If your child has been going around muttering “Creepers, Endermans, Mods” then the chances are they are immersed in Minecraft which boasts more than 100 million registered players around the world, many of them under 18s. So what do parents need to know about this phenomenon? Here is the The Only Minecraft Guide for Parents You Need to Read:
What is Minecraft
Minecraft is basically a construction game where you can build anything you can imagine out of blocks in imaginary worlds. Every player sees a different world because each world is randomly generated afresh each time. It’s a creative game that can be played alone or with others.
- There is no adult content or graphic violence. Players explore, search for resources, build and create structures and tools.
- Often called ‘online Lego’, kids are attracted to Minecraft by the chance to be super creative in a cool environment with just a few simple rules.
- Mod stands for modification, so e.g. making your own characters, resources, tools, etc.
- Minecraft has been rated as suitable for 7+ by PEGIB. iTunes has a 4+ rating for their Pocket Edition.
- Developers Mojang don’t allow anyone under the age of 13 to set up an account meaning any new purchase will have to go through a parent.
Creative and Survival Mode
There are 2 game modes (out of a total 5 available) that you may hear your child talking about: Creative Mode and Survival Mode:
#1. In Creative mode, you have an inventory of different block types to build with. Your only tools are the blocks and your imagination.
Creative mode is used by players interested by the building part of the game. Some players focus on architecture creating magnificent buildings and cities. Others focus on engineering and create complex machinery. Many players never leave Creative mode, because it allows them to build such amazing structures and they don’t need to worry about enemies appearing (as in Survival Mode).
Check out some of the most amazing creations on Minecraft.
#2. In Survival mode, there are enemies like Creepers and Skeletons (and the aforementioned Endermans) that you have to defend yourself against. In survival mode, you are stranded on a world with absolutely nothing. You will have to gather, craft, explore, mine, capture, discover, breed, farm, and protect. Survival mode is a great adventure game where you can do almost everything you want.
It can be intense and a little creepy for younger kids on Survival mode, for example, you may need to kill animals to survive, and although there’s no blood they do make a grunting noise when attacked, and there are lots of dark corners that need exploring.
What Do You Play Minecraft on?
MineCraft is available for
- devices such as iPod, iPad and Kindle Fires
- gaming systems such as Xbox and Playstation.
It can be played by a single player or multiple players. You can also play online with friends or strangers.
Pocket Edition Multi Player
If you have 2 or more different devices using Pocket Edition and sharing the same modem via Ethernet or wireless system, then you can play Minecraft with the other people on the same world.
Or you can actually set up a private server which will limit the players to only those friends and family in your home, or the ones you’ve invited (you can find instructions on how to do that here).
Multi Player Servers
Then there are multiplayer servers that allow players from around the world to build, explore and play together. Most of these multi player servers are not monitored for language or content, so as with any online activity, children need to know how to be safe. There are also family friendly servers available where moderators do keep an eye on language etc.
How Much Does It Cost?
Minecraft Pocket Edition
You can purchase Minecraft: Pocket Edition for iOS devices at the App Store, on Android devices at Google Play, or on a Kindle Fire at Amazon for around $6.99/£4.99/€6.99/.
Minecraft for PC
You can buy Minecraft for PC from Minecraft.net for $26.95/€19.95/£17.95. This is a one time purchase. You can buy an account for yourself, or buy a code to give away. The great thing about Minecraft is once you have paid the desktop or device fee, there are no in-game purchases. So you don’t need to worry about your child racking up costs.
Minecraft for Xbox
If you want to play Minecraft on Xbox, you can get the Minecraft: Xbox 360 or Xbox One Editions from the Xbox Live Marketplace website or through your game console, for about $18.99/€17.99.
Minecraft for Playstation
Minecraft: Playstation 3 and Playstation 4 Editions are available from the Playstation Store online, or through your game console.
Benefits of Playing Minecraft
Many parents worry about their child becoming obsessed with Minecraft and wanting to spend so much time playing it. As with any online game or activity it is important to limit time but you should know that there are benefits to playing Minecraft too:
- It can help improve mathematical, spatial, and analytical abilities.
- It encourages problem-solving.
- Kids learn 21st-century skills like online collaboration and basic programming logic.
- It hones design skills.
- It allows kids to express themselves in the things they choose to create, the way their character looks and the adventures they go on.
- It encourages creativity and exploration.
Minecraft on YouTube
Kids watch YouTube tutorials to learn how to play Minecraft. The main parental concern here is knowing that video is suitable for kids and doesn’t contain swearing or inappropriate comments.
Here are recommended Minecraft YouTubers who are child-friendly:
Tips for Parents on Kids Playing Minecraft
#1. Control how, what and how long
As with any other computer game or online activity the trick is to control how they use it, what they do with it and how much time they spend playing it.
You might find Screen Time: How Much is Too Much for Kids? and Tips for Managing Screen Time useful
#2. Encourage your children to show you their creations.
It will amaze you what they create. My daughters have built the most stunning houses and have thought of everything from swimming pools to home cinema rooms.
#3. Limit play time
Limit their play time and you might say if you play 1 hour of Minecraft you need to do 1 hour of normal playtime.
#4. Play it yourself
Have a go at playing it yourself and get your child to show you the basics. This is one of the best ways of learning and understanding what it’s about.
#5. Download only from Minecraft.net
Always make sure that you are downloading Minecraft from the official Minecraft website.
#6. Keep an eye on what they do on Minecraft
Again, as with any online activity, make sure you have visibility on what they are doing on Minecraft.
Useful Articles and websites
You might find these Minecraft articles and websites useful:
Youthdigital.com Is Minecraft Safe for my Child?
Yahoo Tech 5 Reasons Parents Should Stop Worrying about Minecraft
Minemum.com – lots of information and articles about different aspects of Minecraft
Cybersafetylady.com.au A Parent’s Guide to Minecraft
Related: 10 Tips for being a “Webwise” Parent and 5 Tips for Parents on Tablet and Smartphone Online Safety
Over to you know, what’s your experience of your child playing Minecraft? Any tips? Share them in the comments below.
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