What is Minecraft? How do kids play it?

By:
Kidas
5/22/2024
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Minecraft is a sandbox video game that allows players to explore, create, and survive in a blocky, procedurally generated world.

Developed by Mojang Studios, Minecraft offers players endless opportunities for creativity, adventure, and collaboration. With its simple yet versatile gameplay mechanics, Minecraft has become one of the best-selling video games of all time, appealing to players of all ages across multiple platforms.

What is Minecraft? How do kids play It?

In Minecraft, players can explore vast landscapes, mine resources, craft tools and items, build structures, and interact with various creatures and entities. The game features different modes, including Survival mode, where players must gather resources to survive and fend off threats such as monsters, and Creative mode, where players have unlimited resources and can build to their heart's content. Minecraft also offers multiplayer options, allowing players to join servers and play together with friends or strangers in shared worlds.

What is the appropriate age for kids to play Minecraft?

Because of its overt simplicity, Minecraft is generally considered safe for players of all ages. It is rated for everyone 10+ but it is frequently played and enjoyed by kids younger than 10. Although it is not completely free from violence, it doesn’t feature glorified shooting or killing the way other popular game genres do. The graphics are fairly rudimentary and the overall goal of the game is easy enough for even young minds to grasp.

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It’s recommended that you assess your child's readiness to play Minecraft and provide guidance and supervision as needed

Is Minecraft safe? What are the risks?

Minecraft is one of the most accessible games in the world as it is available on all gaming consoles and devices. The game, which is commonly described as, essentially, virtual Legos, enables players to build and destroy virtual dwellings they create themselves. It can be played with friends or strangers, is popularly used by educational institutions in relation to teaching math and is often a favorite with kids and adults who suffer from focus-related issues. Minecraft is simple to play, which, simply put, makes it widely appealing and easy to get hooked on. 

Like any other online game, there are risks associated with Minecraft. Players may encounter cyberbullying, harassment, or griefing (intentionally disrupting others' gameplay) in multiplayer environments. However, with proper supervision, guidance, and the use of safety features, parents can help mitigate these risks and create a safer gaming experience for their children.

Let’s look at some of the risks of Minecraft.

  1. Cyberbullying: Although foul language and online bullying aren’t unique to Minecraft, they are certainly a concern. Like with any open world game, such as Roblox or Fortnite, your child is virtually connected to other players, which makes it difficult, at times, to monitor the language and conversations they might be privy to. Cyberbullying is often seen in the game when players intentionally destroy creations in the game. This is known as griefing. After spending hours or even days building virtual dwellings, it’s extremely devastating when others intentionally seek out your child’s work to destroy it. Here are some examples of what bullying looks like in Minecraft:
    • attacking a player to the point where they cannot play the game 
    • waiting at a players home in the game or at a project for them to respawn (come back to life) so that they can continue killing them 
    • following the player through the game to continuously kill them 
    • waiting from the player somewhere in the game that you know they will go to kill them 
    • inciting others to attack the player so that no one gets banned for repetitive killing 
  2. Overspending: Minecraft, like a number of other video games, has its own in-game currency, called Minecoins, that players can use to purchase virtual items or items from the official Minecraft store. While rewarding your child with Minecoins for a job well done or gifting Minecraft dollars for holidays and birthdays can be a fun gift, it can easily lead to your child overspending online. As your child communicates with others in the game, they may find themselves pressured by others or even scammers to spend more or to buy and give them items for “help” in the game. 
  3. Addiction: Any video game can be addictive, and Minecraft is definitely not an exception. It can feel incredibly satisfying to build something from the ground up, see where you can improve and then try again. It can easily become an obsession, building and creating an online world where tasks are simple and straightforward.
  4. Online predators: In the gaming world, predators are everywhere. Having effective parental controls are essential to keeping your kids safe in any game or platform that allows communication with strangers, including Discord. 
  5. Scammers: Believe it or not, there are many Minecraft scams floating around the internet just waiting to attack your child on Minecraft. There are Skyblock Scams that have been created to steal your child Skyblock items and coins, scams that send a link to click and download that will lock your child out of their account and free giveaways that offer your child a challenge they can’t turn down resulting in your child being the winner and winning a “special prize” that will hack their computer. These are just a few of many. There are many scams out there that are run through various platforms, including Discord, that your child needs to be aware of. 
  6. Privacy violations: Sharing passwords and other personal information with others while playing Minecraft is very dangerous. 

