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Choosing Minecraft over Disney (medium.com)
509 points by don_neufeld on May 19, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 185 comments



My kids are huge Minecraft fanatics. I set them up their own server with a whitelist, and now they have over 40 of their friends on it building incredible things.

Not wanting to waste this opportunity, I'm using Purugin (https://github.com/enebo/Purugin) and helping them learn to write plugins in Ruby for their server. I'm writing a book with my son and daughter about the experience in hopes other parents out there can channel their kid's passion into learning a skill that will serve them the rest of their lives, no matter what occupation they choose.

Minecraft has been a life changing event in our home. My kids would rather create than consume. That's something I can get behind as a parent.


Thank you for giving me hope about what being a parent can be. I see all my friends who've started having kids over the past few years just plunking junior down in front of the tv to keep her occupied. I want to believe that there are others out there who are willing to try and find another way, but my immediate circles were seeming otherwise.

It's great to hear they have so many friends engaging with them. You can try alternate forms of entertainment like this, but if all the friends just watch tv, you're either ostrisizing your own child or becoming the "bad parent" in their eye because everyone else gets to watch tv.


I don't have TV, but I let my son watch TV. It's just stuff I've checked out, like "Curious George" on Netflix, or the 1960s "Batman" TV show that I have on Plex.

Sure, he's heard about Mighty Morphin Power Rangers from his friends at pre-school, but his mother and I think it's too intense for him right now.

I don't let my life be ruled by what other people think is popular, I'm certainly not going to let my child be raised according to that standard.


I feel a little bad doing this plug, but I strongly recommend Avatar: The Last Airbender when you feel he's old enough. (Seven seems to be a reasonable time to introduce it.) If you haven't seen it, see it for yourself first. It is perhaps the deepest and most nuanced "made for kids" thing I've seen at all: it provides a lot of discussion fodder.


I second that. Avatar: The Last Airbender deals with a lot of potentially serious material deftly, with humor and grace to match. All three season are on Netflix's Instant Streaming.


Unfortunately, the series is no longer available on Netflix due to contract expiration.


How do you find out about this stuff? :(

Welll. I just did some light searching and was unable to find a way to purchase all 3 books at once except via TheHut.com. Hope it's okay to link it:

http://www.thehut.com/dvd/avatar-the-last-airbender-the-comp...


> "How do you find out about this stuff? :("

There were tools...

http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57584518-93/netflix-cuts-ba...


Since when? I just watched Sokka's Master with my son yesterday.


He's right :( just checked, and it's available until 5/22/13.


I've tried watching it. It seems that I fall asleep whenever I start watching the first episode. The same thing happens to me when I watch "Fringe." Both are shows I'm fairly certain I would like.

I'll give it another try when I'm well-rested.


The first season is a bit slow, introducing the characters, but it picks up :)


I can recommend "Jane and the Dragon", both my 3 and 6 year old love it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_and_the_Dragon_(TV_series)


I know a lot of families where parents discourage internet usage (one shared computer, time limits, use only with parent sitting next to you, etc) but have no problem with excessive TV. Glad to see someone is getting it right :).


I think I agree with your main point here, but it seems you're associating the idea of putting constraints on internet usage with the idea of discouraging internet usage.

I think you were making the point that parents should be just as attentive to the TV shows their children are watching as they are to the internet their children are exploring, but I just wanted to be sure. ;-)


Surveillance has a chilling effect, even if you're not doing anything wrong. For the same reason I wouldn't develop the same socially if my parents had forced me to wear a wire in the school cafeteria, I wouldn't be nearly as freely curious if my parents were watching and questioning my web browsing. I'd probably have become an entirely different person.

Personally I think parents should look out for Very Bad Things like sharing phone numbers and addresses or meeting with strangers, children living on /b/, people advocating real-world violence, etc. but if the internet is a family-only activity, children will never learn to use it to its full potential.

Time limits on the order of a couple hours are pretty reasonable, but I'm talking about people who set a limit of 15 minutes/day, or wealthy families that deliberately have one computer shared with 6+ people because they don't want it to become significant in anyone's life.

Also you are probably not going to become a programmer if your parents are nontechnical and installing software on the shared computer requires extensive justification/begging that usually leads to "no."

