Why do kids with ADHD love to watch Minecraft videos? My daughter watches them all the time, but I can’t imagine anything more boring.
Kids aren’t the only ones who sit in front of screens to watch other people play games. You might ask the people watching a game at a sports lounge what’s so great about spectator sports like football and baseball. Kids like watching Minecraft videos for the same reason that an aspiring cook might enjoy watching a creative, skillful chef on a cooking show: sometimes it’s just fun to watch something you enjoy performed at a very high level. Most kids will say that they like to watch videos of others playing games like Minecraft (also called Let’s Play videos or letsplays) so they can learn how to build something or just get better at the game. Many others are drawn to a charismatic YouTube personality who is funny and able to connect with their audience.
There is also a social aspect to watching Let’s Play videos that is similar to sitting in the same room watching someone else play. Some kids watch them because they don’t have the game but hear all of their friends talking about it, thus it gives them some semblance of inclusion. Many watch these videos on YouTube, and live-game streaming on Twitch is becoming increasingly popular — both of which are social platforms.
If your child loves to watch Minecraft videos, here are a few suggestions:
- Screen for language and content. You might want to use YouTube Kids to sort through videos. Even some of the Minecraft videos directed at kids can use salty, inappropriate language. We gathered up a few kid-friendly let’s play Minecraft channels in this post, and we’ve even begun producing our own.
- Treat videos as you do television. For kids under the age of 8 I’d suggest no more than 45 minutes a day of watching, and preferably less. For older preteens and teens no more than 1 hour a day.
- Get them to do alternative Minecraft activities. Use LEGOs, art materials, or playing the game itself as a way to put their video-based learning into practice.
- Talk about what they watch. Help them connect what they are learning from the videos to improvements they can make in problem solving and other in-game skills. Our Minecraft playbook can help.
- Let them make their own videos. Let them be the YouTube stars. Making videos not only requires them to use executive-functioning skills such as organization, self-awareness, and time management, but also necessitates that they develop some technical real-world skills as well.
For more information about Minecraft, including let’s plays and tips on thinking skills and alternative activities, check out our blog archive. We’ve even started making our own Let’s Play videos about Minecraft and many other popular video games. Take a look at our Learning Works for Kids Let’s Play channel on YouTube.
Featured image: Flickr user Wesley Fryer