Minecraft is an online sandbox style game that allows people to build their own worlds. It is kind of like digital LEGO. The game was released in 2009 and then bought by Microsoft in 2014. Minnecraft is incredibly popular among adults and children. According to Playercounter, there are regularly around 3 million people playing Minecraft at any given time.
As a parent, you have probably heard about Minecraft and wondered if Minecraft is good for kids to play. On one hand, you might have read about the benefits of playing Minecraft for kids. On the other, you might be wondering if it is ok for kids to potentially interact with strangers on the Internet.
We get it! In this modern world, there are a lot of questions that come up when you consider allowing your child to play an online game like Minecraft. That’s why we wanted to provide you with answers to frequently asked questions about the safety and appropriateness of Minecraft for kids.
- Is Minecraft OK for kids?
- How old do you have to be to play Minecraft?
- Is Minecraft appropriate for a 5 year old? Is Minecraft OK for a 7 year old?
- Is Minecraft safe for kids?
- Are there Minecraft parental controls?
Is Minecraft OK for kids?
While every child is different of course, generally Minecraft is OK for kids to play. The game teaches children to harness their imagination, solve problems, practice engineering and math skills, plan, focus, collaborate, and more. Through Minecraft, children get the opportunity to build their own worlds, work together with their friends, and even learn some useful coding, architecture, and geometry lessons.
How old do you have to be to play Minecraft?
The experts at Common Sense Media recommend Minecraft for children aged 8 and up. They picked this age for a few reasons. The first is that Minecraft is a somewhat complex game and does require creative thinking, processing, and digital skills. The second reason is that there is some potential for mild violence if your child plays within an online community. They can witness and be part of “battles” within the game. Thirdly, if your child is playing online with a community of people they do not know, they can be exposed to bullying and other adult speech. And like all online communities, there is a chance your child can encounter a predator.
Is Minecraft appropriate for a 5 year old? Is Minecraft OK for a 7 year old?
If you have a child aged 5-7 who you think would be interested in Minecraft, you can allow them to play the game in single player creative mode on the peaceful setting. This means that your child would just be able to interact by themselves in their own world. They can build and mine and do whatever they would like without you having to worry about an online community.
There are also games that are similar to Minecraft for younger children. These games don’t have an online community, which makes them safer. In addition, they are less complex, which means your child can build up the skills that they need to eventually transition to more difficult games like Minecraft when they are a bit older.
Minecraft alternatives for younger children
- Pango Build Safari - Good for children aged 4+
- Blox 3D Junior - Good for children aged 5+
- The Robot Factory - Good for children aged 6+
- Toca Builders - Good for children aged 6+
- Pocket Build - Good for children aged 7+
Is Minecraft safe for kids?
Like all online communities on the Internet, Minecraft can be safe for kids if you pay attention and stay aware. If you are going to let your child play Minecraft in multiplayer mode in an open community, then make sure you keep a transparent and honest dialogue with them about what they are seeing and hearing online. Establishing effective communication strategies help you stay abreast with your child and what they might be experiencing.
However, if you do not feel comfortable letting them play in an open community online, there are some ways that they can still play in multiplayer mode more safely.
- Have them join a realm. Realms are personal Minecraft servers that can only be accessed by invitation. You can coordinate with your child’s friends’ parents to create a realm just for them so that they can play with one another in a more safe environment. Up to 10 people can join a single realm.
- Find a server with a good moderator. Servers are only as safe as their moderator. PC Gamer vetted servers on Minecraft so you can see which ones are safest and best for your child.
- Join a server just for kids. Even better than finding a server with a good moderator is to find a server that is solely for children. That way, the conversations and interactions are more likely to be safe and age appropriate. Check out this list of Minecraft servers for kids to find the right one for your child.
Are there Minecraft parental controls?
There are some parental controls on Minecraft via XBox. Parents can disable the chat and multiplayer features for child accounts in their account settings. There is also a social interactions screen, from which players can view everyone who is on the server, hide chat messages, and block users. Parents can use this screen to limit interactions with other players for their children.
As a parent, you might be nervous about letting your child play Minecraft. However, we hope these answers will help you see that you can make the Minecraft servers a safe place for your child so that they can experience the benefits that come with playing the game. If you are looking for some additional Minecraft activities, like coding and creating with Minecraft in a classroom setting, check out what our wonderful Sawyer educators are offering!