How to Know if Your Children are Playing Too Much Minecraft

Kids love Minecraft. It has been the most popular video game for younger children and preteens for many years, and its popularity shows no signs of abating. From our perspective at LearningWorks for Kids, Minecraft is one of the best games for practicing executive-functioning skills and is one of the most compelling games that kids play. Its sandbox nature makes gameplay into an endless exercise of exploration and creativity. But even good things can become problematic if children overdo them. We have developed a set of Minecraft personas to help you better understand your children’s Minecraft play and to help you determine if your children are spending too much time playing the game.

Needs to play more

Some children might actually benefit from playing more Minecraft rather than less. Minecraft is a great opportunity for practicing executive-functioning skills such as planning, organization, time management, and flexibility. It is also a chance for children to socialize and develop relationships, as it is a common topic of discussion, particularly among children who are in elementary school.  

Recognizing the many ways children learn through video-game play is important.  Digital play in appropriate “dosages” (not spending too much time in front of a screen) is cognitively challenging and a great opportunity for kids to learn. The crucial factor is to have a healthy “Play Diet” (described on the LearningWorks for Kids website) in which children engage in a variety of other forms of play, as well. Learn some other ways that you can use Minecraft to improve your child’s executive-functioning and academic skills and how to set effective limits on Minecraft play.

Casual but enthusiastic players

These children appear to enjoy playing Minecraft but do not overdo it. If they begin to play more, get them engaged in talking about the game. By its very nature as a sandbox game, Minecraft is never-ending, and players set their own goals rather than those being set within the game. Because Minecraft is such a popular game, it lends itself to discussions at school and is often the focus of play dates. This is not a concern as long as children also maintain other interests beyond Minecraft.  

Enthusiastic players may be able to learn more than construction and world-building skills in their Minecraft play. Minecraft offers a variety of opportunities to improve executive-functioning skills such as planning, organization, time management, and flexibility. Learn other ways you can use Minecraft to improve your child’s executive-functioning and academic skills and how to set effective limits on Minecraft play.

Passionate players

Your children enjoy Minecraft, engage with it on a regular basis, and sometimes overdo it. While your children do not seem to be displaying all of the problematic behaviors of children who become overly involved with Minecraft, there is some risk that they could become overly focused on the game.

At the same time, their interest in Minecraft appears to be leading to the development of some new skills and interests that can be very powerful tools for future education and employment. Playing Minecraft also allows them to practice executive-functioning skills such as planning, organization, time management, and flexibility.

It is difficult to set limits on playing Minecraft due to its sandbox nature and there being no beginning or end to gameplay. Learn some other ways that you can use Minecraft to improve your child’s executive-functioning and academic skills and how to set effective limits on Minecraft play.

Minecraft maniacs

Your children may be displaying signs of video-game abuse or overuse. They appear to be preoccupied with playing Minecraft to the extent that it has become an overwhelmingly large part of their lives. Excessive use can result in psychosocial issues, academic difficulties, and problems in interpersonal relationships.

If your children are displaying a preoccupation with Minecraft and cannot control their impulse to play Minecraft, you are strongly encouraged to contact a psychologist, therapist, or pediatrician who has some expertise in this area in order to get some help for your children. Be watchful for withdrawal symptoms in which they become overly distressed for extended periods when it is taken away.

Setting limits can be very difficult for children who show signs of gaming addictions, and parents may need to work with a therapist in order to be able to do this effectively. It is imperative that these children achieve a better balance in their life activities. Parents need to help them develop non-screen-based activities that can be fulfilling.  

Some kids might nearly meet our criteria for a Minecraft maniac, in that they are head over heels about Minecraft but still do well in other areas of their lives. Children who are overly interested in Minecraft but continue to do well in school, have many friends, interact with the family, and are engaged in other activities such as physical exercise and reading may not be as much of a concern.
Learn some other ways that you can use Minecraft to improve your child’s executive-functioning and academic skills and how to set effective limits on Minecraft play.

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