Kids and video games. You hear all the time about why kids shouldn’t play video games. They need to play outside more (I agree) or they need to use their imagination rather than rotting their brains in front of the tube (again, with some games I agree) My two little ones play Minecraft and have a slight obsession with the game. They love to play whenever they give a chance. It’s usually a treat for them when chores and homework are done as a way to wind down from the day.
I used to buy into the theory that video games for kids are bad and I still think that anything used too much is going to have a negative impact, but after playing Minecraft with my kids I’ve changed my mind.
I do my best to find things to do with the kids. Something they like to do and at times something that’s going to expand their world. One day the kids asked “Mommy, will you play Minecraft with me?” I sat and thought about it for a minute and figured, what the heck. I’ll play for a few minutes to say I’ve done it and then get back to what I was doing. What happened next surprised both me and the kids.
They’ve Learned How to Teach
I didn’t know the first thing about using the little controller thingy, much less playing the actual video game. The kids had to slow down and show me each little step so that I could play Minecraft with them. They showed me how to jump, they showed me how to run, they showed me how to build things. All the ins and outs of living in the world of Minecraft. They had to learn how to be patient and how to explain things in a way for someone to understand. They are quite the little presenters!
They’ve Learned to Delegate
Since there were now three of us playing the game, they would assign different tasks for each of us to do. One person would collect food, while someone else would get items we needed to build the house, while another person would do the mining or crafting. They learned how to run our little Minecraft household so that we always had the things we needed and everyone had something to do.
They Learned Teamwork
We don’t play the version with the monsters very often, but when we do, we learn how to work together to have each other’s back. We learn to never go out at night on our own. They created an action plan for when we did see those pesky monsters. They learned to look out for one another and take care of each other. This extended to when there were no monsters. We had to be sure everyone had the things that they needed. Made sure that if someone didn’t have food, someone with food would share their food.
We Learned Each Other’s Likes and Strengths
There are different aspects of the game that each of the children liked more than another. My daughter loves to craft, build things, and run our “store”, while my son loves to attack the monsters and build crazy structures. They’ve learned to pay attention to what each other likes. When they’re deciding who’s going to do what, they pay attention to what each other likes and plays to those strengths. I somehow always get assigned to go mining and bring back whatever it is that I’m able to find.
They’ve Learned How to Settle Their Disputes on Their Own
Of course, there is the occasional argument when they play. One person wants to do the gardening and wants the other to do the building, or whatever. In order to keep their world building and growing, they’ve had to learn how to work things out amongst themselves to figure out who is going to do what.
They’ve Learned to Use Their Imaginations
I’ve been shocked at the things that my children have created in Minecraft. They watched the movie Inside Out and the next time they played Minecraft, they created the Headquarters from memory. Their grandparents had taken them to see the movie and I had not yet seen it. When I showed them, they were amazed as they said it looked nearly exactly like the movie version.
They build dinosaurs and princesses and anything else that comes to a child like imagination.
They’ve Learned How Things Work
Minecraft has a ton of different materials that you can use to make different things. They’ve used coal to make torches and to power their furnaces. If they haven’t been able to find any coal, they’ve learned to make their own charcoal using other materials.
They’ve Learned How to Do Research
Sometimes there are things in the game that they don’t know how to do. There are various updates and improvements of the game all the time. If they come across something that they don’t know how to do, they’ve learned how to research it online. They’ve found several Youtube channels that they now follow regularly in order to get the latest “Minecraft news”. I’ve screened more Youtube channels and know more about Youtube people than I care to.
They’ve told me that there are things called “mods” which are like add-ons to the game. They allow you to create new worlds and add new abilities. Just about anything that you can imagine. The sheer number as I’ve come to find is overwhelming, but here’s a great article by my friends over at LyncConf that highlights some of the best ones out there (the best thing is they’re free). My resident Minecraft experts have heard of a number of them and tell me that “so has everyone else”, so they must be pretty cool.
We Learn to Enjoy Each Other’s Company
Minecraft has become a bit of our escape. Our reward for finishing our tasks for the day. It’s a little bit of our family time together. During that 30 minutes or an hour, we’re focused on creating something together. We’re focused on helping each other. We’re focused on being a family. Playing Minecraft together has brought us closer. When they’re talking about the game, I actually know what they are talking about. I’ve started getting involved in some of their other interests and Mom is still a pretty cool person to hang out with!
I can now see what the big deal is with the game of Minecraft. I’m still not a huge fan of the fighting games or the ones where you have to save the world from the next Zombie Apocalypse, but Minecraft is okay with me. It also seems to be catching on around the world as an educational tool. It will be interesting to see what happens with the game in years to come.
We Love to Play Minecraft
I still don’t know everything there is to know about Minecraft and my kids still occasionally take the controller from me in order to “help Mom along”, but they humor me. It’s given me a chance to be a part of their world and to participate in something that they love to do. As long as the kids want to continue to play Minecraft, the answer from mom is always going to be Yes!
Do your kids play Minecraft? Do you play with them?
What are some of the things that you do to spend time together?