I could just be biased by the kids I knew, however. Their parents saw the internet primarily as a strange and foreign threat to be mitigated, and so all internet activity was bad until justified by "legitimate" need, rather than encouraged unless dangerous.


Where are you located? We have a videogame museum in Oakland, where we are CONSTANTLY asked if we have classes in how to write Minecraft mods... We'd love to offer a class on this, possibly using your materials when they're ready! http://www.themade.org


I'm in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada. I used to work for Engine Yard across the bay in SF, so I'm familiar with the city and have ties there.

I'm sure I could come up with a flimsy excuse to come down to Oakland when we're done :)

My wife's signed on to help with the book as well. She's never really played Minecraft, so she's the perfect person to help vet the material to make sure non-techies can understand it as well.


Let me know when yer in town and we'll roll out the red carpet. alex@themade.org


I go to school at Cal. I haven't written any mods yet, but if you're looking for people to help teach, I'd love to offer my services, both teaching and helping to develop material.


We'd love to have yer help! Email alex@themade.org


My kids would rather create than consume. That's something I can get behind as a parent.

In other words, it's the new Lego.


Yes, however I don't remember playing with Lego for hours everyday, week after week, month after month. There's something qualitatively different about Minecraft that makes it even more engaging than Lego.

In fact, today's modern Lego is nothing like it used to be. Today kids get a kit, which they build from the instructions, then put it on a shelf. They _consume_ Lego now, whereas when I was a kid I _created_ with Lego.

When my kids have kids, they may very well show their children some Lego, and their kids may say "oh, you mean it's sort of like Minecraft".


Hm, that is an interesting point, I never fully realized it, but you're right - over the recent years, I only remember seeing themed Lego sets like you describe in shops, not the all-purpose "box of blocks" I remember from my childhood.

I will stop by a toy store I have on my way to lunch today, and check out their offer of Lego (Legos? Legoes?).


OK, I went to two toy stores, and they both only had one box of around 200 "generic" lego blocks, marketed as "supplementary". Rest of Lego products were of the above mentioned build&forget variety. Quite sad.


(largely) free Lego, over the internet with all your friends and mods and plugins and such.

So: kind of, but so much more.


You are awesome :)

edit: if/when I have kids, I had been thinking of giving them a Linux box and a prepaid debit card, telling them, "you can do, install, buy, or do whatever you want with this machine, the internet connection, and the money, as long as it's legal". This fits in nicely with the kind of thoughts and attitudes I'd like to instill.


The money part is brave and will likely work out. However, its also a great opportunity to teach cash flow rather then balance sheet.

My dad did something really great when I was young: He paid me my entire allowance in bulk once a year. Of course the first year it failed and I bought all sorts of crap and was out within weeks. That was the idea. The year afterwards I was too afraid to spend anything because it was so painful having nothing. The year afterwards he introduced me to bonds and some stocks to help build some income.


You know, some Asian cultures (including my own - Japan) inadvertently does this through the New Years' Money Gifts given to you from your older relatives (uncles, aunts, grandparents). The amount differs from family to family, but it's not rare at all to get a couple hundred bucks worth from one person. This can add up to ~$1k easily.

So kids in these countries learn (well at least some of them) to ration this big annual pay day over the year, deciding whether they want to buy comics or that hot new game that came out, etc.


I once refused my grandma's money.

This turned into a lesson on always accepting gifts. It was awkward.


That's pretty interesting. What age did that start and, if you don't mind telling, how much was given? Willing to try that with my future kids.


How old were you the first year, out of curiosity?


10. He gave me adjusted for inflation ( and converted from DM to EUR to USD ) it would be 200. Essentially age * 20.


Aren't you afraid they could waste all the money on some farmville (or some other game's) $50 crop growth booster?


I'd hope that by limiting the amount of money given to them and giving them ownership, that they would research and intelligently decide what to buy. Poor decisions would be a good learning experience too so it wouldn't be for naught.


