Five fun reasons why Minecraft is good for kids!
Although this post is about Minecraft for kids I want to start by talking about some difficult parenting moments. I also want to tell you about a solution to them that I came across by accident. This idea may sound silly at first. But it really has put the fun back into some of my most tense parenting days!
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So have you ever been in the situation where you have felt completely under siege by your to-do lists? Have you been rushing around trying to catch up with chores that never end? Have you been too busy to spend time having fun with the kids? Too busy to imagine having any fun at all?
Let’s face it, that’s not a good place to be. Sometimes there is the temptation to just snap and ask, “why I am the only one tidying up? Why is your room such a mess?” Sticker reward systems have been tried and abandoned. The place is a mess. No one is helping out. It’s a battle to draw the kids attention away from the TV and video games. And you certainly don’t have time to organise an imaginative art or craft activity.
What to do? Here’s a suggestion. Put the to-do list aside and play Minecraft. Now before you click away in despair and conclude that I have lost the plot, wait! Read on to find out why Minecraft is good for kids and good for Mums too!
Why I play Minecraft (and let my child play too!)
When my son showed interest in playing games like Minecraft I wanted to see what he was getting into. So, I started to play the block placing game myself. There is naturally a lot of anxiety among parents about computer games that children play. So is Minecraft a good game for kids to be playing?
Is Minecraft safe for kids?
I like to explore the games my son plays. This helps me to be sure they are not dangerous, frightening or downright inappropriate. Playing Minecraft myself reassured me about what content he would come across in the game. If the content of games your child is playing worries you, it’s a good idea to play them yourself. Then you can see exactly what the game involves.
Of course, the decision of whether to let your child play Minecraft or not is yours. Every parent has different comfort levels with children and computer games. Another consideration you have to think about is how long your child plays. Setting reasonable limits on their screen time at an early stage is important. Minecraft is fun and compelling and for that reason, it can be hard to turn off at times. So that is something to consider too.
One of my main concerns was about my child playing on public servers. The risk that they could come into contact with strangers, be bullied or share personal information worried me. Fortunately, there are ways to play the game without using these servers at all. We opted to play with Pocket Edition and not use public servers. Instead you can link up with another player using a tablet or phone who is in the vicinity and play together. Later we played together on the WiiU console.
If your child does want to join servers to play with other children there are safe options. You can look for child-friendly servers which have moderators.
If you have any concerns about your child’s safety when playing Minecraft check out expert guides. The NSPCC and O2 have lots of tips to help keep your child safe online.
Once my concerns were out of the way I actually started to enjoy the game. Pretty soon I was slaying zombies, crafting tools and mining for diamonds like a pro. In creative mode I built a city – an emerald city no less – based on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It even had a yellow brick road surrounded by poppies leading up to it.
I could see why kids like Minecraft. The colourful blocky world is full of possibilities and allows you to play how you want to. Long after I had grown tired of placing emerald blocks, my son continued to add detail and structures to the Emerald City!
Once we started to play on the WiiU we could explore more texture packs and options. The Greek Mythology texture pack, which is incredibly majestic, is a favourite of mine. My son’s interest in Greek God and Goddess myths grew after reading the Percy Jackson novels. So exploring the Minecraft Greek Mythology texture pack added extra dimensions to the stories he had read. It is possible to build scenes from books or myths in Minecraft. I found the Candy texture pack a bit overwhelming. Be warned – like eating too many sweets – it can give you a headache!
You might be thinking, ok so this sounds like fun. But is Minecraft good for kids really? And is it good for parents to play with them? Here’s five fun reasons to get playing.
Five reasons why Minecraft is good for kids
1) Playing games with your children can encourage them to be helpful
Ok, so this one isn’t just about Minecraft or computer games, but applies to any kind of play. When you are having a day like the one I described earlier, it’s time to play with your kids. Have a time out from housework. It can be good for your state of mind and have a positive impact on your kids too. It doesn’t mean the housework will never get done. But you can let playing with your kids help get you through the day.
I found this actually encouraged my child to help out with chores. One day I was trying to finish washing a particularly huge pile of dishes. My son called out – “do you want to play Minecraft Mummy?” “Yes, I do,” I sighed, “but the dishes need doing so I will have to finish them first”. “When will you be finished?” he asked. “In a bit”, I said. “How long is a bit?” he asked reasonably.
