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Whether you love it or loathe it, there’s no denying that many kids today are obsessed with Minecraft.

It’s all they talk about.  It’s all they want to do.

And it’s driving parents crazy.

So why does Minecraft have a hypnotic effect on children?

1. Minecraft is a game that doesn’t end

Minecraft’s akin to a book with continuous chapters. It’s never ending.

There’s no definitive start or finish point to Minecraft so it’s really difficult for children to switch it off.

TIP- set clear parameters about what your child will do on Minecraft before they start playing.  For example, they might explain that they’re going to craft a ladder, a torch and then construct another building.

This is a much more tangible way for them to manage their time on Minecraft (as opposed to simply saying “Time’s up.  Log off now.” Which typically ends in “techno-tantrums”).

2. When children play Minecraft they enter the state of “flow”

This is a legitimate psychological state where you become so immersed in what you’re doing you lose track of time.

As adults you know you’re in the state of flow when you get agitated when someone interrupts you, when you’re working on a project that you’re engrossed in. When you’re in the state of “flow” you’re appropriately challenged.

Whilst Minecraft looks rather simple from a parents’ perspective, the reality is that it’s quite challenging for children.

They’re solving problems and constantly evaluating their decisions. These are all higher order thinking skills and it means that children are appropriately challenged (in that state of “flow”).

TIP- Ask your child to explain what they’re doing in Minecraft, before and after they’ve played.  This stops the “digital zombie” effect whereby they become transfixed with the game.  Asking questions encourages them to think critically about what they’re doing on screen.

3. There’s constant novelty in Minecraft

In Minecraft users are constantly presented with new challenges and dilemmas so it creates a state of “hyper vigilance”.  They’re constantly on the lookout for the challenges and tasks on the horizon.

Children legitimately feel like they’re missing out on something if they’re asked to switch off, especially if they’re at a critical point in the game.

TIP- Set definitive parts of the Minecraft experience when you ask children to turn off Minecraft, instead of just enforcing time limits (which they never want to adhere to).  For example, a Minecraft session might end after a transition from day to night (a Minecraft day is 20 minutes long).

4. In Minecraft there are no predetermined rules

Every child plays and experiences Minecraft in unique ways.

That’s part of the games appeal.  No two Minecraft worlds or experiences are the same.  There’s constant novelty.  As there’s no linear set of experiences within Minecraft the game is highly personalised. As such, children are highly engaged because the game’s highly relevant to them.

TIP- Encourage your child to share what they’re creating in Minecraft with you. This shows them that you value what they’re doing and creating online.  It also sets up strong lines of communication and shows your child you’re interested in their Minecraft world.

Establishing these relationships with your child and their technology is essential, in case they’re confronted with an online dilemma in the future.

If they know that you value what they do on Minecraft, they’re more willing to approach you for support.

What else would you like to know about Minecraft? Tell us in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com
  • Some interesting points raised in this article.

    Reply

  • I haven’t even seen minecraft but I have heard of it. I’m sure as my kids get older it may be something they get into.

    Reply

  • There are so many good things about Minecraft. I think encouraging healthy gaming habits and an interest in such things is not bad parenting at all. So good article!

    Reply

  • Really interesting points, when my daughter asked for $80 worth of books on “how to minecraft” books I wasn’t exactly thrilled, but as my husband reminded me, at least she’s reading…albeit about something virtual…and as pointed out, it is a creative outlet of a sort =)

    Reply

  • What an interesting article! My son is obsessed with Minecraft – but most recently him and his friends have found Terreria and a new obsession has began.

    Reply

  • Wow, feeling like the worst Mum ever. I loathe how much time and attention Minecraft takes from my child. It never occured to me that I should be getting her to show me her creations – I should be treating them like any other time consuming hobby or creative endeavour shouldn’t I?

    Reply

  • Some great tips. My 3yo plays it on the ipad and i’m amazed at what she’s figured out and built. I decided to jump on and have a go and well what do you know, it was me that was loving it and designing big mansions for her And she was giving me tips lol unbelievable.

    Reply

  • My daughter loves it, I don’t get it but am glad she loves it!

    Reply

  • i think that minecraft is a great game, i am amazed at the creations that my child has made! she is obsessed with building the highest tower right now, just like rapunzel’s lol i just dont let her play it online though. she does have a really good balance of screen time and everything else which i am so proud about. there is also a lot of merchandise around for the game and she asked me if she could have a minecraft themed party lol

    Reply

  • Aaargh, no end to Minecraft!

    Reply

  • Great article. My son certainly is obsessed with Minecraft. To be honest I think there are worse games he could be obsessed with. That and Animal Jam I’m ok with.

    Reply

  • My 8 year old loves minecraft. She watches youtube videos, reads books and builds the most awesome things!

    Reply

  • Mine started when he turned 14, now at 16, he decided to let his brother do it. He said to him, and I quote, just so you know, there’s more to life than playing “minecraft.”unquote. Oh boy, that’s the best reaction I heard for two years. I’m just taking my time with the other one now and see how far he will go. It was annoying at times, and constantly reminding to do homework after is a task, but, it’s better than wasting time with other silly things.

    Reply

  • Hi
    My 10 years old not just playing the game he is also watching the videos on YouTube. The guy name is stampy who is talking about how to build anything in minecraft also playing the game too.. I am really fed up to see him obsessive like that:((


    • My just turned 6 yr old is the same and he absolutely loves stampy. Has yoputube videos on while playing minecraft

    Reply

  • My daughter (12) my partner and I all play Minecraft. I think its a great game for kids and adults alike. It brings out your creative side and its non violent. There is a setting on the game where monster come at night time and try to kill you, but its not gory or anything like that and the monsters aren’t scary.

    Reply

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