If I were a child though, my measure of a good purchase decision would probably be how much entertainment I got for my money. In that case, blasting $50 on a freemium game might not seem like a bad purchase at all. What will you teach your kids to use as a measure of a good purchase? For an adult, you have all kinds of financial responsibilities to account for, so frivolous purchases can screw you over. As a kid, you have no financial responsibility and no consequence for spending all your cash on frivolous stuff.


I'm not a parent yet, but I suppose I'd be more afraid they end up blowing 50k on a toaster in their adulthood because I didn't teach them the value of money early on. A $50 mistake when you're a kid is nowhere near as much of a problem as a 50k mistake when you're 30.


Would you have, as a kid?


Can't say for sure, when I was a kid, there was no farmville and no credit cards. It is more popular here to pay via SMS short numbers and there are a lot of kids spending their parents' money to boost levels of their cows.

Although it might be entirely different matter, when you are responsible for your decisions and when it's your money. Only one way to find out.


Just FYI a checking account and associated debit card from your bank are often free, while standalone prepaid credit card has hefty fees.


I'd love it if you blogged the book as you write it. I'm always looking for new ways to engage my 4yo daughter with this stuff as she grows up.


My 4 year old son started playing Minecraft in creative mode when he was 3. He's become quite adept with the mouse and keyboard.

Here's a video of him building a train, ahem, minecart track: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkYt3-kihNE

My husband wrote out a cheat-sheet for him to copy letter-by-letter into the command line to switch between creative and survival mode. He remains in creative mode except when he wants to use the crafting table.

I've tried introducing him to Scratch, however, since it is so word-based, it is quite difficult to teach to a non-reader. In Minecraft, even though he can't read, he can tell me what almost every piece of material is in his inventory.

Anyway, long story short, we're always looking for G-rated Minecraft Youtube videos to learn from.

My husband hosts a server world for us (and sometimes his cousins join us). I would love for him to have the opportunity to play Minecraft with kids his own age, but I don't know of any others, does your daughter play or is she just getting started with it?


Here's a mother and her young child (4? 5?) playing around with Minecraft.

(http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAA32A313F61AFBBB)

It's cute and fun, and it can expand in all sorts of different ways. Arts and crafts, or programming, or design, or real world play.


All this kid wants to do is make zombies. That's adorable.


To me, this reads less like a Minecraft-is-great piece and more like a tablets-are-great piece. Julie's daughter isn't just choosing Minecraft over Disney -- she's choosing activity over passivity, creation instead of consumption.

For the first time ever, toddlers (as in, people too young to understand how a Gameboy works) are interacting and playing in increasingly complex ways. It's not a niche often covered in HN, but the childrens' app market is booming at an unparalleled level: it's why everyone from Amazon to Valve is trying to get involved, because suddenly we have this ubiquitous magical technology that lets our five year olds learn fractions while being on an adventure -- and the price is $.99, instead of an overpriced $15.99 pop-up book or a $49.99 DVD.

There's a lot of FUD in this overwhelmingly technological age, but I think it speaks volumes when I think that I'd rather be a kid now than any other time. The future is bright.


It's more than that. I have an 8 year old and an 11 year old who are into minecraft. Minecraft is 100x better than other video games. My son is using redstone and logic gates to build things. My daughter designs these expansive cities with, yes, pools full of wool. It's better than shooting zombies with peas or wiping out the world with an engineered parasite.


Agreed re: minecraft, which is fantastic, but Plants vs. Zombies is actually a really good game too. I like to think of the planting sunflowers mechanic as the kids' first introduction to compound interest.

If the kids are really excited about logic gates, hunt down "Rocky's Boots"[1] or one of its descendants.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rockys_Boots



Thanks! I just cut-and-pasted it, didn't think to check whether the quote had made it through unmolested.


I can't tell you how excited my 11 year old was this morning to show me his latest world right after he'd installed a new texture pack that worked with the old red-blue 3D glasses. I tried to explore around a really felt like an old geezer when I accidentally busted a hole in his wall when I was trying to climb a ladder. "I don't understand these new-fangled games."


You're right. I shouldn't have busted on plants vs zombies. My point was that Minecraft is a particularly good game.


That's good to read, Minecraft is good, but I'll admit I do not regret this time I had alone or with my friends in my bedroom playing Streets of Rage, Tekken, Gran Turismo, and other less intellectual games. I also spent time playing with music instruments, legos, wood, and electronics, but I consider other games to be part of the adventure too.

