Description: Minecraft is an insanely popular game with tween and middle school boys and girls. The premise is simple – build things with blocks. Using low-tech graphic and a no-frills character named “Steve” who is sometimes pursued by zombies, Minecraft has created a juggernaut. The game can be used on PC’s, gaming systems (e.g., XBOX) and smart devices with the “pocket edition.” It has its own vocabulary that parents will want to be familiar with, so read this glossary.
APP Store Rating: Rated 4+
The Mode Matters – The Pocket Edition has a “creative” and “survival” mode. The creative mode is great for beginners, with the focus on building, while “survival” mode is where Steve is hunted by scary creatures, including zombies, creepers, and must kill them in order to survive (minimal blood). Players can link up with other players using the same Wi-Fi signal in a local area network. Here’s a GREAT, 2-minute video from Common Sense Media with the “Top 10 things parents need to know”.
Sex Mods? Well, kind of, but not really. You can read more about it in this blog post from our friends at Protect Young Minds, but Mojang has never sanctioned X-rated content. But, there’s a hack for everything.
Stranger Danger – There is now an app called “Multiplayer for Minecraft PE” which allows players to enjoy online play against other Minecrafters without being on the same Wi-Fi signal. The risk of running into another player with bad intent was minimal when networks were limited to the same Wi-Fi signal, but with the ability to now play with strangers, parents must be much more vigilant if they allow use of the “Multiplayer” app. Consider this news story from Texas about a predator who used Minecraft to get to a young girl.
Who’s this Steve Guy? “Steve” is the first-person player used by Minecrafters. Players can download “skins” online to put on Steve to dress him up in an endless number of outfits. Like anything where humans get involved, there are some websites that promote skins that are very inappropriate. Parents just need to be careful there.
Careful with YouTube – we find that many kids like to watch YouTube videos of other people’s Minecraft worlds. The problem is that far too many Minecraft channels on YouTube contain inappropriate content, language or both. Common Sense Media has compiled links for 12 family-friendly Minecraft channels on YouTube here.
Screen time Concerns – finally, kids tend to become extremely addicted to this game. Its content isn’t too concerning (other than some scary zombies), but kids seem to want to play for hours and hours. This might present a screentime challenge for parents.
Overall, Minecraft is fun, and with proper supervision, is a safe game for tween and above, allowing kids to explore their creative side.