The following is a guest post by Robert Kaufman, founder of Memoriis (more information below).
Minecraft is an award winning computer game that is likely to be a topic of dinner table conversation if you have a 7 to 10 year old. Many of us would agree that understanding and using technology are critical skills for today’s youth and tomorrow’s leaders.
Minecraft does educate as well as entertain but we as parents need to be aware of questionable content and bad habits and not leave our children to their own devices.
A former colleague of mine recently launched a web service called ThirdParent, that deals with online safety for children and teens, an area that I am passionate about. A recent post Time To Have “The Internet Talk” With Your Kids, prompted me to share my thoughts on the Minecraft phenomenon.
Creative – Your child will build and create worlds, acquire resources and be challenged to use those resources effectively. Creative play is limited only by your child’s imagination.
Social – It seems the real fun of the game is that it’s social. Gamers build custom avatars, create worlds and battle collaboratively. There are rules of behavior, a social hierarchy and real time chat pushing players to enhance vocabulary and typing skills.
Educational – It’s a complex game and it takes time to master forcing greater comfort with computers. Interestingly, it’s common for gamers to watch and create YouTube videos to learn and teach about gameplay.
Lack of Parental Controls – Many of the servers or virtual worlds are not age appropriate and can lack administrators to monitor activity.
Addictive – As with anything, especially computer games, too much of a good thing is problematic. Setting limits is important.
Cyberbullying – Minecraft has a social hierarchy and bad behavior occurs. Players can gang up on others, there can be theft of game resources and of course there can be verbal tormenting.
Inappropriate Content and Social Themes – While gameplay includes violence, battles and monsters, they are highly stylized and don’t seem worse than average TV. What’s most disturbing is cursing and sexual content in some servers’ chat area. There are also virtual worlds that contain bars and believe it or not, sex rooms and a marriage feature. I have also seen players ask other users to Skype, which of course for counterparts who are not real world friends, is a no no.
I am sure my friends at ThirdParent would agree you should:
- Be involved and try to sit with your child while they play to share time and experience;
- Learn the language, what are they chatting, creating and who they are interacting with;
- And as always, place limits on technology playtime.
Overall, Minecraft can be a great learning tool, but as always, too much of a good thing can be destructive. In the interest of shielding your child from inappropriate content and guiding responsible behavior, your involvement in your child’s Minecraft play is important to fostering a safe and productive experience for your child and household.
Robert Kaufman is the founder of Memoriis.com, a private and secure family cloud storage and sharing service for documents, photos and videos. Robert lives in NYC, is a proud father of a 9 year old Minecraft expert and is a 25 year veteran of the technology and finance industries.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.