8 benefits of playing Minecraft

In most cases, there are benefits in addition to the risks. When it comes to Minecraft, there are many benefits to the game:

  1. Minecraft helps kids hone their problem-solving abilities: In order to be successful in Minecraft, you have to learn to complete a number of tasks. You have to build a place to live, gather food and craft tools to successfully create their world. To truly “win” at this game, a player must think on his feet and adapt, important lessons in the virtual world and real life.
  2. Improve their math skills with Minecraft: In Minecraft’s virtual reality, kids can cultivate complex shapes, learn about and solve geometric problems, manipulate blocks and more. These geometry problems will improve their math in no time!
  3. Minecraft encourages teamwork: On screen, like in life, sometimes the only way to solve a problem or tackle an obstacle is with help from friends. Calling in help isn’t without its own challenges- learning to work together when you have different ideas and different goals can be challenging. But learning to work with others and compromise to reach a common goal is one of the most important lessons you can ever learn.
  4. Kids can learn to code in Minecraft: There are so many benefits to teaching kids to code. Think about how many coding schools and programs are popping up all over the country! Teaching kids to code when they are young will give them an immeasurable boost, in college and beyond! Kids can practice their coding skills within Minecraft by editing the original Minecraft code as mods to manipulate the game in whatever way they desire.
  5. Minecraft helps kids learn how to manage resources: When you want to build something in Minecraft, you have to strategize how to do it. Kids will have to figure out which tools they will need to build the dwellings they want, and then they will have to figure out how to pay for and acquire those tools. Learning to manage money and resources when they are young will be hugely beneficial to kids later in life!
  6. Kids have the ability to be endlessly creative in Minecraft: Because this game is an open world, there are virtually no rules or script to follow. Kids can create their own paths, build their own dwellings and design whatever they want. The sky is the limit, encouraging kids to think outside the box and create something that maybe hasn’t ever been made before!
  7. Minecraft teaches kids to focus on something to achieve a goal: If your child wants to build a big, fancy home in Minecraft, it will take time to build. Your child will have to focus on creating the dream home and then put in the time required to successfully create their dream home. Teaching kids to keep working at something until they complete it is a great way to help them learn to focus on their goals.
  8. Kids gain confidence when playing Minecraft: In the virtual world, kids make decisions about what they are going to do by and for themselves. They don’t consult with Mom and Dad and don’t always ask for help from friends. They make decisions based on what they know and what they learn, and then they succeed or fail- and consequently learn- from these decisions. Each successful choice helps kids gain the confidence they need to succeed in other areas of life, too!

8 tips to keep your kids safe on Minecraft

  1. Set up parental controls: Use parental control features available on gaming consoles, computers, and mobile devices to manage your child's access to Minecraft and monitor their gameplay activity.
  2. Choose safe servers: In order to play in a multi-player format, your child needs to play on a server. They can find these servers to join with other Minecraft players, join their friends’ servers or create their own. Encourage your child to play on reputable and moderated servers that prioritize safety and enforce community guidelines against harassment, bullying, and inappropriate behavior. Consider whitelisting servers, selecting servers you approve of to add to the allowlist, so that you feel safe with the servers your child games on. 
  3. Teach online safety: Educate your child about online safety practices, such as not sharing personal information, being cautious when interacting with strangers, and reporting any instances of harassment or inappropriate behavior. You can use the payer reporting tool to report players if needed. 
  4. Monitor multiplayer interactions: Regularly check in on your child's interactions with other players on Minecraft servers and intervene if you observe any concerning behavior or communication.
  5. Encourage creative play: Encourage your child to explore the creative aspects of Minecraft by building and designing their own structures, worlds, and projects in Creative mode.
  6. Limit screen time: Set time limits for Minecraft play sessions and encourage your child to take breaks from screen time to engage in other activities, such as outdoor play, reading, or hobbies. If your child seems obsessed with playing Minecraft- or any video game, for that matter- you may want to consider drastically cutting screentime or taking steps toward engaging your child in activities outside of video games. While some video gaming is perfectly acceptable, too much of anything is still too much. 
  7. Limit communication: One option to limit what your child is exposed to in terms of language and bullying while playing Minecraft is to mute the chat function or turn off the speakers on your computer or game console. You can also turn Minecraft on single player mode to prevent your child from interacting with others while playing the game. You may want to try to follow up each gaming session with a quick conversation about anyone your child interacted with or anything that made them feel uncomfortable.
  8. Play together: Join your child in playing Minecraft together or observe their gameplay to better understand their experiences and provide guidance and support as needed. Your child will amaze you with how much they can do in this detailed game!

Conclusion

Minecraft offers a rich and engaging gaming experience that encourages creativity, exploration, and collaboration. While the game provides countless opportunities for fun and learning, it's important to be aware of potential risks and take proactive steps to ensure your child's safety while playing. By implementing the tips outlined in this guide and maintaining open communication with your child, you can help create a safe and enjoyable gaming environment in Minecraft for the whole family to enjoy!

Parents should consider their child's maturity level and ability to handle the game's content and online interactions responsibly. Some younger children may struggle with part of the game's complexity or find certain aspects, such as survival mode or multiplayer interactions, challenging or overwhelming.

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