Minecraft is super popular with kids. It’s fun to do, but also very educational. The game stimulates creativity and improves school performance. These are all the advantages and tips on how to play Minecraft safely.
What is Minecraft?
What Minecraft exactly is cannot be captured in one word. It’s a video game, virtual LEGO, a mining simulator, you create your own world with it and it’s adventure. Players step into a different, virtual world that knows no boundaries. So there is a lot of freedom to build, to travel and to shape your own ideas. It’s real life, but a lot simpler.
Minecraft as teaching material
Minecraft is regularly used in primary and secondary education. With the arrival of the Education Edition, it is now accepted teaching material. Minecraft is seen as one of the few computer games where children really learn something and where the brain is stimulated in a good way. They have to build and survive. Playing Minecraft for half an hour before bedtime will improve your grades in school and social skills. But there are more advantages:
- Minecraft improves school performance
Minecraft improves school performance, especially in geography, physics, history, and math. For example, a block in Minecraft consists of four wooden planks. Children must therefore always calculate whether they have enough wood to buy items in the game to build with. They also learn to think abstractly and think in solutions. This works when answering questions at school and homework is done faster. And that means more time to play!
- It stimulates creativity
When Minecraft was launched, the tools in the game were necessary for survival. Meanwhile, players give free rein to their imagination and castles, tree houses, houses and the most special creations are built, where they can express the most original ideas.
- It teaches kids not to give up
You don’t have to save a princess or be the first to the finish line in Minecraft, so there is no specific goal in that sense. The players are rewarded when they have completed a certain task and that motivates children to follow through on plans and achieve goals. It also encourages them to solve things themselves and not to ask for help directly.
- Geometry is made easy
Geometry teaches children to use their spatial imagination. They learn to think about how buildings, shadows, mirror images and plans work, to visualize this in their minds and to consider how they can best approach a building. It is very nice to see how easily children pick this up in the game.
- Self-confidence grows
Children are often told that they cannot do something yet because they are not big enough or do not know enough. But in Minecraft, they can do everything just as well as adults. And they really do that themselves, not the computer.
- Kids learn teamwork
By switching to multiplayer mode, kids can build and play together. In other words: working together as a team, making each other enthusiastic and thus completing tasks faster.
- Children become more social
Because the game is so versatile and popular, it is a good icebreaker and social lubricant among children. As one mother recently told BBC News, “My son has faced many challenges connecting with children at school, but Minecraft has brought them together.”
- No brute force is used
There are many violent games for children available online and in stores. And while there’s no scientific evidence that gaming can induce aggression, many parents find it reassuring that there’s no brute force in Minecraft. Although it’s not entirely innocent either: at night monsters, zombies and square spiders appear.
Parental authority desired
Especially in the beginning it is wise to discover this game together with your child. First, because it’s fun to step into that crazy virtual world together, where you have to catch pigs with a fishing rod. But you can also keep an eye on it and you know what your child is talking about when he talks about his Minecraft adventures. Moreover, with Minecraft you do not receive instructions and explanations in advance of what the intention is. This can be frustrating for children and parents can help them with that.
At the same time, it is a great strength of the game: finding and sharing information on the internet is almost a mandatory part. Kids look for tips and tricks on YouTube channels and Minecraft Wiki. Be sure to do that together in the beginning, because in some videos and tutorials the language is annoying. Then turn off the sound or find a channel that does appeal to you.
Create a shielded world for your family
An important factor of Minecraft is that you play it with other people. There are thousands of servers around the world that anyone can connect to. You have no control over those worlds and it attracts all kinds of people. That can lead to unpleasant encounters, be aware of that.
To avoid these risks and play the game safely, set up your own server with a Minecraft world that only you and your kids can access. Then you have complete control over the ins and outs of your world. For example, if you don’t want monsters to appear after midnight, you can.
If setting up a server yourself is too much of a hassle, Minecraft Realms makes it easy to create private worlds with friends and family without the technical hassles of a Minecraft server. This service is not free, but works with a subscription.
Minecraft and the real world
Don’t want your child stuck to the screen for a long time? Bec Oakley aka MineMum, mother of two Minecraft fans, has some good advice for that: try to connect activities in Minecraft and those in its real world. What he learns in the game can often be translated into the real world. Oakley gives all kinds of tips on her blog. For example, make paper Minecraft dolls together, bake a Minecraft cake, build creations with LEGO or sand… Plenty of inspiration!