Many parents worry that their child is “addicted” to Minecraft. It’s a concern facing many families today. And one that I speak to many parents about throughout Australia during the Parent Seminars I deliver.
You’re not alone if your child’s suddenly become mesmerised by Minecraft.
Perhaps you’re experiencing “Minecraft mania” with your own children as you battle with your child to turn off the computer, or hand back your tablet that they’ve monopolised for hours, immersed in the digital Lego world of Minecraft.
Maybe your friends have warned you about the perils of Minecraft. You’ve heard countless stories of children’s Minecraft obsessions. And this petrifies you (and you hope that you can avoid your child succumbing to the Minecraft trend).
Parents are bewildered as to how their otherwise well adjusted child can become so mesmerised by an online game. And how this can happen so quickly.
Now before you panic, rest assured knowing that Minecraft can be a great learning tool. Children can learn an array of academic concepts and skills (multiplication, writing and reading skills to name a few). In fact, there are growing numbers of schools throughout the world who are exploring the educational potential of Minecraft with students.
But Minecraft has to be carefully managed to ensure that it’s a beneficial experience for your child.
You see, children can easily become “entranced” and “”obsessed “ by Minecraft. It’s enticing. It’s mesmerising. (Note, I’m reluctant to use the word “addicted” here because there are very few children, typically only 1-3% of children, who are legitimately “addicted” to technology).
So what can parents do to prevent their child from becoming addicted to Minecraft?
1) Establish Minecraft rules
Parents need to establish (and enforce) rules about how much time children can play Minecraft. Not only do you need to discuss how much time they’ll spend playing the game, but you also need to discuss when, where, how and with whom Minecraft will be used.
In an ideal world this should happen before the game is downloaded.
I suggest parents come up with a Minecraft Management Plan (which is included in the Managing Minecraft Masterclass I’ve created). With your child, sit down and map out exactly how Minecraft will be used each day. This gives your child very clear parameters and also gives parents clear guidelines, so it’s easier to manage your child’s Minecraft experience and ensure it’s a healthy experience.
2) Help your child transition away from Minecraft
Demanding that your child switch off Minecraft at a specific time or after an elapsed period of time is often ineffective.
And it often results in tears and techno tantrums. Why? Children are often getting little squirts of dopamine and adrenaline when they’re playing Minecraft (these are the feel good neurotransmitters). They’re being rewarded for their efforts. And this feels good. And they crave more and more of those neurotransmitters. So they’re very reluctant to just switch off when you ask them to, as their brains are craving more of these feel good hormones.
To combat this, give your child repeated and ample warnings that they’ll soon need to finish playing Minecraft. This enables them to make the necessary arrangements to finish their Minecraft session (you see Minecraft has no clear start or finish points so this makes it even more difficult to just switch off).
Warning your child that their time will soon be up on Minecraft helps to prime them for what’s coming next. Typically, I recommend at least two warnings before it’s time to switch off. It’s also helpful if you give them a visual cue, such as a countdown timer on your tablet or smartphone, or an old-fashioned egg timer works well.
3) Create a succession plan
Children need to know what’s next on the agenda after they switch off Minecraft.
And it really helps if it’s something they’re looking forward to doing (and logging off Minecraft to go and do homework is definitely not appealing for most children). Another good reason why you should insist that homework’s done before Minecraft.
Perhaps consider a menu board of activities from which your child can select after they’ve finished Minecraft.
This empowers your child because they’ll have choice to determine what their next task or activity might be. And kids love choice!
Do you have any tips to add?