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

A friend of mine, and co-founder of The Open School, wrote the following blog post and I love it. You can find her blog here.

If 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  and monsters, and you can build your own world, at the same time trying to survive with these creepers 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. 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.

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13 Comments on "The Dangers of MineCraft and the one thing you should do to prevent problems"

  1. David
    09/03/2013 at 2:54 am Permalink

    It actually seems like a positive thing that your children can use a harmless video game to vent their frustration at each other and seems like a heathy outlet. Many parents assume that just because they prevent their children from showing this frustration that it doesn’t exist! Look at how brothers settled things in the good ‘ole days, and now. Now it’s much less physically harmful!

  2. CY
    12/06/2013 at 1:05 pm Permalink

    We are newbies to Minecraft. I have allowed my 8yr old on single player and my 11yr old on multiplayer. Needless to say, I was STUNNED the first day I sat behind him and watched the chat screens. there are friends on this particular server, but the language and behavior was like school yard bullying! I was not happy. I actually sent a message to the moderator and told them I didn’t think there was any moderating at all going on. I rec’d a pleasant reply, to my surprise. but I’m still leary of those multi-player games. Connecting with them in their world is great advice. I’m so happy to leave Spongebob behind. 😉

  3. KP
    23/09/2013 at 11:26 pm Permalink

    My son, who is 9, has been obsessed with Minecraft for the past year. I had started to be convinced of the ‘learning benefits’ of this game and I noticed changes in my son’s thought patterns and reading level, BUT today I deleted this game from my computer because my son was on ‘multiplayer’ and chatting with other people and he had started to learn ‘unacceptable’ words from chatting with other people who don’t have the same personal limits or house rules. So at the point where I caught my 9 year old child typing “oh cra*!” on this game dialogue, I decided to delete it from our world altogether. They can claim to ‘moderate’ these chat forums, but for parents who are concerned with dialogue and moral upbringing, well we’re just out of luck, apparently… my best to you all. 🙂

  4. Lisa Holman
    30/09/2013 at 6:12 pm Permalink

    Thanks for your post. I found it because I simply googled something like “is minecraft dangerous?” and it led me to your post. I have an 8 year-old OBSESSED with minecraft. While I’m pretty computer savvy I know NOTHING about minecraft and am now concerned because he has found other people to chat with. So far, it’s pretty innocent – and all they do is certain jobs in his world. But I’m thinking of stopping it and reducing him to single player. Perhaps I need to do as you did and play with him!

  5. Penny Cash
    12/01/2014 at 12:18 pm Permalink

    I find it just a little sexest the you would think that only boys would play Minecraft because my GIRLS love it. While i don’t have it at home whenever we go to my sister in laws they always play with their cousins.

  6. Cassi
    13/01/2014 at 9:52 pm Permalink

    I’m sorry you felt like you had to take such drastic action, and I understand your concern about negative language and chat. The same thing happens when our kids start to watch YouTube videos of Minecraft, and some of the players use language we wish they wouldn’t. But, this is part of our world and if the word “crap” is offensive to you, things are just going to get worse. I find that the more I react to potty-mouth language, the more interesting it becomes to our kids. We have instated a time and place when it is okay to use those kinds of words, and we just get it out of our systems. It’s also a really good conversation starter about WHY that language is undesirable. I’m afraid that deleting Minecraft because of some chat from other players, is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. This could have been an opportunity, but instead your son likely feels resentful and confused about your reaction.

    Our kids will be in a virtual world their whole lives. It is better for us to coach them about how to present themselves in that world than to just pull the plug entirely. When that happens, they learn very little other than to not get caught.

  7. Cassi
    13/01/2014 at 9:55 pm Permalink

    Yes, play with him! I recommend that for everything your child is interested in. Not only will it give you a better insight into his passions, but will also build your relationship together. And, you will quickly become the cool mom. 🙂

    I would recommend finding a server that YOU trust, if you are worried about other players. There are some servers that run a very tight ship, and will ban anyone who cusses, griefs other players, etc. The homeschooling world is full of these type of servers.

