Many of you know that I view Minecraft as a great educational tool for children. We have been using it with our kids for both fun and educational purposes for almost 5 years now. But I read a blog post yesterday that really upset me. This parent wanted to warn parents about the dangers of Minecraft. Her daughter downloaded a supposed Sex mod, and was upset about it.
Mods can be a danger with Minecraft. Yet this parent went on to basically blame the game and not look at what the true danger was. So I decided that I needed to write a post explaining to parents how to protect their children while playing Minecraft. It's very much the same thing for any type of internet usage....stay involved.
First of all, it does not require an extensive knowledge of Minecraft to keep an eye on what your child is doing. Here are a few tips......
Do not allow them to play on Open Servers. If your child is playing in online servers, make sure that it is a whitelisted server. This simply means that not just anyone can join the server. The server we run at Homeschool with Minecraft is whitelisted. Only parents who have registered their children with me can join. We have a list of all user IDs, so if there are any problems, I can easily contact the parents and have the issue taken care of. I can also ban a student from connecting again for severe infractions against the rules.
Mods are extras that can be downloaded from various sites. These mods allow players to experience a wide variety of different sites. They will change the game to look more like their favorite movie or action hero. Downloading of mods can be done by anyone. The creating of mods can be done by anyone. The key word there...... anyone!!! People without your same morals will be the ones creating these. So just be aware of what your child is downloading.
We have a strict rule in our house about downloading mods. Unless a parent has pre-approved a mod, it is not to be downloaded. Mods are an area that parents really need to look at and be aware of. The nice thing about mods though, even if your child is on a server and playing with a student who has mods, your child will not be seeing the same things. Your child cannot see a mod if they do not have the same mod downloaded! Even when I am on with students talking with them, they can tell me about their mods, but I cannot see them. Mods are an area of concern for parents.....definitely take special precautions to know what your children are downloading.
Mods though are not available for all forms of play. Usually on the PC version and you can buy extra skins for the video game systems. But to say that this was downloaded to a tablet or phone version of the game is not available. Also I did do some searching and could not even find the "Sex mode" that this blog post was referring to.
The last major area is Youtube. We use Youtube all the time in our homeschool. It is wonderful for how-to videos and educational videos. But our kids....and many others.... are obsessed with watching Minecraft videos on Youtube. Trust me....we know. We have taken away the privilege to watch these videos unless they are in the same room that we are. I have walked in and they are watching these videos on their tablets and was shocked at what is out there. These are adults taking an innocent game and turning it into trash with their loose morals and vulgarity. Please.....watch your children with these. I cannot emphasize how important it is to watch this avenue of Minecraft!!
There are options out there to help you, help your children avoid dangers......
You can easily start your own server, most of the time at a small charge. You can easily add just certain people to play with your children. I warn you though, it does take a little bit of work and tech savviness to do that.
But there are two servers that I know of that do watch students and have whitelists. One is our server at Homeschool with Minecraft. You do not need to be taking classes to play on our server. We do watch the server and record chat. The other server is Skrafty. They also do not require you to take classes in order to play on their server. Fights will happen among children on any server, this is part of life. But at least they are not being exposed to many other dangers that can occur.
Most importantly, do not be afraid of Minecraft. As with anything, you do need to have your guard up.
- Teach your children about internet safety.
- Do not allow them to share private information.
- Do not use their real names in their user IDs.
- Tell them if someone asks....just say no!
Video games and electronic gaming really do receive a bad rap. Everyone wants to blame the games for the issues going on around them. But these avenues of entertainment are only a slice of what is going on in your kids minds and lives. Make sure you know what else is going on and what they are feeling. Parenting is the hardest job you will ever have, but it's also the most rewarding. Don't be afraid to step up and protect your child by saying No (Even when it doesn't make you popular with them)!
If you have any questions regarding Minecraft or joining server....please email me. Minecraft can be very overwhelming and we are happy to help. firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com