I’ve decided to write a series of posts for parents of children, specifically 6-12 about learning how to manage Minecraft. It may work on other ages, but typically 6-12 year olds are wired differently to teens and adolescents.
First of all, you and I are not dealing with dark-magic in Minecraft code. It, like other games, has no addictive qualities in the way the media like to suggest games are addictive like smoking and so on. In a small number of kids, circumstances and context conspire such that some kids are more likely to form habitual habits than others. It’s also fair to say that adults are generally told by the media that spent in “online worlds” are at expense of the “real world” – and ironically they read this online these days due to the increasing domestication of the Internet onto phones, tablets and so on.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and for some, Minecraft is addictive. I don’t happen to agree with that at all due to the lack of evidence to support such a generalisation. Like all ‘new media’ hyper connected games challenge parents – because parenting skills around these things something most never thought they’d need to develop when she arrived in the world. One day she’s playing with lego and being cute, the next, she’s build an entire universe of her own and being sassy. Its completely human to feel a sense of frustration and even abandonment. There’s no inner demon worse for a parent than abandonment – but this is a feeling, not a reality.
The first step is to understand that you are about to become an expert negotiator. This post is pre-that idea. It’s about spending some time looking at her life and trying to imagine how the world see’s her, and her it. It’s hard, as kids are so imaginative at this age and we, boring old adults, tend forget the power of imagination as we get older. For most of us, being imaginative in our daily lives has been drummed out of us. Get on with your job, stop day dreaming … that’s not your role … blah blah.
To do this you need to accept that your child grows ever more curious as the world begins to open up. Right now, a 7 year old has massive access to detailed information online because of the domestication of the Internet into devices adults own.
I know my own 7 year old will watch dozens of Minecraft tutorials on YouTube every
day week. Not only that, he’s learned how to be bottom line orientated, and how to spot ‘good’ ones from ‘bad’ ones. He’s also made his own and left comments on others. I say this in order to explain, that unlike myself at aged 7, he’s somewhat of a polymath.
Your Minecraft playing child lives in a world which (to them) doesn’t stack up. They are, at different times of the day treated in very different ways. Imagine if you were at work and your boss speaks to you slowly and repeats simple instructions because he thinks your too stupid to understand. Imagine then someone walks in the room and the boss talks about you as if you were not in the room. Then you leave and go back to your desk to work on this idea called Instagram that you and your friend had. That is how kids are treated daily by adults.
- Children as performers
- Children as subjects
- Children as audiences (e.g. in schools)
- Children as makers
Sit down and work out what your child does under these headings. In Minecraft children act as performers and makers – not subjects or audiences.
This is a simple observation, but one that has a huge impact on them and in turn your own behaviour (often being frustrated and angry). This is the first generation to have such power on tap – so it’s futile saying “go outside and play”, when in their mind, this is play – it’s play they find really useful in figuring out the world.
In the past only the ‘gifted’ kids were top performers (sports, music, math) and only the most talented made objects, engineering and art and so on. We called these kids ‘gifted and talented’ yet by all current measures of that in “schoo”l – games are not something used to ‘identify’ it.
I can’t see anything wrong with wanting my kids to know that they are NOT the subject or audience as I was at the same age, and well into adulthood. If that’s something you want too, then start with looking at the routine of your kids and consider how life feels.