I totally get your point and I just want to add I'm glad my mother didn't want to push me away from junk and towards science and creativity, because that's where I was going anyways, but making the choice myself felt great. Playing zombie games did not make my math grades any lower than other kids (or so I think), what matters is balance I guess.

Personally, creating/building things always made me happier than anything else, so I had to do it more anyways.

Maybe I'll have another point of view when I have kids though!


This seems like as good a place as any to ask for some parenting advice - I've got a 5 year old. Everybody in his school has iPads. I've noticed a few kids have minecraft, but I've resisted installing it on his iPad because from the sounds of it, mincraft is a diabolically addictive game :-)

However the story and this thread is having me re-think my opinions.

So what age should I set him up with mincraft? Is it suitable for 5 year olds?


> ...mincraft is a diabolically addictive game

Yes, Minecraft is really addictive.

> So what age should I set him up with mincraft? Is it suitable for 5 year olds?

Content-wise, it's definitely suitable for a 5 year old, the addiction aspect is something you'll have to manage. It may be a good idea to start with the creative mode.

The survival mode contains no graphic violence and the enemies are zombies and skeletons that are already dead, although you might have to kill some cute animals to eat (you can play vegan if you like the challenge). There's no sex except animal reproduction, which is represented by tiny hearts and small animals appearing.


Yep, brilliant for 5 year olds and the "Pocket Edition" tablet interface is a lot easier for young kids to handle than the mouse-keyboard version on the PC. Plus the world is smaller, which makes it a lot harder to get hopelessly lost.

PS: People who live in brightly-coloured woolen houses shouldn't play with buckets of lava.


I think you're underestimating the ability of toddlers. At 2-3 years old I could select the paint shop pro disk out of the box (it was a different color), put it into the apple Mac plus. Run the app. Do my digital drawings. Save.


"Leon learned how to use Skype really well. He finds the app in iPhone, opens it, finds the grandma he wants to talk to, opens chat, presses videocall button. And there comes the problem - Leon can't talk yet."

(translated from Russian)

http://bash.im/quote/422509


My 4yo daughter can set the foreground and background colors in emacs on her own (the commands are written out in her notebook, but not in any particular order). We were both really proud the first time she pulled it off.

a text editor with bright colors and large fonts is thousands of times better than magnetic letters.


> My 4yo daughter can set the foreground and background colors in emacs

You, sir, win!

More seriously, has she learnt how to read and type? Or does she like playing with letters on the screen?


She types by hunt and peck. The was a while where I'd have to help her find the "f" key, etc., but that's pretty rare now. She has a notebook with some words spelled out in it (names mostly: "Cinderella," "Ariel," "Mommy,"...) and she'll type them in and read them, and I'll usually write her some sort of message on the screen when we set it up.

We started doing this last fall IIRC and she'd either play with letters or we'd use commands and type words in together. There was a lot of filling the screen with "*" to make a snowstorm. She's somewhat more independent now but there's still a lot of running back and forth and consultation.

She likes Webdings a lot too.


Forgot to mention the most important part: I let her pick the font and we set the point size to 72 (the max). Large letters help.


awesome. :) Thanks for sharing!


The child in question is nine. I distinctly recall a friend of mine having a gameboy in primary school, and I got my first computer (well, ‘us kids’ got it) at that age, too. With an actual keyboard and letting me explore that thing rather than merely being an interface to Youtube and Minecraft.


I got my first computer when I was 7 (2nd grade). I had to built it—my dad gave me the circuit board, a bunch of parts and the schematic. He showed me how to match the schematic parts to thier number on the board and the number on the chip. He gave me a cheat sheet for the resistor's colors (I didn't end up memorizing them--to this day I have to look them up). He showed me how to bend the pins so the parts didn't fall out when you turned the board over to solder them.

I'd spend an hour putting parts in, then I'd get to my favorite part where I got to use the soldering iron. I'd flip the board over and solder all the holes I'd just filled with parts. My dad would monitor me for a few minutes before he got bored and then it was all me.

