5 questions to ask your kids before introducing Minecraft

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minecraft screenshot

Minecraft has become a massively popular game not only with kids, but with parents and educators who applaud its capacity to support creativity and real learning.

Yet as much as Minecraft appeals to us as geek parents, we’ve held off on introducing it into our own home. We have a son who already finds it a struggle to resist the lure of screens or to turn off the computer when game time wraps up, and Minecraft seems to make that a challenge even for kids who don’t have a history of screen compulsion. Our son’s few experiences with Minecraft in camp or classroom settings — and the meltdowns that took place whenever Minecraft time came to an end — has made us very leery of providing ready access.

But the older our kids get, the more we’ve felt like we’re depriving them by keeping them away from a game that is now a foundational element of kid culture. In their eagerness to tune into the game that all their friends are talking about, our kids have taken to watching Minecraft walk-throughs and “let’s play” videos whenever they can get access to YouTube (which we block most of the time, for exactly this reason.)  It seems ridiculous to let our kids spend a couple of hours each weekend passively watching other people play a video game that actually could be a creative and learning outlet, why wouldn’t we let them if we even play with games, if we’d just give them access to their own Minecraft accounts, take a peek here.

That’s why we recently told our kids that we’re ready to think about introducing Minecraft at home. First, however, they had to think carefully about how it would work in our family. Here’s the email I sent to each of them, asking for their written input into a family Minecraft policy:

Before we can consider introducing Minecraft in our home, you each need to answer the following questions in writing so we can develop a family agreement on Minecraft. You will not make the rules of this agreement, but your answers will help us make those rules.

  1. What do you hope to get from the experience of playing Minecraft?
  2. What do you think is an appropriate amount of time to play Minecraft each day/week?
  3.  What strategies will you use to keep yourself from getting addicted — in other words, to keep from playing Minecraft more than that amount of time we agree is appropriate, and to turn off Minecraft when your time is up?
  4. How will you use Minecraft for learning and education?
  5. What do you think we should do if you break our family agreement on Minecraft rules?

In the next post, I’ll let you know where we landed.

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