Last year my seven-year-old son discovered Minecraft. Before long, it became a bit of an obsession.
He was completely taken by the idea of being able to create his own world on the computer and, if I’d let him, he would have spent hours a day on it. When he wasn’t playing Minecraft, he was reading books about Minecraft or talking to me about Minecraft, to the point where my eyes would glaze over.
I have to admit I was slightly concerned. Was it okay for a kid to be so obsessed by a game on a screen? Would he find any of the content disturbing (zombies attacking, pet dogs getting killed, etc)? Would he somehow end up connecting with dodgy people online? And why was he – not to mention 120 million other people around the world – into a game that looked so… blocky?
Fortunately, there’s been some serious research done into Minecraft by a team of Aussie academics. Jane Mavoa from the University of Melbourne was involved in a study to see how kids play the game and how parents feel about it.
One of the things the study discovered is that a huge number of kids are playing Minecraft. A survey of 750 parents in Melbourne revealed that more than half of children aged 6-8 and more than two-thirds of kids aged 9-12 play the game.
That means a lot of parents have potentially had some of the same concerns as me. Even Mavoa hersel
“That’s how I ended up doing the PhD on it,” she tells Mamamia, “because I had exactly the same experience of watching my eldest becoming what I would describe as a little bit obsessed and thinking, ‘This has got to be doing something, and it’s on the computer, so it’s probably bad.’ But when I’ve actually looked into it, I’ve found that that’s probably not the case.”
Mavoa says the study showed that the number-one concern of parents about Minecraft is the amount of time their kids spend playing the game. But she believes we need to stop thinking in terms of how much screentime we allow our children to have.