I don't remember how long it took because it was so long ago, but I remember finally soldering the last part in and looking in awe at my bootleg Apple ][+. The first time I used it it didn't even have a case. And no disks either--we used the tape to load some games and play around. I learned basic that way and that computer is probably why I'm a programmer today.

I loved that computer—I still have that computer. And it still works.


Yep. It's funny, but a 5 year old can easily manage an oscilloscope and basic analog circuits. And a 6-7 year old - an oscilloscope, a logic probe and digital circuits. The kid doesn't have to be a wunderkind too. It is just a matter of being exposed to these tools and having dad working at home with the equipment.


My dad picked me up and chucked me behind his first computer when I was 3 (24 years ago) to play Paratrooper with a joystick. Supposedly it didn't take too long before I could start the thing up, switch floppy disks, a: and start up the game(s). Not too long later my parents put me behind the PC whenever there was a new game so I could figure it out.


This! I don't know if the fact that an iPad can't be programmed but kids are getting tons of them is a net positive (exposure to stuff in general) or a net negative (no programming allowed). Wishing Apple would relax their restrictions.


You can program games on the iPad:

http://twolivesleft.com/Codea/

It all depends on what you compare it to. To me, iPad and iPhone are the new SNES and Game Boy (which I grew up with), and they are much more open. The biggest loss to me is the experience of playing socially on a split-screen.


I wouldn't say I was programming at the age of 9 on the Pentium I with Windows 95, but I was happily clicking away in Windows Explorer, quite literally ‘exploring’. Programming started a few years later with QBASIC and such :)


I got my first computer around that age as well. However, that was far from the norm.


I probably have a terrible bias there, but most other kids I knew had access to computers, too, at this age and possibly before. That was in 1999/2000, I guess you’re slightly older.


Indeed, my first computer at home was around 1988.


I agree that tablets/phones/etc are a great way for children to learn and interact.

However, I'm always weary that they become accustomed to getting everything "on demand". Anecdotally, I have young family members who have a hard time focusing when it comes to things like homework. I guess it's possible that I could have imagined this connection though.

I'd love to see a study take a look at how these devices affect children's attention spans as they get older.


As a relatively new parent, I'm wary about this "epidemic" of ADHD. Ken Robinson did a fascinating talk on this: http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_changing_education_par...


I had to put on a blanket "live action Disney Channel show" ban after my son (10 at the time) started marathoning "Good Luck Charlie" on Netflix and transformed into an obnoxious little jerk, never missing a chance to make a snarky comment. It was very disturbing. Removing the garbage quality tween shows caused an immediate reversal.

Still, not everything Disney makes is bad, Phineas and Ferb is brilliant.


Wow, I was curious as to how bad it could be ...

It's bad. The first video that came up on YouTube is an episode on the official Disney channel[1]. The plot involves exactly what you said: consistently snarky comments, combative conversations, extreme sibling rivalry, ditzy parents, a kid stealing food (and then not being remorseful or understanding why he shouldn't break into a neighbours house), and generally poor role models all around...

It's essentially That 70's Show without the direct drug and sex references.

[1]: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-3DWJ4Hbm0


And don't get me started on the obnoxious jerks in books: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Elephant-Baby-Puffin-Picture-Books/d...

EDIT: I should probably try and make my point rather than just snarkily wave my hands towards it. Material for children which involves the main characters being obnoxious or rude or bad in some way is much older than the recent round of Disney shows (the book I'm linking to is from the 70s, and is intended for a much younger audience than the live-action Disney shows). This is because kids learn the concept of "naughtiness" at a pretty young age, and so find presentations of this naughtiness funny. They're not going to take these characters as simply role models to mirror, because the very reason they enjoy reading about or watching bad behaviour is because they are familiar with the idea that this is not how you're supposed to behave.


I see where you're coming from, but you're just wrong in this instance. If shows like "Good Luck Charlie" are sophisticated morality plays that are designed to make people more empathetic, ethical, and pro-social, I'll eat my Mickey Mouse ears.

Sometimes dreck is just dreck.


I'd have a very short list of shows that Disney makes that aren't evil.