  8. Cassi
    13/01/2014 at 9:56 pm Permalink

    I’m sorry it came across that way. This post was originally written by my friend with three boys. I don’t believe she is saying that girls don’t play, but rather that if you have a boy, you have almost certainly heard of Minecraft, whereas it’s not as guaranteed with girls. I hope you can take the spirit of her words. Also, you should buy Minecraft for your girls. 🙂

  9. becky
    10/03/2014 at 12:39 pm Permalink

    Oh my gosh a parent deleted minecraft because of a noun. I have very good morals but I can give a crap about a word . I love minecraft my son is making a flat world for his history project anyways yes it is awesome for girls and boys all ages. My daughter and I play on our kindles and on Xbox there is no community chat just us. I’m sorry some people are that uptight to limit their child she doesn’t sound like a unschooler if she is worried about the level of reading and the word crap. yikes

  10. Leo
    11/05/2014 at 7:12 pm Permalink

    I know about the language on the servers. I have confidence that my son is learning some skills on this game, because he tells us of his disappointment when the bad language comes out. My concern is more about my son’s constant comparisons of real world science and what Minecraft shows. I keep telling him that it is a computer simulation. There are frequent times when the game is very close to real physics. That is dangerous when he will have to “unlearn” what he thinks is real from Minecraft. Are there any children out there who have wanted to learn more about computers in order to do more on Minecraft? My son has not learned much at all about the basics of computers, except that daddy knows how to do fix things. Junior has learned that daddy will not fix things until junior takes an active interest in learning how the programs work. It is a work in progress.

  11. Delphinia
    27/05/2014 at 2:12 pm Permalink

    Hi, I am a nine year old girl when i was 7 i started watching minecraft videos for example stampy long nose , i have a friend who plays minecraft i asked her how to play, she showed me. on Febuary 17 2014 my mom bout me minecraft . It was very fun , a month later my minecraft stoped working , I was very disapointed my mom spent 26 dollars on that game i tried to fix it but every time it failed I even donloaded 2 mods and i didn’t even get to play them ): Now i only play on pocket edition minecraft but still i do not have enough recores as PC Minecraft .

  12. Sandra
    09/06/2014 at 4:24 pm Permalink

    I have just TRASHED minecraft, my ten year old wants to do nothing but play this “game”, he has little time for friends, eating etc…and just now we had the most terrifying night terror, with him screaming around the house believing he was being attacked in minecraft…I’ve debated for a month about deleting the game…but after tonight I’ve not a single doubt…

  13. Brian
    27/07/2014 at 12:02 pm Permalink

    I suspected that mindcraft must have something sinister about it because my 14yr old is so addicted to it. Furthermore he has some problems, some real social issues. He’s not the average kid – somewhat unbalanced. My other kids are amazing, beautiful, healthy, intelligent kids. Since I know nothing about mindcraft, I made a search to find out the dangers and came up on this page. I am glad I did because I feel I now know what to look out for.

    I brought up my kids to love God and others; to be gentle, honest, kind, loving, clean, responsible, hardworking. I taught them these values by being an example and being patient and understanding, praying, trusting Jesus and keeping watch. I especially keep watch over the environment they get into. I have sewn the seeds of godliness in them, and i have nurtured them in this. There’s something fundamental. We need to protect them from environments that are beyond their level – beyond what they will safely develop in. Environments can damage, seriously injure or setback development. Environments can destroy. We are responsible to ensure our kids are allowed into environments that cannot harm them but be on their level, the level they can handle.
    So reading this page, I asked the younger kids if they ever encountered bullying, abuse, obscenities. What they told me was there are servers where that is common and there are servers that are cleaner. They said that the eldest, Stephen, seeks out servers hat have nice people and none of the dark stuff. I was glad to hear that. It encouraged me to know that he was actually seeking out the brighter environments and thay all play together and help each other in the game. They said that on that server, if you destroy other peoples properties you get kicked off

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