Minecraft: 2021 Parent Guide

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Minecraft: 2021 Parent Guide

March 3, 2021
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Table of Contents

Minecraft is a wildly popular game that fosters creativity and problem-solving. Players dig (or mine) and build (or craft) different kinds of 3D blocks across varying environments and terrains. It’s often described as a virtual version of LEGOS, but with various modes and chat features, there are some dangers parents should be aware of.

In this SmartSocial.com app guide, parents and educators will learn the basics of Minecraft. Readers will also discover the educational benefits, dangers, and ways to make the game safer for younger players.

What is Minecraft?

  • This is a game where players create a world, explore it, and build along the way
  • It is a "sandbox" style game, meaning it has a great deal of creativity with little to no objectives
  • It's designed for solo play or group play (friends or strangers)
  • There are several different game modes and levels of difficulty
Explore dehydrated deserts, bubbling bayous, frozen tundra, and more in an infinite world that you help create! Play with your friends and embark on adventures complete with beautiful landscapes and sudden peril. Minecraft Marketing

Why is Minecraft so popular with kids?

PC Mag headline: 'Minecraft' Tops 131 Million Monthly Active Users
PC Mag
  • Players can create anything from towns to roller coasters to castles
  • There are no rules to the game and the possibilities are endless
  • Many kids enjoy playing with their friends, helping each other build new things, and talking about it even when they’re not playing
  • Minecraft is now a huge part of popular culture and Minecraft toys and apparel are everywhere

Where is Minecraft available?

Different game modes in Minecraft

Minecraft Pocket Edition Screenshot of Game
  1. Creative- This is the safest mode for younger players and is focused on creative play. Players have access to infinite resources, can fly, and won’t be attacked
  2. Survival- In this mode, players must explore the world and mine resources to feed, house, and protect themselves from others
  3. Hardcore- This is like Survival Mode, but players only have one chance to survive. The game ends when the player dies and the entire world they created is permanently deleted
  4. Adventure- This mode lets players explore a map without the ability to destroy blocks without using appropriate tools (like in Creative mode)

Minecraft in the news

Bloomberg Businessweek headline: Why Minecraft and Roblox are on the fall syllabus
They’re computer games, but they’re also serious learning tools, teachers and education theorists say… In Minecraft, players construct and explore virtual worlds out of blocks that look something like Legos. Within those environments, they can engage in more than 600 learning sessions, with activities such as visiting a low-def version of Florence, Italy; hanging out in a ‘decimal/fraction garden’; or honing language skills while exploring a shipwreck. Bloomberg Business
The New York Times headline: Video games and online chats are 'hunting grounds' for sexual predators
Sexual predators and other bad actors have found an easy access point into the lives of young people: They are meeting them online through multiplayer video games and chat apps, making virtual connections right in their victims’ homes. The criminals strike up a conversation and gradually build trust. Often they pose as children, confiding in their victims with false stories of hardship or self-loathing. Their goal, typically, is to dupe children into sharing sexually explicit photos and videos of themselves — which they use as blackmail for more imagery, much of it increasingly graphic and violent. New York Times
Yahoo! News headline: A Minecraft YouTube star has been accused of 'grooming' and sexting with 2 underage fans
YouTuber Carson King, better known in the gaming community as CallMeCarson, is facing accusations that he sexted and traded nude photos with two minors when he was an adult. He's also being accused of ‘grooming’ one of the underaged fans. King is currently 21 and has over 5 million YouTube subscribers across his channels. Yahoo! News

What should parents know?

Minecraft Marketplace screenshot
  • There are many ways to customize gameplay with in-app purchases (available for $3+)
  • Many players look on the internet for 3rd party skins, maps, and mods, but those downloads could contain malware
  • It has chat for online multiplayer games unless it’s disabled in settings
  • It can be easy for players to spend a lot of time playing. Minecraft is an open-ended game with limitless possibilities
  • Minecraft does not show blood, but there is cartoonish violence. Depending on the mode, this could include hitting or killing animals or other players (in multiplayer mode)
  • Watching other people play Minecraft on YouTube is big business. YouTube report’s 201 billion views of Minecraft videos in 2020
  • Players can also live stream their games or watch other people play Minecraft on 3rd party apps, like Twitch
  • Parents should know that videos and live streams of other players could contain explicit language and adult ideas

Education benefits of Minecraft

  • Gameplay involves coding and problem-solving skills
  • Players must use memorization skills
  • Children can express creativity and build a team with their friends
  • Reading and writing is part of the game since players need to have a good understanding of the written guides that appear on-screen and must read and write messages back and forth if they’re playing on a team with friends
  • Players learn how to manage resources by calculating how much things cost and also the time required for certain tasks

Why should parents care?

Watch or listen to our Roblox and Minecraft Parent Safety discussion with Josh and Beth.

What can parents do?

Creative Mode on Minecraft
You can change the Mode and Difficultly in the Settings on Minecraft Pocket Edition
  • Play the game with your students to learn about the game first-hand and spend time doing what your kids want to do  (Here are some gameplay tutorials and Minecraft lingo here)
  • The safest way for younger kids to play Minecraft is in single-player Creative mode in the Peaceful setting. They will be playing by themselves, without joining a server, and without violence or communication with other players. If you plan to let your child play online multiplayer games, research safe server options
  • Talk with your children about cyberbullying and grooming and let them know they can always come to you for help
  • Explain the dangers of giving out personal information to a stranger
  • Discuss spending limits for in-app purchases in the Minecraft Marketplace and through 3rd party sellers
  • Consider setting time limits for gameplay and encourage a healthy balance of online/offline activities
  • The course is included in your VIP (Very Important Parent) membership. New to the SmartSocial.com VIP program?  Become a VIP today!

Conclusion

With constant updates, Minecraft continues to reign as one of the most popular online games of all time. Young and novice players can safely experience Minecraft by playing the solo version, but eventually, many kids will ask to play with friends or on online servers. Since multiplayer gaming comes with risks, it’s important for parents to stay involved and remain aware of what their kids are doing online.

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