1. Phineas and Ferb


I have one problem with Phineas and Ferb, a show I otherwise enjoy. The sister is a classic Disney tween show girl. It sets an awful example for my daughter as she relates to her brother and other peers - the boys are doing all this great, awesome, fun stuff while the girl tattles on them and cares only of boys and popularity.


The other female characters (Isabella, Vanessa, et. al) are strong enough that I can forgive the broad clumsy parody that is Candace.


Gravity Falls!!!!!!!!!!


Lizzy McGuire was a pretty good kids show. I think that era of Disney channel shows was a bit better. My sister and I are separated by 7 years, the stuff she grew up with on Disney Channel was pretty different (early 2000's).


90s cartoons were brilliant. Dexter's Lab. Alladin, Scooby Doo, Flinstones and some other creative stuff.

Now these shows and senseless Japanese cartoons are flooding the TV. Phineas and Ferb is my only hope.


There are some very good Japanese cartoons >_>

I can't vouch for what gets shown where you are mind, or where I am for that matter since I get all my media through the internet, but there are some very good cartoons available.


Scooby Doo is still on Boomerang (I think, my TiVo just harvests them). My daughter is a big fan.


I love watching Phineas & Ferb with my sons (6 & almost 3). The biggest problem I have is that sometimes they'd rather watch it than learn from it (creativity and the like). Fortunately, as a parent, that's where my wife and I come in.


An entire generation will know about the magical platypus.


I think too many commenters here are focusing on the positive effects of Minecraft rather than the negative effects of modern television.

In my opinion, anything is better than Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, and their derivatives. The author pretty thoroughly covers what is wrong with them, and she is not alone in her opinion. I know people who have specifically blocked those channels on their TV, so that the kids are forced to watch something better.


The Disney shows are just evil - they give kids horrible stereotypes to emulate. I know several girls that are walking little Disney show characters. They are mean, snarky, and talk in zingers like the punchlines of Shake it Up or A.N.T. Farm. It is kind of sad.

We see a change in behavior when our 7 year old daughter sneaks off and watches some of these show. Instant attitude. Our clever daughter decides she wants to be a famous dancer.


I ate dinner in a Burger King last week that had a TV playing The Wizards of Waverly Place.

I was horrified. The main character shows no empathy toward the people around her (she lets some girls eat some spoiled sandwiches that she was told to dispose of, and doesn't skip a beat when they later start vomiting) and insults and physically attacks her brother (knocking over his food tray) constantly without any provocation. She repeatedly mis-uses trite motivational sound bites to deflect blame (announcing, "We could focus on the past, and on whose fault this is, or we could focus on the now" when the fault was clearly her own negligence--that started to make me want to punch her in the face!). And, of course, she constantly uses magic to cover up her mistakes and avoid responsibility.

I'm not even a parent, and I'm mad.


> anything is better than Disney Channel

I'd say anything is better than TV. And also, anything is better than tablet games, but TV.

God, my 3yo can play hours of lego alone, crafting "planes submarines" and things like that.

And I am not against playing video games with him, but then it must be together. We played Bad Piggies, Minecraft, and even GTA (call me fool!).


Yes, this was what I took away from the article: "Micecraft is cool, I guess, but anything is better than Disney tween sitcoms."


It was a wakeup call for me when I literally heard the Disney channel coming out of the mouth of my 7 year old girl. I spent a day and actually watched that stuff. Day-um. It was good for a life lesson about how tv is a huge exaggeration of real life and you probably shouldn't talk like the characters on tv until you can appreciate the impact of those words and attitudes.


It was a wakeup call for me when I literally heard the Fox News channel coming out of the mouth of my 70 year grandmother... etc. Barf.

The point is much more general: programmed stimulation is a problem. Unless you are a slave owner, then programmed stimulation can be good for production.


Well, there's a difference in that Fox News was simply telling your 70 y/o grandmother that her preexisting views were shared by many others, and therefore acceptable to express in public.

On the other hand, live action Disney shows have a much greater effect, because they can permanently affect the mental and social development of young children.


The part I really had trouble with was the shows had kind of a pervasive cynicism to them while the dialog consisted largely of biting sarcasm. The message seemed to be "whoever is fastest on the draw with a sarcastic insult is coolest."

