations can stay forever, and you can build on them potentially forever.
That being said, Minecraft is just about as educational as you make it. If your child just walks around the world for the day, perhaps that day would better be spent walking around an actual park. Maybe… 😉
If you want the best of both world – there are now Minecraft-Themed Legos! Ha! Although, I would opt for the digital Minecraft because goodness knows I don’t need any more Legos to step on (or suck up in my vacuum cleaner). Geesh!
What aspects of Minecraft should concern me?
Even though Minecraft is a great tool for all ages – there are some areas of caution:
1) The time spent:
My kids can be sucked into Minecraft and never want to leave. Everyone has their own level of screentime allowance in their home, but bottom-line…it’s just not healthy for anyone to be so fixated on one game. My kids get a limited amount of time to play Minecraft, and I use it as a reward, as well. That being said, my kids do play it together and so while I was worried that playing it would be an isolating experience, I find that they often sit together and build worlds.
2) Connecting to the Server:
A huge feature of Minecraft is the community. Your child can connect to a server and play with other people (of all ages) who are also playing Minecraft at the same time. Strangers, even!
Nuh-uh. Not in my house. Not with my kids.
My husband figured out a way to network our two computers together so that we have an internal server where we can play against each other (technology wayyyy over my head). But for the most part, I DO NOT let my kids play on the server with other people. I am sure I don’t have to tell you why that’s a bad idea, especially for young kids!
3) Minecraft Videos:
There are a ton of Minecraft videos on YouTube, especially, where people can show off their Minecraft creations. There are Minecraft building contests, music videos, and short movies all featuring Minecraft. Paprika (age 7) has begged me to watch the Minecraft Videos.
But here’s the thing: many of those videos have some very foul language and inappropriate content. I used to watch them before Paprika and then bookmark the videos she was allowed to watch. The few times I DID NOT preview the videos…let’s just say I exited out REALLY quickly. Ha!
I don’t let her watch the YouTube Minecraft videos anymore because I don’t have the time to pre-screen everything. Seriously: Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Plus, even the “safe” videos always led to other videos she wanted to watch which had not been pre-screened. I suppose I could find a “safe” YouTube alternative – but so far, I haven’t had any luck.
4) War-Like Behavior, Scary Themes:
In Peaceful Mode, everything is…you guessed it…Peaceful. But when you venture into the other modes of Minecraft, your child’s player could kill or be killed, and also could be attacked by something scary. They could also kill animals like poor sweet little sheep.
That has not been something I’ve wanted to let my kids experience. So, like I said: we choose Peaceful mode when we play. If you venture outside Peaceful mode, it’s not such a Happy Land anymore! 😉
Do you recommend Minecraft for Young Children?
Overall, I think Minecraft is great in moderation. I do limit the amount of time they can play (otherwise they might never come up for air)! Also, because of the strict controls I have in place – always in Peaceful mode and never on a server – I know that they are safe. They have built beautiful castles, elaborate mansions, and explored the depths of the sea all in Minecraft.
It’s a phenomenal creative tool. With the right limits in place, it can be a wonderful game to teach problem-solving while having a lot of fun.
The downsides are that it can take up a lot of time, and if the right parental controls are not in place, it can be inappropriate for young kids. So, take your precautions and then go have some fun!
What has your experience been with Minecraft? Are you a fan? Yes or no? Tell me in the comments! 🙂
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