Minecraft is one of the most popular games ever made. In October 2018 new figures revealed that over 91 million people play Minecraft each month. So there’s a very good chance that your child will be one of them. If they are, you may have a flurry of questions about Minecraft safety.
You’ll soon find that your child is immersed in a whole new world with a new language that you don’t understand. Here’s a quick guide to help you decipher the world of Minecraft and help you discover the best ways to keep your child safe while playing. If you want to know your Griefers from your Creepers, read on.
The game in a nutshell
At its most simple Minecraft is a game where players explore worlds and build things. One of the most appealing things about Minecraft is that there is no one way to play. It is an open ended game where players can choose what they want to do and how they want to play.
Anything in Minecraft can be broken down and used to build. So, for example, you can punch a tree to get wood and then use this wood to make a craft table. You can then use your craft table to make tools to help you build even more things. Players can explore the many different worlds in the game and build whatever they want – from massive machines, colossal castles or underground cities.
Players can choose to play in different modes, so you can choose whether the game is entirely peaceful and monster-free or whether there is some element of adventure.
In Creative mode players get unlimited resources to build whatever they want to create. They can let their imaginations flow and in this mode there are no monsters and they don’t have to kill anything. It’s all about creating.
In this mode your child plays with others to join in a big adventure. There are monsters and some battles.
In this mode players must explore the world and look for resources so that they can build shelter, feed themselves and defend themselves from danger. There are monsters, which will attack. Players must find ways to protect themselves and to fight back, crafting and creating weapons to use. If your child is young or easily scared then you can set the difficulty level in this mode to Peaceful, which means there will be no monsters.
Single player mode
Your child can play in single player mode and can happily build and create. This is the safest way to play as no one can join their game or contact them through the chat function.
In multiplayer mode, where players can join in any game from a server. Some servers are private and you can invite just your friends. Others are public and anyone can join.
Be aware that if your child joins a public server, there may be adults or older children playing and they could be exposed to inappropriate language. In multiplayer mode players can chat to anyone else playing.
Talk to your child about protecting their privacy by using a nickname instead of their real name and to never reveal their age, home town, school or to give out any other personal information.
There are specific child-friendly servers that have been set up to help families and children play the game safely. They have strict rules on language and behaviour and are often moderated by parents. You can search online to find child-friendly serves or, if you are still unsure there is even a helpline set up for parents by O2 and NSPCC. You can call 0808 8005002 for more advice.
Minecraft safety – watch out for:
A Griefer in Minecraft is any player that spoils your child’s experience of the game.
They are players who deliberately set out to steal or destroy things other people have created or collected. Sometimes Griefers join together to cause as much havoc as possible.
Creepers, like Griefers, set out to ruin other player’s games and cause as much disruption as possible.
They are characters that exist in the game but can’t be controlled by other players. They might do things like explode things next to players or damage things nearby.
Nether is the dark underworld of the game, which can be reached by entering a portal.
It is not designed for children, especially young ones and has more dangerous characters and scary things happening.
This is a community set up by server moderators, which only allows people who have been verified to join. It won’t completely remove the risk of running into a Griefer or a Creeper but it does limit it.
One of the coolest things about Minecraft is that players can create their own mods (modifications) to change the way the game looks and behaves. They can do things like giving players new abilities or letting players add dinosaurs or create big explosions. Because mods are added by players there are many that are not suitable for children. Some mods can cause the game to crash or glitch. Some include inappropriate content and some even contain viruses, which infect your computer. Before you let your child download ANY mod it is best to check online for background information.
Minecraft YouTube videos
Because Minecraft is so popular there are many YouTube videos and walkthroughs.
You do need to be aware that many are not written for children and if you let your child browse unsupervised there’s a high chance they will stumble across inappropriate language.
Is Minecraft addictive?
It’s certainly a game that players can become very immersed in and you might find that your child loses track of time and wants to play for longer and longer.
There’s no end to the game so your child could play forever! It might be worth setting limits for screen time before you let your child play.
Should you take the plunge?
Minecraft is a game which lets children’s imaginations and creativity flow. As long as you are aware of the different modes and settings and take all the usual precautions to talk to your child about staying safe online, and Minecraft safety in general, then it’s a safe and immersive game for children to play. Be aware though that once your child discovers it, it might take over your house for a while and you might find yourself having long conversations about the worlds they’ve created and the cool things they’ve built.