This is an interesting phenomena and one which I have heard about from many parents I work with in my clinical practice. Minecraft “making” kids cranky is primarily the result of the intensity of focus that it and other video games encourage. Kids may continue to be engaged in what they were thinking about, get upset about their performance or decisions they’ve made, and find that the next activities pale in comparison. Some kids may even be overly competitive and concerned about winning and losing video games just as they might be with traditional sports.
For a very small minority of children there is also a concern that this kind of irritability can be a sign of video game addiction. However, other signs of video game addiction such as intense preoccupation, withdrawal symptoms, the need to spend increasing amounts of time playing games, unsuccessful attempts to control participation, and an extreme and clear loss of interest in previous hobbies and activities should be evidenced before concerns are raised in this regard.
Here are a few strategies that can help in a “Minecraft makes my kid cranky” situation:
- Help your child decompress. Ask him to talk to you right after he is done playing so that he can process his thoughts.
- Discuss your concerns before he starts to play in an attempt to reframe his Minecraft play as something that is challenging and fun rather than disappointing when he does not accomplish everything he would like.
- Try to make gameplay less competitive. Help him see what he has accomplished or built during his latest Minecraft session rather than what he has lost.
- Establish a fun and easy transition activity that routinely follows his Minecraft play.
- Guard against issues like hunger and exhaustion when he is playing by having him snack either during or right after the activity and stop at a reasonable hour.
- Have a healthy play activity to which he will transition after play. This could include some type of physical exercise or a social opportunity.
- If your child is taking medication for ADHD be sure he does not play at the time his medication wears off, as this could exacerbate any signs of irritability and transition difficulties that would be observed.
I have written articles about other strategies to use with kids with ADHD when they are playing video games that will help reduce irritability and assist them in learning more from their play.
Featured image: Flickr user Download.net.pl