When it comes to children and screen time, many parents want to take a cautionary approach as I do. For the past couple of years, I have observed my 6 and 9 year old boys’ passion and interest grow more and more for the game. Why? How does this game impact them? How does Minecraft with graphics that are boxy and blurry, and sounds are primitive so popular?
I decided to join in the game and understand why most kids love to play Minecraft. The point of Minecraft seems simple: build practically anything you can imagine. Some kids recreate famous pieces of architecture, others express their creativity through grand designs. I find that Minecraft is like discovering a huge and limitless pile of Lego blocks. The open format of this game makes building anything absolutely possible. Players (avatars) with customizable “skins” can collect resources by chopping trees and digging up soil. Eventually, these resources can be used in formulas to create other tools. Tools can start simple like hammers and shovels, but if players gain enough resources, they can build complex tools—circuits, trains, towns, villages, etc.
Having organized several Minecraft competitions and worked with kids and teens to teach them coding using Minecraft as an engagement tool, I believe Minecraft is not just a game but and educational tool with many benefits;
- Teaches Collaboration and Teamwork
My children like yours can play for long hours on solo Minecraft missions. But they seem to have most fun and excitement when they get to engage with one another to overcome obstacles and achieve success. Regardless if they play the game in Creative or Survival mode, I have observed how kids learn to define roles and responsibilities for each other, get into disagreements and come to compromises (most of the time!) and really enhance their social skills. But parents beware – Adult supervision and guidance is sometimes needed to resolve disputes when younger kids are involved.
- Fosters Design skills through Experimentation
Players will get to exercise their spatial awareness and geometry skills while building structures with these blocks. Kids as young as 6 years old learn how to measure 2 and 3 dimensional spaces, e.g. X, Y, Z, without realizing they are learning math skills. Children quickly learn what’s possible with the six faces of a cube, and how to stack blocks in a way that is structurally sound. They can run wild with the imagination to design the next Burj Khalifa or design the site for Expo 2020 as we discovered during our summer Minecraft competition.
- Helps with Learning
Minecraft was originally marketed as a game, but it didn’t take long for universities and schools to start exploring its enormous potential as a tool for education. Today, Minecraft is being used in the classroom to teach language, history and math, but the game itself naturally teaches a wide range of concepts – logic, problem solving, goal setting, science, economics and literacy to name just a few. Kids experiment in Minecraft, take risks and learn from their mistakes while having fun and staying engaged. Parents, please join in with your children from time to time.
- Promotes Focus
I’ve observed how Minecraft has a superglue-like hold over my kids’s attention. It’s a game where their intense focus is fostered and rewarded. Their ability to successfully keep track of several tasks and keyboard strokes at once and all the different things that are going on around them is a special skill to develop, and is the key to surviving and enjoying the game.
- Appeals to different types of kids
One of the best things about Minecraft is that it’s equally well-suited to lots of different types of players – those who like to design and build stuff enjoy it just as much as those that want to run off and fight monsters. The problem solvers, the tinkerers and the storytellers have as much fun as those who want to create and foster communities. Kids at different levels of experience and ability can play together in the same world, and whole families can join each other on adventures or work on collaborative projects.
- Teaches Resource Management
In Minecraft, you have to dig and look for materials or resources which can be used to create other tools. While kids can create a diamond sword in seconds, they learn they must search and find the raw materials before having the privilege of owning a diamond sword. Children must discover new resources and experiment with different recipe combinations to create tools in Minecraft. They must figure out how to build a shelter before night falls and feed their avatar.
- Develops a Culture of Sharing and Community Engagement
My kids always talks about how players are constantly sharing their custom-made mods, quest maps, impressive artwork, and wiki entries. They are subscribing to this culture that encourages people to explore their own ideas and contribute too. In some of our coding classes, we observe how students develop programs and willingly share their work and mods with other students.
I can keep going about Minecraft and its benefits. However, too much of a good thing can be bad too – right. How much playing time is too much? Is joining multi-server games without parental oversight OK? Luckily most of the downside can be managed.
This blog is contributed by our guest blogger:
Amir Yazdanpanah, Founder/CEO of MakersBuilders