Monday, 21 March 2016

Help! My Child is Obsessed with Minecraft

We often meet parents who are worried that their child is obsessed with Minecraft and want to know what they should do about it. My kids are currently very much into Minecraft so I thought I'd return to this issue.

It might sound like a trivial issue for families that don't have this problem, but to some kids Minecraft is just so compelling that it's difficult to get them to take interest in anything else.

Much as we love Minecraft it definitely needs to be part of a balanced life that includes plenty of other activities.

The Short Answer

I've previously given a short reply to this issue as a comment response:

"That's another article in itself. But briefly our approach is:

  1. Get involved with Minecraft too and make sure they're doing constructive stuff - get them into coding mods, sharing a server with cousins, designing skins, building stuff from books they're reading etc. 
  2. Make sure there's other stuff on offer like taking a cool robot to the park or building a project with a Raspberry Pi or LEGO Mindstorms."

Is it Really an Issue?

First you need to look at whether it's really an issue. There are far worse things kids could be doing than playing Minecraft and it has some real positives. (In fact, we'd probably be more concerned if our kids weren't playing Minecraft.)

Minecraft is a good thing. It allows kids to express themselves in a constructive way, develop spatial awareness skills and also provides a way for them to socialise with their peers. Minecraft is increasingly being used for education and for research in academia and in industry. 

That's not to say that kids should have unlimited access. Reading books is a good thing, but I wouldn't let my kids spend every waking minute doing that either. Not because reading is bad, but because there are other things they should be doing too (like playing Minecraft.) 

If you're worried about how much time your child is spending playing Minecraft and you don't really understand what it is then it's worth taking some time to learn more. Play Minecraft yourself, get them to show you around a world they have built. Watch some Let's Play videos (we love Stampy.)

There are ways to tap into an interest in Minecraft to develop other skills. If you understand a bit about Minecraft then you may be able to steer their use of it in constructive directions so that you're more comfortable with the amount of time they spend using it. 

You may find that your child is already doing some really useful things with Minecraft. Or you might be able to steer their play in a direction that you're more comfortable with. 

If your child is just playing Minecraft a lot, but not excessively then this may allay your concerns. 

On some days my kids would happily spend every waking moment playing Minecraft or watching Minecraft videos. That's not going to happen, even if they are using it constructively, so sometimes you need alternatives. 

Alternatives to Minecraft

A child who spends too much time playing Minecraft will be missing out on other important activities including: exercise, spending time outdoors, ability to work with physical materials, reading, doing chores, chatting with non-Minecraft playing family members, cooking, crafting (the other kind!), etc.

If you're just telling them to stop playing Minecraft so much then you can get into an energy-sapping conflict. Instead it's worth putting that energy into coming up with some interesting alternative activities. 

Work out what you think is important and provide opportunities for your child to engage in them. Sometimes kids need a bit of encouragement to do something other than the default. This can require some parental involvement, at least to get them started.

When our kids are in Minecraft mode we tap into that to lead into other activities and find other fun things to do.

Ideas include:


  1. Understand what kids are doing in Minecraft and encourage useful activities. They may actually be doing more constructive (ahem) stuff than you realize. 
  2. Make sure there are other engaging activities on offer, remember that you might need to spend some time to get them started. 
Different approaches will work for different families and kids so you many need to try a few different things.

More from Tech Age Kids:


Post a Comment