Just taking an episode of South Park and s///g'ing the profanity with disnified words like "dweebiod" doesn't alchemically transmute it into "wholesome family entertainment". If you talk to your real life friends like the "friends" do on these shows, you're not going to have many of them.


Minecraft Lets Plays are amazing, I can't think of any other game where it spawned such a large community. For people who want to watch a little bit more serious Lets Plays (not just targeted at toddlers) I recommend the MindCrack[0] server/network of Youtubers. In particular EthosLab[1]. There is also a large community around the ForgeCraft[2] server where most major mod creators play and test their mods. Direwolf20[3] in particular.

[0] http://www.guudelp.com/

[1] https://www.youtube.com/user/EthosLab

[2] http://www.reddit.com/r/forgecraft/

[3] https://www.youtube.com/user/direwolf20


I actually watch Japanese Minecraft LPs - it makes for excellent study material, and is highly entertaining.


Although I agree that exposure to computers is great for kids, how young is too young?

I've got a toddler (3yo) who plays games on my phone. He's actually pretty good at some of the platform games on it (astonishingly good considering his age), but we're questioning his maturity with phone use.

He asks my wife all day long "when is daddy coming home", only to hear "can I play with your phone" when I walk through the door. I'll let him play with it for about half an hour just before dinner, but telling him to pack it away to eat dinner is like a declaration of war.

We've gotten to the point that we've banned him outright using my phone because of the anger/temper that it's caused. I know the links of bad behaviour and sugar consumption, but we're thinking that phone use is worse.

Anybody else seen this behaviour, or is it just bad parenting?


Welcome to being a parent. Throughout their lives they will find things that they desire above all else. Your goal should be to figure out how to use that to teach them moderation, and 3 is about the right place to start in my experience.

The primary goal for me at that stage was to help them understand delayed gratification, or specifically that working on something not as fun can lead to something fun. The secondary goal turned out to be to find other things that are just as fun. This latter goal was abetted by reading stories like "Bread and Jam for Frances" in which our heroine learns that while Bread and Jam is tasty, it isn't all there is in the world.

I did not realize it at the time but the secondary goal of finding things equally fun becomes really useful as they get older. To know from experience that no matter how fun this thing you are doing is, there are other things that are fun out there waiting to be discovered, helped mitigate some obsessing on the one fun thing. Reading/books are great for that since they come in many shapes and topics and you can learn a ton from them.


Thanks for the comment.

You're right. I think the lessons of moderation and delayed gratification should be a goal and not a blanket ban.

Finding things equally as fun is hard. He knows what he wants... what works is distracting him from what's in front of him to something else not equally as fun. We'll work on that.

As for reading, he really enjoys books but just not nearly enough as gaming. He's favorite is "The little yellow digger" and he's even memorised it. Highly recommend it.


Well, I'm not going to say parenting is easy, it's not. If it helps there is something more fun out beyond his current experience, you will know it when you find it, and you'll be on to the next thing.

As for books, the thing with reading is to get past reading into thinking and once you get there games won't be nearly as entertaining because they are always the same. Something we've done over the years is reading and talking about them. Even simple books like The Animorphs series have things to talk about, or the Boxcar Kids, or any of a zillion books. Good starters are "how would you have told this story?" or "can you create a similar one?" "What do you think character X was thinking?" "Do you think we could build a fire with just a rock and a piece of steel? Lets try it."

As long as you stay engaged, your kids will keep coming back. At this stage they are genetically programmed to seek out your approval (too bad for them, but a critical survival tool in the parental arsenal) Expect more, stay engaged, and if you have the experience I have had you will both enjoy the trip.


So far, reading has been passive. I'm liking the idea of prompting for the character's thoughts. That sounds really interesting and positive. Thanks for the suggestions.

And you're damn right. Parenting is not easy!


Now that my kids are a bit older I really want them to be obsessive about something. Minecraft is one of those things that they obsess over, and I'm torn between "It's too much," and "this is so awesome that they're passionate about something creative."

For a while I'd introduce them to a new thing and they'd get bored with it in a day or hour. That was starting to worry me.


Yeah, I'm totally cool with them being obsessed about something possibly constructive... but I don't think that's possible at 3?