Finally, it dawned on me to ask him to help and I would be done quicker. Often, I have found that requests for help with chores are met with reluctance. This would lead to my feeling overwhelmed and grumpy. But not in this instance.
Help came quickly and enthusiastically as he realised it would speed up getting to play the game.
So you see, play Minecraft (or anything really) with your kids. You will be able to encourage them to help around the house. This will free you up to play with them. And, it’s awesome fun too.
This may be a part of parenting that you have already got the hang off. Especially if you have encouraged your child to play with kitchen or cleaning toys from an early age. But, I’ll admit, it took me a while to realise this simple fact. One of the best incentives to encourage my son to help around the house was to play games with him!
For us, it started with playing Minecraft, but the theory can be applied to any form of play. And as an added bonus, I had the chance to have fun and refresh my mind. I even discovered a gamer side of myself that I never knew existed!
An added bonus is that gameplay in Minecraft itself can also encourage co-operation. One way of playing the game is to create buildings, challenges and settlements together. This requires players to communicate with each other and manage building projects in a collaborative way.
2) Minecraft can help kids to build confidence in their creative skills
The best aspect of playing Minecraft alongside my son was I saw his creativity go wild and his confidence grow. Like other parents, I have appreciated the benefits a game like this can have for children.
My son could quickly create stunning builds. In the games creative mode he would build huge statues of lions, Iron Man, fortresses and hotels. He set up challenge games for us to play and a build-a-battle arena for quick build competitions. I could see that planning a mission or other good Minecraft games could encourage teamwork, problem-solving and planning.
In survival mode, we would grow crops to survive and fend off creepers from our fortresses at night. It surprised me that I would enjoy playing Minecraft so much.
It has also impressed me that I have not needed to make suggestions or direct our play. Unlike linear platform games, you can pretty much do what you want in Minecraft. You have a wide range of choices about the way you play. Every time you play can create different outcomes and adventures.
It’s very much player-led which means it can be totally child-led. When playing with my son, I really just tag along. He lets his imagination take us away on an adventure.
3) Playing Minecraft can feed into enjoying reading
Every time I manage to get some quality time with my child I feel lucky. Playing computer games is a fun way to spend time with him doing something he loves. Another is to get him talking about the books he is reading.
One idea my son has had is to create themed worlds about book characters and locations. He has set up adventure maps based on scenes from The Hobbit book. This is a fascinating way to get kids talking about stories and what they have been reading.
Reluctant readers who are fans of Minecraft can also benefit from checking out guide books to the game.
4) Minecraft can support children’s education and learning
Many schools are now using Minecraft in a variety of ways to support learning. As mentioned above children can use Minecraft guides and handbooks to find out how to progress in the game. This can support reading skills such as retrieving information.
Other educational aspects of the game include encouraging problem-solving and having an understanding of geometric shapes. Players also need to be aware of the number of items they have. Once they have enough of certain elements it can enable them to make useful tools. For example, they will need four wooden planks to create a crafting table. All of this can help children to improve maths skills.
The use of ancient world texture packs can also encourage children’s interest in history. Additionally, there is no limit to the kind of builds that you can create in Minecraft. This means children can get involved in re-creating historical landmarks or events in the game. For example, teachers have used Minecraft to teach children about life in the Bronze Age.
5) Kids can gain confidence in real-life tasks too!
In a roundabout way, Minecraft helped my son to gain confidence in carrying out real-world tasks. He helped me to wash the dishes so that I could play Minecraft with him. This fostered a sense of co-operation. It also helped him to gain confidence with real-world chores as he started to do them more often. Gaining confidence in carrying out chores means he can build independence in the real world, not just the virtual!
Do you want to give Minecraft a try but are not sure if you are ready for the full version? You could try the pocket edition for phones and tablets first. You can download Minecraft Pocket Edition here.
What do you think, is Minecraft bad for kids or beneficial? Let us know in the comments below.
If you are looking for gifts or books for Minecraft obsessed friends or family members check our gift guide here.
– Find great books & activities for kids here at readinginspiration.com –
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