Minecraft: Guide for Parents & Educators

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August 2, 2022

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Minecraft is often described as a virtual version of LEGO, but with various modes, chat features, and addiction concerns there are some dangers parents and educators should be aware of. Learn how Minecraft works and how to make it safer for students in this app guide.

This lesson will help parents and educators learn:

  • Why Minecraft is so popular with students
  • Why parents should care about Minecraft
  • Tips to keep student safe while using Minecraft

Unlock this video to learn what you can do to keep kids safe on Minecraft

More resources about video games: Pros and Cons of Video Games for Families preview

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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.

Minecraft overview video for parents

What you'll learn in this video lesson

(Click on the three lines or a blue dot in video progress bar to skip to a chapter)

1. Profile & manage account

2. Ways to play Minecraft

3. Multiplayer settings

4. Spending (real) money

Minecraft safety settings video

What you'll learn in this video lesson

(Click on the three lines or a blue dot in video progress bar to skip to a chapter)

  1. Profile & manage account
  2. Ways to play Minecraft
  3. Multiplayer settings
  4. Spending (real) money

What is Minecraft?

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
  • Players explore randomly generated worlds and build amazing things within the Minecraft world
  • 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 online multiplayer (friends or strangers)
  • There are several different game modes and levels of difficulty

What is Minecraft rated?

Minecraft ESRB rating
  • Four versions of the game exist and have different costs

Minecraft offers different playable game modes

  1. Creative Mode - This is the safest mode for younger players and is focused on creative play. Players have access to unlimited resources, can fly, and won’t be attacked
  2. Survival Mode - In this mode, players must explore the world and mine resources to feed, house, and protect themselves from other creatures
  3. Hardcore Mode - 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 Mode - This mode lets players explore a map but can't destroy blocks without using the appropriate tools (like in Creative mode)
  5. Spectator Mode - This mode lets players observe worlds without interacting

Different versions of Minecraft

 Java and bedrock editions

  • Java Edition is available on a personal computer (Windows or Mac)
  • Bedrock Edition (Minecraft) is played on Windows, Mac or on a console (like Nintendo Switch or Xbox)
  • New Minecraft purchases for Windows PC now include both the Java edition and the Bedrock edition for one price

Minecraft in the news

How minecraft is teaching kids o face the threat of climate change Meet the geography teachers and developers using Minecraft to teach climate science.
From smaller-scale issues like civil planning through to natural disaster preparation, these lessons enable students to think critically and use visual representations in Minecraft to better understand the reality of climate change. - CNET
Game Over: sex traffickers using online gaming to get to your children
Games are just one type of tool traffickers use to gain the trust of their victim...That’s a key thing they’re not using the game itself to exploit the victim. What they are trying to do, through the game, is gain the trust of the victim. - FOX 29

Why is Minecraft so popular with kids?

  • Minecraft has more than 141 million active monthly players (Source: Statista)
  • 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

What other parents say about  Minecraft

This game is a wonderful single-player, the only difficulty is when the child decided to go online. The child will be exposed to inappropriate phrases, pictures, sounds and gametags. Some online users circumvent the name restrictions and/or dress up as bannable costumes. Some online gaming servers involve drawing an object, and instead of drawing the object some users draw offensive objects that the child shouldn't be looking at. - Parent, Common Sense Media
You may think it's unrealistic, but what really matters is if it's fun, and my kids love it! They wanted me to try it out, and honestly, I liked it too! - Parent, Common Sense Media

What should parents know?

  • There are many ways to customize gameplay with in-app purchases
  • Many players look on the internet for 3rd party skins, maps, and mods and those downloads could contain malware
  • Minecraft has chat for online multiplayer games unless it’s disabled in settings
  • Since Minecraft is an open-ended game with limitless possibilities, it can be easy for players to lose track of time and spend a lot of time playing
  • Minecraft does not show blood, but there is cartoonish violence including hitting or killing animals or other players in multiplayer mode
  • Watching other people play Minecraft on YouTube is big business.  Videos related to the game have been viewed more than 1 trillion times (Source: YouTube)
  • Players can also live stream their games or watch other people play Minecraft on 3rd party apps, like Twitch or Discord
  • 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

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
  • Set up parental controls using a Microsoft account through Microsoft Family or through the individual gaming consoles (Nintendo Switch, Playstation)
  • After the Microsoft account is set up, add your family members and then set up an Xbox Live account for your student
  • The Xbox Live account will allow parental controls as long as your student is logging in with their Microsoft account and will work across most gaming platforms
  • ~Minecraft multi-player servers
  • ~Cross-platform play
  • ~Sharing and streaming permissions
  • ~Adding friends
  • ~Communication methods
  • ~In-game purchases
  • 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 and/or offline activities
  • Learn more about the pros and cons of video games in our SmartSocial resource: Pros and Cons of Video Games for Families


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

Additional Resources

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

VIP course preview: "Pros and Cons of Video Games for Families"

Click here to watch the entire course for VIP members

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