Do your kids have a Minecraft obsession?
This is not necessarily a bad thing, I am pretty sure there are a lot of kids with a Minecraft obsession! Millions of kids love to play Minecraft with a passion, and this fun game has spread right around the world. But the problems can come about for those who want to keep on playing day and night. As if that is not bad enough, there are YouTube videos filmed about Minecraft, and books written about Minecraft.
Is there a line between Minecraft obsession and addiction?
Do you worry if your child’s Minecraft obsession has become an addiction? I guess if Minecraft is truly addictive, then this is a problem. But first let us explore the reasons why.
Why are kids obsessed with Minecraft?
My personal opinion about Minecraft is bemusement! Why use such a granulated graphics appearance these days? Why do kids love Minecraft despite the ugly graphics? I simply do not get it! But kids get it and that is all that matters, and they are absolutely obsessed with Minecraft! Maybe it is because it looks a little like building with Lego blocks. No matter whether it is the use of blocks, or that we all love to build things, Minecraft seems to fill a void that we all love to play. The adventure of building a whole landscape, house, high rise building or whatever is a grand adventure. Then taking to the sky and flying over the top of your new creation is a stunning experience!
The thrill of survival
As well as the building aspects, there is the independence that kids experience as they are responsible for looking after their own digital world. The need to build shelter and grow food is a primeval urge within humans, and Minecraft follows these basic elements of survival. Kids get to have fun at the same time as thinking about what they want to do, and planning how they are going to do it. Pretty clever really!
Minecraft can become a form of expression
So I guess I can understand that kids love the freedom of expression once they become fully immersed in their creation. It never becomes boring when you have the freedom to create whatever you like, and to play with it, improve it, build it bigger and even tear it down. My kids just love to use TNT for all kinds of creative destruction. If that sentence doesn’t make sense, then maybe I have been watching too much Minecraft!
Minecraft allows for a networked experience
Another aspect that kids enjoy about Minecraft is to network with other friends and siblings. With the powers of the internet, kids can actually network with their friends and share their creative talents, combine their powers of coordination, and develop whole scenarios together.
Minecraft is a learning experience
So one of the greatest attractions of playing Minecraft is the almost continuous learning and development that kids get from playing. Around each and every corner there is a new adventure, or a new skill to master. Every time kids see something different, they convey that information to their friends, and it snowballs. Every moment pf playing Minecraft is about fun and excitement, and it is certainly addictive! This is not the kind of game that kids can play for an hour and then put aside for later!
How do manage kids with a Minecraft obsession?
Although we as parents like our kids to get involved in something, we are acutely aware when it becomes an obsession. Life is not all about computer games, there are things like sleep, eating and bathing that need to fit into the day! Is it possible to teach kids to self regulate when it comes to an obsession with Minecraft? We have no choice, kids have to learn to manage their own behaviour. If that means fighting overt screen time, or lack of manners when it comes to negotiating more play time, then it can become difficult to manage a Minecraft obsession.
Parents make the rules!
Unfortunately for kids who would love to play Minecraft all day and all night, parents make the rules. It is extremely unlikely that parents will allow their kids to play Minecraft all day and all night! So there needs to be some rules around the length of time that kids can use their computers. We call that screen time, and there are definite limits. Sure, the limits get stretched and broken, but there is a general acknowledgement around the rules. Not only that, but there are age limitations on the different aspects of Minecraft, such as different downloads, YouTube videos, and even the type of monsters that are appropriate for young kids. Kids with a Minecraft obsession should be allowed to play, but within the safety boundaries that are established by parents.
Teach kids to self regulate their time
We use Minecraft as a negotiation tool to help kids to regulate the time they spend, and to remember other things that they have to do. In this way they can learn to plan how they intend to spend their time, and to allow time for chores and homework. In fact, we find that we often reward them with more playing time in return for good behaviour and self regulation.
Help them find ways to extract from the digital world
There are lots of ways to help kids to stop playing Minecraft, even with a Minecraft obsession! For example, they could read some Minecraft books instead. Or they can take their imagination offline and go outside and enact some of their imaginary adventures in the outdoors. This can work very well to extend their imagination and creativity, whilst getting some fresh air and sunshine. If the Sun is not shining, there are some indoor solutions to help them stop playing Minecraft. A good one is to transition straight to Lego blocks, which means they can keep that creative streak going. Lego is always great for developing their imagination, and the best part is that they can play with the creations at the same time.
Parents need to supervise
Unfortunately, all parents know that we should watch our kids more closely, but sometimes it is difficult to monitor their every move. As with any networked computer game, parents need to watch who their kids are interacting with and to make sure everyone is playing fairly. If a child is becoming overwrought with emotion, then this can be an opportunity to take time out to calm down. Even we adults need to understand the importance of that skill. If your child is scared of the monsters, then be sure to switch the game to safe mode. Survival mode is really only suitable for older kids who can handle the extra stress of running from monsters.
When to draw the line with a Minecraft obsession.
If your kids are becoming unreasonable when it comes to obeying the rules around Minecraft, then there should be consequences. If they forget their manners when it is time to stop playing Minecraft, or playing the game secretly at night, then this behaviour has to be dealt with appropriately. There is a difference between an obsession with Minecraft, and an out of control addiction. However, in my experience, the establishment of ground rules is the key to setting the boundary. Here at ImagiPlay, we believe that the benefit of having an established boundary is that kids learn to manage themselves.
Or else there are consequences for a Minecraft Obsession
The consequences for stepping outside the established boundaries can have a direct effect on their obsession with Minecraft! This has to include a range of consequences, including removal of game time. This tends to work very well, and despite a short period of resistance, even the biggest Minecraft obsession can be overcome.