The Dangers of MineCraft and the one thing you should do to prevent problems

MineCraft ParentingIf you have boys in the ages of 8 to 14 years old, most likely you have heard of MineCraft. MineCraft is a computer game where you get dropped into a world where there are creepers ย and monsters, and you can build your own world, at the same time trying to survive with these kreepers around. You can play with multiple people together on your own server or on someone else’s server.

My kids who are 7, 9 and 10 years old started playing MineCraft in August, and have played ever since. They love it, they created their own worlds, from Mario Galaxy to Star Wars, but also recreated the city in which we live and Paris. It is pretty impressive.

They can build these worlds by finding resources, like wood, blocks, etc and they can craft glass when they have collected and mix together the right resources. (I would tell you what it is, but I’m still learning too!) It kinda looks like lego bricks but more like natural resources and obviously it’s in a virtual world.

My kids have been enjoying playing and exploring in the MineCraft world for months, and they are very passionate about it. I always had a listening ear to when they shared with me their stories, and always looked at their newest creations they were showing me.

But that isn’t enough.

It wouldn’t be enough in the real world either.

If I wanted to spend more time with my kids, I knew I should connect with them in the area that they are passionate about, to deeply connect with my kids. These were the thoughts going through my head for weeks. But at the same time I wasn’t interested in playing MineCraft for myself. At all! Then a few weeks ago my husband joined my kids and started an account to play with them, and see what they really were doing. And he revealed a shocking fact:

Sometimes my kids were mean to each other on MineCraft, if they were angry with each other, they were being mean in the game – and even though we are close to the kids, we might not even notice it. They sometimes killed each others character on purpose.

If they would hit each other in real life, I would not allow it, talk to them and work with them. But now they were online, I didn’t always see what was going on and if they were respecting each other.

If I want to be a good parent and lead by example, then – was my conclusion – I should be with them on MineCraft to see what’s really going on and lead by example and discuss when stuff comes up that might turn into a fight.

And that’s why I am now on MineCraft. To parent my kids.

And to spend time with my kids.

Instead of asking them to meet me where I am at, I am meeting them where they are at. The place they are most passionate about at the moment: MineCraft.

Oh, and believe me. Your first try on MineCraft is not gonna be fun, it’s a steep learning curve! My kids wanted to help me out many times, but I asked them to tell me what buttons to press so I could try it and learn to remember. The first time I played I was done after 20 minutes. But you can build it up from there. Walking around in those hilly areas is no fun. I felt I needed 3 hands to do everything I needed. And it looks like my kids do it so easily.

Practice makes perfect.

And I must say, I am very excited to see that my kids are so much collaborating. Helping each other find food, resources, etc.ย It builds trust for the future.

But I want to stay part of their world, we are a family, we are all in it together.

And now we are all into MineCraft too.

  • Thanks for this post Marieke. I had a similar experience when my son was playing World of Warcraft. I wanted to spend time with him so I got in the game. One of the most valuable things about it was that he was the expert and I was a newbie at the time. So he could be the one to teach me. This role-reversal is very empowering to kids and it lets us parents experience first hand the kindness and patience they are capable of. It was a valuable experience in more ways than one and WOW actually had a big influence in my success with social media marketing. I hope your experience with MineCraft is just as rewarding. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I am a Minecraft parent too. (2 boys, ages 11 and 7), there are nice things about MC too – like working together towards a goal etc. But I think I’ll join you and create an account to see what’s really going on.

    Thanks for the post.

  • Years ago, my two older girls created accounts on Myspace. I did not know. This was done when they were visiting with their cousins. When I learned of this and the fact that their cousins told them to put in a bogus age because they were under the minimum age I decided I’d better get on Myspace myself to monitor their activity.

    The internet has really changed our world compared to when we were growing up and what our parents had to deal with. It’s not all so black and white now.

    I’ve been through so much with my teenagers. I’ve had to explain the consequences of “airing dirty laundry” on the web. The issues with posting certain pictures online. The danger of who they are friending.

    One way of explaining to my girls about who to add as friends on Facebook was that they’re only allowed to add people they have met face to face at school or somewhere else locally. After all, people have friends of friends. But, in the world of Social Media, this is not the same thing.

    Glad you jumped on board with Minecraft and thanks for sharing!

  • Princess Nagger (10) is also a huge Minecraft fan – she keeps telling me I need to play it, but I’ve been resisting (mostly because I just don’t understand it!) But if you can do it, I should, too. Plus you’ve brought up some very good points! Thanks for that! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Love it! We are also a MineCraft family. My kids (except the baby) all play and so do I and dad. They are 4, 6, 12 and 13. Great post. Love to see other families are like us on this one. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • How cool is that! I never thought about it from that perspective! I am not a video gamer, but the next time the kids sit down to play I will be sure to take my work to where they are and watch them and maybe jump in! Thanks for opening up my eyes!

  • A group of us at Gangplank have setup a server just for kids involved in our programs and many of us also log on and play on occasion as admins to make sure the world they operate in is healthy and functioning. It has been an eye opening experience. It is great to see them pick up real life skills in an online world. If you think of it as a playground where there needs to be independence and autonomy but where an adult needs to check in regularly to make sure things aren’t getting out of control it can be an incredible experience for all involved.

  • My little guy (age 7) went through about a 6-month phase of not only playing Minecraft but watching YouTube videos to learn how to build things.

    The issue with that: the guys (almost exclusively guys) who make the videos are teenagers or young-20s with potty mouths. And that’s where our struggle came in: the more he watched, the more he learned about the game. And I’m not a prude about language — but I don’t want my kid to think it’s okay to speak like that. Especially at age 7!

    We could have banned the videos altogether, but how realistic would that be? People curse. Everywhere. He needs to learn what’s okay and what’s not at some point.

    Many talks later, we limit his iPad time to one hour (after homework, before bed), and one video. Thankfully, he’s moved on to Scribblenauts which is just as fun and has helped his spelling and reading immeasurably.

  • Sorry for the late response. I don’t like the potty mouths on Youtube too. I am open for my kids hearing it too, but I don’t want that to think its the norm. It’s a choice people make and it has an impact on how you are perceived. I tell my kids to move on to the next video if I don’t feel comfortable with what I hear.

  • Jules

    My main concern about Minecraft servers is not the language, but the fact that adults can interact with young children on these sites. At present my granddaughter is obsessed with Minecraft and it has been a harmless activity until recently. I don’t mean that anything has actually happened, but since she started playing with other gamers on a Minecraft server, she believes she has a true, honest friend playing with her. As a family we decided that the only way to deal with this was to restrict her to the site only. I was surprised at how upset she was, but the ‘friend’ had suggested they make a club and my granddaughter was spending all her holiday time away from the computer working on the ‘club’. She was beginning to invest in the ‘relationship’ and didn’t believe us when we explained that some adults pose as children in order to ‘groom’ kids. She is a highly intelligent girl, but has a trusting nature and I believe the only way to really show her the dangers in these sites is to show her the news stories. That’s awful, it means exposing her to real scenarios that most adults find hard to deal with. Any advice?

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