A Parents’ Guide to Minecraft
The Irish Safer Internet Center has developed a guide to Minecraft, a popular game among children, aiming at providing parents with adequate information and tips on the nature of the game as well as its potential benefits and risks for children.
What is Minecraft?
Minecraft is a 3-D computer game where players can build anything. The game which has been described as like an ‘online Lego’ involves building blocks and creating structures across different environments and terrains. Set in a virtual world the game involves resource gathering, crafting items, building, and combat.
It’s one of the most popular games in the world right now and can be an excellent way for kids to learn about creativity and working together.
Minecraft can be played on computers, phones, tablets and consoles. The game can cost around €20.00 depending on what device you are using it on.
Is there an Age Restriction?
Minecraft has been rated as suitable for 7+ by the European games rating agency, PEGI. However the game itself has an age restriction of 13+. This is to do with the administrative requirements associated with retaining data about children rather than any safety concerns. You aren’t asked for proof of age when you are signing up.
Why is Minecraft so popular with kids?
Minecraft is hugely popular with kids particularly those aged between 6 and 13 years old. What makes the game so popular is that players can create anything… from cities to roller coasters and anything in between, there are no rules to the game and the possibilities and endless.
The game also allows for multiplayer mode, a popular function with young players, who enjoy playing with their friends and helping each other build new creations. For most children, the appeal is the freedom the game offers.
Are there any benefits to playing Minecraft?
There are number of benefits and skills children can learn and develop from playing Minecraft. In fact some schools have started to incorporate it into the classroom. So, what are the benefits?
Developing problem solving skills
Improves computer literacy, kids can develop and learn basic programming and software skills.
Encourages creativity and can help develop design skills – Players can build/create anything they can imagine
Improve teamwork skills and encourages collaboration
Improve mathematical, spatial and analytical skills
Are there any risks?
There are a number of potential risks which parents may be concerned with. However many of these can be easily managed.
Minecraft has both multi and single player options. Many kids like to use multiplayer mode to play with their friends and to play with people around the world. As with most online games and apps, there are risks of encountering bad language, harassment, inappropriate content etc. To help avoid this, you can set games for single-player only (this can be done in the game settings), or disable the chat option in multiplayer. Click here for details on how to turn off the chat setting.
Minecraft contains very little violence, graphic or inappropriate content, for example there is no blood in the game. Players can however, hit or kill animals or each other in multiplayer mode, but this is not the main focus of the game and graphics are very cartoon like.
Minecraft on YouTube
Many kids watch Minecraft tutorials on YouTube to get help, hints and tips on the game. Some YouTube tutorials include bad language or inappropriate comments. To avoid your child encountering this, encourage them to use these recommended YouTube channels for Minecraft tutorials.
Here’s a good place to start: commonsensemedia.org/blog/the-10-best-kid-friendly-minecraft-channels-on-youtube
Additional Tips for Parents
It can helpful to set time limits on how much screen time your child is allowed.
Agree some basic gameplay rules – for example decide if you comfortable with your child using multi-player mode or chatting to other players online.
For more information and safety tips on online gaming go to: webwise.ie/parents/online-gaming-for-parents/