If you’re a parent of a child above five, you’ve probably heard of Minecraft from other parents or have probably been playing it yourself. If you don’t really know what it is but have probably been subjected to a whole genre of Minecraft memes, videos and tweets across your social media feed, you aren’t alone.
So, what is Minecraft really and why is it all the rage these days, especially with the younger generation? What started off as a video game in 2009, Minecraft has quickly evolved into a whole parallel world (pun quite certainly intended), with books, YouTube vloggers, a fandom and of course, a movie in the works. The game essentially is a world-building program, consisting of rough 3-D objects, especially cubes, that encourages players to collect resources, build their ‘world’ and negotiate with physics-defying hurdles. Aptly labelled as the virtual Legos, Minecraft has traversed the apprehensive attitudes that most parents have towards video games and have even progressed as an exceptional educational tool.
Top reasons why Minecraft is not the video game for your child
But of course, like any other product, it comes with certain disadvantages as well. With all the fanfare singing praises about Minecraft being one of the best video games for this and that, it can be easy to get lost in all that information, particularly when one is trying to research the pros and cons of allowing their child to indulge in this game. If most of the internet will tell you why Minecraft is the best videogame for your kid, I’m here to tell you what to be wary about.
There is no finite progression in the game that may lead to monotony and demotivation.
While most video games have a constant progression into higher levels that get more and more complicated to complete, Minecraft does not really have the concept of advancement of levels. In fact, the difficulty in the game only arises if the player selects the survival mode. Unlike the adventure and creative modes, where the player gets unlimited resources and little to no challenges, in the survival mode, the player needs to acquire and allocate their resources appropriately in order to build their Minecraft world. As a learning tool, one of the important attributes required is an orientation towards a particular goal. While Minecraft does have it’s benefits as a learning/ educational tool, the lack of quantitative measurement of one’s progress in the game makes it a little unidimensional in that aspect. Also, striving towards an undefined objective can be a cause for monotony.
Since Minecraft is not defined by levels, which is, in most cases a rewarding reinforcement to continue playing any game, it can be demotivating to the child due to the lack of a positive boost during the course of engaging in Minecraft. Impairs time management and can stunt skill development.
Losing track of time
Due to Minecraft being a limitless game, it can be easy to lose oneself and keep a track of time while indulging in it. Parents of Minecrafters have a major bone to pick with the amount of time their child spends on either playing the game or browsing through YouTube and streaming vlogs of popular Minecrafters. The more time the child spends in a virtual world, the harder it can get to stay in touch with the reality of the real world. Spending time on a game that doesn’t really challenge your child’s intelligence can make them feel adequacy with mediocrity and limit themselves to their comfort zones.
Affecting learning abilities
It is sort of like a bird constantly feeding its chicks to the point where the chicks don’t learn how to hunt for their own food or fly out of their nest. Quite a hyperbolic comparison for the effects of a video game, but anything to put a point across. Varying effects on students of different learning modalities. While Minecraft is being increasingly used in educational setups, it is important to be sensitive to the adaptivity and unique learning styles of several students. With most schools functioning online these days, Minecraft has become a useful learning tool with many teachers incorporating it into their curriculum. Depending on the learning modality of the child, it can either be a great benefit or quite useless. Kinaesthetic learners (these people learn by doing, enacting, experimenting a concept) substantially benefit from using Minecraft to learn concepts of resource management, resource allocation, budgeting etc. However, this may not benefit visual learners (people who learn by seeing, visualizing etc.) as much. Auditory (people who learn through listening) and tactile (those who learn through writing and maintaining records etc.) learners are the most at disadvantage when learning happens through Minecraft.
Addiction and cyberbullying
Can lead to addiction and cause other psychological issues Like most other cyber and video game-related avenues, Minecraft can also lead your child to develop an addiction, cause an acute dependency and become a victim of cyberbullying. With the software having very little parental control and the chances of your child entering into the multiplayer mode, the chances of bullying and harassment online become higher. The only control that the parent might have is if they decide to rent a server and keep tab of the interactions their child is having online. The lack of age cap on the game means that members of varying ages are engaging with each other in a global sense and your child is more likely to either bully or be bullied than not. Apart from that, due to the sheer nature of video games, your child may get a little too deeply invested in the game and develop an addiction towards it.
Losing touch with reality
Without early intervention, the child becomes too dependent on a fictional/virtually created world and fails to distinguish between what is real and what is not. Although the game doesn’t have the kind of violence that stands out when compared to other video games, to go on to be dubbed as a ‘sandbox’ game, Minecraft still has a substantial amount of content- whether it be on the game itself, the interactions during multiplayer modes or even on the streams of popular Minecraft YouTubers.
In conclusion, as tempting as it is to leave your child to occupy themselves with what is one of the best video games out there, it is necessary to exercise a certain amount of discretion. So, as to say, the lines between the good and the bad in the world of Minecraft are quite certainly blurry.