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How to prevent children from becoming addicted to Minecraft

Young children addicted to Minecraft. It’s a reality facing many families today.

 

Perhaps you’re experiencing it first-hand with your own children as you attempt to pry the gaming consoles from their hands, or ask them to log off the computer and complete techno-tantrums ensue.

 

Perhaps your friends have told you about their children’s Minecraft obsession and this has deterred you from letting your little one download Minecraft.

 

Parents are increasingly worried that their otherwise well-adjusted child can become addicted to Minecraft. And it can happen so quickly.

 

Now I’ve previously discussed just how beneficial Minecraft can be for children. And it certainly can be helpful (heck, it can even be educational).

 

But it has to be carefully managed.  You see children can easily become addicted to Minecraft. It’s enticing. It’s mesmerising.

 

So what can parents do to prevent their child from becoming addicted to Minecraft?

 

1. Establish Minecraft Rules

Set (and enforce) rules about how much time they’ll play Minecraft (because we know if they had their way, they wouldn’t switch it off). Not only do you need to discuss how much time they’ll spend playing Minecraft, but you also need to discuss when, where, how and with whom it will be used.

 

But the essential part of this step is that this must be done before they start playing Minecraft (because let’s face it, it’s impossible to have a proper conversation with them once they’re in the “Minecraft entranced state”). In an ideal world, we would have these conversations before Minecraft is even downloaded. But if this isn’t the case, don’t fret, it’s not too late to have these conversations. Now.

 

2. Help Them to Find Cues to Transition Away From Minecraft

Simply asking your child to switch off Minecraft at a specific time or after an elapsed period of time is often ineffective. And it often results in tears and tantrums. Why? Children are often so engrossed with what they’re doing and they may be in the middle of an important task. You see, in Minecraft, there’s no end point.  There’s no level that they can reach and feel like they’re finished.  So they need help and cues to transition away from Minecraft.

 

Some effective ways to do this, is to give them ample warning that they’ll soon need to finish playing Minecraft, so that they can make the necessary arrangements to finish (perhaps it’s letting their friends know that they’ll soon be leaving if they’re playing in multi-player mode, or perhaps they simply need to finish crafting an important tool). Warnings help to prime them for what’s coming next. Generally, I recommend at least two warnings before it’s time to switch off.

 

Help them to identify parts of Minecraft where it’s easier to leave.  Identify distinguishable parts of Minecraft that signal changes in the game. For example, when Minecraft transitions from day to night it is often a great way to signal that it’s an appropriate time to leave. Alternatively, your child may need to finish making a recipe on the crafting table before they exit Minecraft. Encourage your child to articulate exactly what they’re trying to accomplish before they exit the game, so you’re aware of how much time they’ll need. If they feel like they have some control over switching it off, they’re more likely to do this, without the tears.

 

3. Have a Succession Plan-

Make sure your child is aware about what they will do when Minecraft is switched off. They need to know what’s next on the agenda. And it really helps if it’s something they’re looking forward to doing (and logging off Minecraft to go and do homework is definitely not appealing. Hence, why I always recommend homework’s done before Minecraft).

 

An alternative idea is a menu board of activities. This is sometimes a great way to entice children off Minecraft and to help them to transition to another activity. They have some locus of control over what they do next (this is in fact why they also love Minecraft so much, because they’re pretty much “free” to roam and explore their digital world and kids love this freedom and choice).

 

I’d love to know in the comments below, what strategies have you used to prevent your little one becoming addicted to Minecraft? I’d love to know and share what actually works.

 

 

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I’m Dr. Kristy Goodwin

Researcher, speaker, author, and mum - and not only do I GET it, I’ve dedicated my entire career to helping my fellow professionals and parents explore this exact digital dilemma.

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