Minecraft - A Parent's Guide

Minecraft - A Parent's Guide

Minecraft, what is all the fuss about I hear you say? Hopefully, by the end of this blog post you will have a clearer idea about what it is, and what your kids do in the game but more importantly, will they be safe playing it? This is one of those games I wish had been around when I was growing up though as to be honest, it can be a fun game and also a very good social game.

What is Minecraft?

Minecraft is a sandbox exploration/construction game that was released in 2011. It has no real objectives and relies on the player's imagination to explore and build structures. Think of it as a playground filled with lego pieces! It is a game that doesn't come with instructions so they learn by researching on youtube ( If you haven't already checked out my video on YouTube Safety you can find it here) or within the huge fan community that has built up around the game. It is one of the most popular games of all time having sold over 200 million copies over various platforms and currently has over 173 million active monthly users. 10 years after release for a game to still have that kind of community around it tells a story of its popularity.

In Minecraft, the first thing a player does is create a world and name it. Then you jump into your adventures by exploring your new world, building as you go. There will be a lot of gathering resources and then figuring out what to craft them into, for example, you might pick up wood from a tree to create a bunch of sticks, and adding more wood will allow you to make a pickaxe which you then use to mine stone and build a house and so on and so forth. Within your world, you will likely encounter mobs which are hostile ranging from spiders to zombies and everything in between. The story in Minecraft really is whatever you want it to be and you can play it alone or decide to play against others in multiplayer.

What different modes are available in Minecraft?

There are three modes of play available to choose from Adventure, Creative & Survival. Each mode has four levels of difficulty Peaceful, Easy, Normal & Hard. The difficulty level will dictate how difficult the mobs are and add other challenges into the mix. Adventure and survival modes are similar in that you will battle hostile mobs, build and try not to die, and adventure mode differs slightly in that you can download player-created game maps to play on. I would suggest creative mode is a good place for younger players to start as you will have access to all resources allowing you to build anything and you won't be attacked by hostile mobs.

Is Minecraft safe?

As with everything online it can be safe if the right controls are in place and you are showing an interest in what the child is doing.

In Minecraft, you can set the game to be single-player in creative mode on the peaceful setting and that will allow the child to play alone with no conflict. I think though it won't be long before they are nagging you to let them play with their friends in multiplayer. A few things worthy of note before you make that decision though

  • Minecraft servers are generally well moderated and welcoming but children can still be exposed to adult content, strong language, hate speech and bullying amongst other things.
  • Minecraft attracts players from all age ranges and as with other social platforms, this will mean the presence of sexual predators.
  • The player-created environments in adventure mode can contain sexual scenes, bloody battles and other mature content.

I am sure you will be happy to know that there are ways to protect against exposure to such things though.

  • Join a personal Minecraft server, these are called realms and are invite-only servers for up to 10 players, maybe they can join one with friends.
  • Find a well-established server from the vetted Minecraft server list or the Just for kids list.

Chatting in Minecraft

In multiplayer sessions, it is possible for your child to see chats from strangers and there are a few options available to deal with that.

  • You are able to mute, block and report players in-game. To do so just pause the game, select from the options for the specific player and then follow the on-screen instructions.
  • You are also able to turn off chat and external website links. When playing a multiplayer session, press the escape key, click options and then multiplayer settings and then click on 'chat shown' to turn chat off.
  • Remember that there are also the child-friendly servers that I mentioned earlier, which are moderated and therefore should be safer to chat on.

Does Minecraft have in-game purchases?

There are items available for in-game purchase but they are not required to succeed in the game and are basically skin/texture packs which will change the look and feel of things. This is an area that would be worth a discussion with your child so that they are aware of this fact, maybe they would be willing to spend part of their pocket money on such packs.

Is there an age restriction for playing Minecraft?

Minecraft is rated 10+ by ESRB as they state that it contains fantasy violence, including an ability to engage in violent acts such as lighting animals on fire or hurting animals with weapons. There are some alternative, but similar games available for younger children that you can look at here.

What can children learn by playing Minecraft?

There are often concerns over the amount of time children can spend attached to their handheld devices and rightly so, as with everything though it is a balancing act. The good thing is that there are many positives to Minecraft and what it can teach your children, with the required levels of communication and supervision in place. They can learn social skills such as communication and teamwork. The game can also teach children how to be creative and solve problems. If you do want to move them away from the screens and stick with the Minecraft theme, there are Minecraft toys available including role-playing toys and building blocks, which they can play with their friends.

Is cross-platform play possible?

Since 2019 all available systems, including PS, XBox and Switchhave allowed for cross-platform play, this means that everybody can play together regardless of what platform they are using.

Hopefully, this blog post has been useful to many of you and as always try to use this information as a knowledgebase for you to have a conversation with your child, show interest in their hobby and most of all let them know they can talk to you if something doesn't feel right.

That's all for now but please do reach out to me via my email or YouTube channel, if you have any comments, questions or comments