Playing Minecraft with your kids

Minecraft is an excellent computer game for kids, even at he age of 6-7 the game provides a great and child friendly gaming experience. I’m no expert at kids psychology, but in my experience Minecraft is great for creativity and has some great educational features. Nowadays physics teachers use Minecraft for education purposes and give their students assignments which requires playing the game.

How I ended up playing Minecraft with my son

I want to share some of my personal experiences playing the Minecraft video game with my kid, he’s only 5 but we’re having a blast. It certainly has created a mutual interest for us, something we share and talk about. Heck, I even have to tell Minecraft bedtime stories about the adventures of Steve (Minecraft’s main character) and I’m currently creating a Minecraft themed kids bedroom.

Before my son was born in 2012, I played Minecraft as often as I could. When my wife announced her pregnancy, I knew I should cut back on gaming.  At first this was absolutely true, having a baby will take up all of your time. As my son grew older I got better at managing my time and decided to pick up gaming again. I tried to keep it from my kid but he caught me playing Minecraft and was very curious about the game.

Kids love animals, I may have tricked him

I decided to build some farms with sheep, pigs, cows etc and he loved it. It wasn’t long before he figured out how to do the basics and he fell in love with the game. My wife asked me not to kill the animals in front of him (which I didn’t of course) but as soon as he found out about swords I heard chickens being massacred. I made it very clear that you shouldn’t treat animals this way in real life. I know he knows, he loves animals and treats them well in real life.

Fortunately he also started building stuff.  Like a real Minecraft noob his first home was a hole in the ground (I remember my first survival night, can’t blame him). He then started to advance and behold a cobblestone house with a dirt rooftop!

He’s a bit scared of Endermen and the Ender Dragon so I’ll make sure I keep on eye on him while he’s playing with mobs. I usually set it to friendly mode but he’s obsessed with creepers and zombies.

I love the multiplayer aspect of Minecraft (PC) and the Wii U isn’t really the same as playing Minecraft on a dedicated server, so when I get a chance I probably buy two Nintendo Switches so we can play together at the same time.

I’m not giving him access to my PC just yet and it would be harder for me to see what he’s up to. Young kids probably unintentionally grief (vandalize) others creations which could get your IP banned. Just like knocking over someones sandcastle usually doesn’t end well in real life. Not to mention the language that is in the chat although most server moderate the chat.

Pay attention parent, here are the Minecraft basics

If you don’t know anything about the game, this video is a good start. I guess it is a little intimidating at first when you’re new to the game. Minecraft is a sandbox game, meaning you can do whatever you like within the limits of the world. There is no leveling, just some achievements, but this doesn’t impact your character at all.

Of course you can just start playing from scratch with your kid and learn along the way (that’s what I did). I do advise you to watch the video so you have a basic understanding of Minecraft.

How to start responsibly

So if you think your kid is old enough to play Minecraft, single player survival would be a great start. Use a cool seed, move into a villager town and claim a house. Once you got your basic stuff, create some fences and try to lure some animals and start farming. Minecraft animals are just adorable and my kid loves to put some food in his hand and let the animals follow him. You also want to consider setting the game to friendly mode(depending on their age) in the settings, you can always turn on mobs later. I once forgot to set it to friendly and heard my kid crying because he was scared of the Enderman.

It’s like Lego. When I was a kid my dad used to build all kinds of Lego stuff when I was asleep. I remember how exited I was when I saw his creations the next day. So here I am, building castles when my kids asleep just to see the surprise on his face when he starts up the game. I must admit I turn on creative mode for this, meaning you have every block available in your inventory. I gave up on tree farms, mob farming and endless mining to gather resources, I also have a job.

Minecraft is a very creative and educational game and I really recommend playing the game with your kids when they’re old enough. Don’t overdo it though, kids need to play outside so keep the hours at a minimum. You don’t want to be that parent who can only calm your children by letting them play on iPads and handheld consoles. I’m not an expert but I can imagine this doesn’t help developing social skills.

Beware of the following

If you’re kid is older make sure he/she only watches kid friendly Youtubers. There are some tubers out there that prey on kids to try and earn cash. Other kids can be mean, here’s an example of an aware parent tracking down a Minecraft bully. Online game play, specifically PC can be hostile if you’re kid is in the wrong server. I wouldn’t expose very young kids to this until they reach an appropriate age (you’ll be the judge).

There aren’t really any parental controls but you can turn off mobs (monsters) and prevent them from spawning. If you play on you local network like I do, you have nothing to worry about.

Fun things to do with your kid in Minecraft

Tame a horse

Get a horse saddle and tame a horse. Not all horses are suitable for riding but when you find one it’s great fun for both of you.

Ride a pig

You’ll need a saddle, a carrot on a stick and a pig. How you do this depends on the platform you use.

Build a portal and go the the Nether

Make sure to turn on friendly mode if your kid is very young. The Nether is a bit scary, hostile mobs (monsters) are more aggressive over there.

Feeding the animals

Get carrots, grass seeds and wheat to start feeding the animals. Animals will follow you around (which is hilarious) and when feeded they spawn baby cows, baby pigs, chickens etc. The baby animals are just adorable.

Play with fireworks!

There is all kinds of different fireworks available in the game and it’s quite beautiful.

Just enjoy the scenery

Exploring and watching the sunset is a relaxing experience.

Summary

Minecraft is a great game for kids, even as young as the age of 6. In my opinion it’s great for their creativity and has educational elements like learning how to program. Make sure you limit game time, try to play together and enjoy the experience. There is tons of fun things to do from just exploring a world to building a castle.

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