This week we have a post from SA mom blogger Lucia who has some opinions on the game Minecraft.
Minecraft is a sandbox video game which enables players to build constructions out of textured cubes in a 3D generated world.
I’ve read and heard various opinions about the video game, Minecraft, and it’s varied from good to bad to downright horrendous. There’s been instances of sexual abuse within the gaming platform as well as a report of a kid going into a comatose state from playing Minecraft. It’s scary stuff. The comatose kid had to go for therapy to get him off his addiction to this game, and the sexually abused kid had to also receive some kind of treatment as the gaming reality seemed so real and she physically felt abused. Some truly horrible stuff yes, and as a mother of four daughters it scares me to even contemplate either one of those possibilities. But can I voice my opinion…my humble no doctorate or phd or fancy degree, just staying at home 24/7 with my kids opinion? Because boy I really hate having to listen to everyone else bashing something that I truly find useful and helpful. Firstly, my kids are 5, soon to be 7 and 9, and the youngest too young to care. They NEVER play any online games, so the risk for sexual predators on these gaming platforms are null. And they NEVER play alone. They are not allowed to play games by themselves, because yes, inherently video games are anti-social. So, if they want to play, one of their sisters must want to play with them. And most of the time they’re only allowed to play an hour at a time, take a break, switch partners, play for another hour and then go play outside, draw, colour or do something other than stare at a screen. I’ve watched my kids play more often than not as well and if they do play unsupervised it’s while I’m around in the house busy with well, all those fun SAHM stuff we do….(yeah that’s right, we actually have other stuff to do besides entertain our kids) If they argue or fight over anything within the game it gets turned off. If they react negatively after being told it’s time to turn it off, they get banned from playing it for a couple of days. If they nag to play, they don’t get to play at all. They’re mostly, excluding weekends and some holidays, only allowed to play after 3pm. And they have to make turns. It might sound like a lot of co-ordinating, but they’re pretty good at keeping each other in check and balancing their times. We also give them tasks to do within Minecraft. Me and my husband plays as well, as I’m a firm believer that you should know what you’re allowing into your kids lives and minds. We started a “Dream house” world, where everyone had to design and build their dream house. Then we create tasks for them or create ‘treasures’ for them. A task might be something like having to build their dream playpark/restaurant etc within this world. My BH is busy building an underground railway to each house and we tell the kids there’s a secret within the world to go and discover…so we make it interactive and a family activity.
Besides playing Minecraft they also play various Kinect games. We opted for the Xbox 360 with Kinect because of the physicality of the games and I’ve been quite pleasantly surprised at the variety of games available for this. We’re busy trying out a couple of demo’s and there’s dancing games, Star Wars fighting games, Boxing and of course all the athletics and adventure sports games – and it’s fun to watch them play, as well as joining in with them. I walked into the house yesterday after telling them they can try out one of the dance demos and they were just bouncing and laughing and getting a good work out to boot.
So yes. My humble SAHM opinion is that if you’re going to leave your kid to their own devices and not monitor their activity then you’re going to find trouble – or rather they more than likely are. Do I use the gaming console as a babysitter? No – if it was a babysitter I could leave my house. I don’t do that. I think irresponsible parenting is causing more issues than games and screens, but instead of monitoring and being present with children while they are using these devices, it’s easier to point the finger at the games or videos or whatever and say how bad they are for kids. Do we really need to read about the fact that there might be sexual predators in these online games to not allow our very young kids to play online games? Surely it’s naive to think your kid is safe online, in any game…or that letting your kid play games or stare at a screen for more than 20% of their awake time won’t have an influence, especially if you’re giving them free reign on where and what and when they’re playing.
Be more involved with your kids screen time, interact with them, play the same games as them or play the games with them. Don’t let it be something that creates a barrier, use it to create a stronger bond…yes to some people playing video games might seem silly and a waste of time, but if this is the technology our kids are growing up with, then I see it more as an investment of time into my kids than a waste of time.