With millions of copies sold, Minecraft is one of the hottest cross-platform games capturing both your child’s imagination and attention. With the ability to create infinite amounts of worlds limited only by your imagination, it is no wonder this game is so popular. As this game has taken over the hearts and minds of our children, parents have reasons to be concerned.
When your child gets home and picks up the virtual pick axe over the books, it may very well be connected to lackluster performance in school. Which also means that they are daydreaming about what they will be doing all day while in school or socializing with other Minecraft addicts about the game. To even further your cause for concern, when your child is not playing the game they may be fixed watching video services like YouTube and Twitch, which are stocked full of Minecraft videos, shows and player channels streaming the games non-stop. Sometimes parents do not realize there is an issue until they are notified by the quarterly report cards. Undoubtedly, as a parent this can be frustrating, so what is a parent to do?
Limit Time and Activity
One course of action is to apply some automated controls that govern how much the game can be played. Since this game is available across many different platforms, this could pose a challenge, meaning that Minecraft is not just available on the computer, it is also appearing on most game consoles. It’s amazing that shutting it off on one place, just simply sends them to another place to pick up where they left off. The XBox is one of the most popular platforms for playing Minecraft, and it has parental controls which can limit the amount of time your child can use the console. As a precaution, these controls can be circumvented given enough time and then they may end up with more time than you were planning on. Windows 7 and above on the PC has the ability to set times your child is allowed to use the computer; this is pretty effective as it also blocks most of the internet and allows parents to inductively add both authorized websites and applications. Minecraft is now emerging on PlayStation consoles, and those platforms have similar parental controls.
Nothing beats manual supervision, in the same way of controlling how much your child spends watching TV. In this day in age, most kids have televisions or PCs in their bedrooms and sometimes you might even catch them up past their bedtime getting more game time in. Ideally, moving these devices out into the a common space like the living room would allow you to have tighter control not only the amount of time spent playing games but keep a closer eye on the content they are subjected to.
Use this opportunity to have shoulder to shoulder time with your child. Consider, that in their mind that they are investing themselves into something really amazing and special. Spend time sitting down with them while they give you a tour of their latest creation. If you have an extra PC or console, jump in and play a game with them on their terms and let them take you on an adventure.
When I was growing up, my mom spent much time keeping our house in order. When she looks back on us growing up, she wishes she would have spent more time “getting on the floor and playing with us.” As children grow up, time flies and they are walking across the stage before you know it. By that time, you may miss how young they were and wish you would have spent time with them. Do not miss an opportunity to stop, and get on the floor to play with your kids. Even if you just sit there next to them watching them play Minecraft, they will appreciate the bonding time and being able to show off what they have worked on. At the very least, bring it up as a subject of conversation at the dinner time at family time.
Minecraft is a great opportunity to relate biblical principles. Rather it was the game designers intention to teach biblical principles or not remains to be known for sure, but there are some ideas that are illustrated through the game. The bible states “And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand,” in Matthew 7:24-27 (ESV). In the game, sand falls and sometimes even cascades if there is nothing to hold it up underneath. So building a structure on top of it goes bad if the wrong block gets removed somewhere beneath the house. Throughout the game, monsters spawn into the game in dark areas that are not very well-lit, so using torches are a method to keep the bad guys from spawning, “For deep darkness is morning to all of them; for they are friends with the terrors of deep darkness” – Job 24:17 (ESV). Ephesians 6:10-18 teaches us to dawn the armor of God to withstand and fight evil, the character in the game can also dawn armor and a sword to fight off monsters.
Use Minecraft To Teach Programming
Stir up your child’s passion for coding using a Raspberry Pi and Minecraft. The Raspberry Pi is a $25 computer developed by the Raspberry Pi foundation with the mission of providing a cheap computer alternative for kids. All you need is a keyboard, mouse, HDMI compliant TV or monitor and a memory card to get started.
In December of 2012, a version of Minecraft became available specifically for this platform and comes pre-packaged with a way to pass commands right to the game through an application programming interface or API using the Python programming language. Python is a general purpose, high level language that is focuses on making programs easier to understand.
In this day in age it is more important than ever to learn how to code. The world relies so heavily on information technology for commerce, entertainment and information, knowing how to code to build applications to contribute to these developments is crucial. Allowing your children the ability to code opens them up to a potentially valuable trade skill. Python is one of the easier languages to learn, and while it may not be useful for building the next Facebook or Google, the abstract ideas that are acquired from learning these skills can port to any language they decide to learn in the future.
Craig Richardson developed an online book developed in parrallel the Python learning track from Code Academy which introduces the programming concepts in the same fashion. Code Academy is a free online resources for learning how to program, so is the Python Programming book that Craig wrote which you can find here: http://arghbox.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/minecraftbook.pdf
As parents, we really love our children and we want the best thing for them. At times, we feel that our children may be completely over taken by video games and we must find ways to apply our parenting skills. You can choose to limit your child’s interactivity with the games or at least control it to a healthy amount so they can at least see the light of day from time to time. Get involved with your children and learn more about what they are doing, or use this as a way to teach impart some biblical wisdom. Better yet, use this as a tool to teach your kids how to program in this ever demanding world of technology. However, never neglect them or use any video game as a babysitter. Be the best parent you can be and my blessings are with you to finding a healthy balance in your home.