That's right around the age when children should start to be able to handle sequenced events (mine is 3.5 years old and definitely working through it.) Say something like "first, we'll read a book. Next, you can play a game on the phone. Then, it's time to have dinner." Whenever you transition, remind the kid of the sequence. He'll start to get comfortable with the routine of doing something for a while and then moving on to a different task.

Some kids respond really well to a "visual schedule", where you have pictures for each event with velcro or magnets on the back, and a board to connect them to.

It can and will be a battle, simply because it's hard for a little brain to develop things like impulse control, delayed gratification, and patience. But it's important for your son to learn it, and this is a great age to work on it.


Will definitely be drawing pictures tonight. Since he still can't read, a visual schedule seems like a good idea.


Actually we had the same thing happening with my son - when he was about 3 he would run up to my brother as soon as he saw him, borrow his iphone, play games for as long as he could and ignore everything else around him. When he had to return the iPhone he would not be happy...

So for his 3rd birthday we bought him an iPod touch!

It sounds kind of crazy doesn't it - electronic devices prompting bad behaviour, so we go out and buy him one of his own!

However we thought really long and hard about what to do. We felt that throughout his life he will be presented with an endless parade of addictive electronic amusements. An important life skill would be is ignore them and learn to focus on other activities that are less immediately engaging but have a bigger long term reward. We figured that since it was already becoming an issue the time to start teaching this was now.

We also felt that with his own device we could better control the programs installed on it and when he can play it.

It turned out to be a great purchase! We worked hard to teach my son to play only for limited times and to have balance in the activities he pursues - some playing outside, some time on the iPod touch, some time with legos. We were also able to install some great educational programs. The final kicker was when age 3 and a half he started to learn how to spell and type, so he could search for "lego", "cars" and "aeroplanes" on youtube!

All up buying him a device of his own (and putting in some rules and parenting time around it) was a great decision.


His birthday was last week, and we considered it but put it off because of the temper tantrums. The reason why we're still undecided is like you say there are definitely some positives there. Word recognition at 3.5 is great!

What we tried last night was to explain the sequence. Physical playing, dinner, then the phone. We also put a timer on which went off when he had to pack away the phone. It's funny, 5 minutes before the alarm went off he announced that he was finished and to pack it away.

Hopefully it wasn't a once off but we're going to be persistent.


I'm sure all kids are different. We had a run-in with a portable DVD player for a while that was obsessive like you describe. We had to put it away. The power struggle around enforcing moderate usage turned out to be more negative than just extinguishing the behavior all together. The DVD player only comes out for plane trips now.


We didn't want a blanket ban because of the aggression, but we've now got a couple more avenues to try now. Hopefully something will work.


Yep, recognizing the problem and addressing it can be more important than the particular form of the first step you take. Every kid is different.


I wholeheartedly support the idea of children using interactive creative environments rather than just watch TV. However, as a non-parent, I can't figure out why cursing is such a big deal. Many parents wouldn't bat at eye at some pretty awful violence in movies(think Batman or something), but feel "fuck" is cause for evacuation. I have the same issue with fear of nudity.


I think I can answer that as a pretty liberal parent. Like you I don't have a big problem with cursing or nudity. But that does not mean I let my kids listen to cursing or watch nudity willy nilly. To me it is not that the hearing of cursing itself is bad. The problem is that kids start saying those words themselves in inappropriate settings. That reflects badly upon you as a parent. Things related to nudity, sex, bodily functions etc is not easy either. Like when visiting a restaurant toilet and your son asks questions about how you pie very loud so everybody else can hear. It is not really about the kids, but the fact that everybody care a lot about what everybody else thinks about you and your kids.

E.g. in Norway where I am from, it is perfectly normal to let kids run around stark naked at the beach. It is seen as natural and nobody stares or makes a fuss about it. I don't have a problem with that. However when visiting the US, we don't let the kids run around naked at the beach. Not because we suddenly changed our attitudes towards nudity, but because we don't want to stick out. We don't want people to stare at us and think we are bad parents.

Ironically I read something related when visiting the DDR museum in Berlin. Being nude at the beach started as a protest against the conformist communist party. But eventually everybody in DDR became a nudist, because they didn't want to stick out by wearing clothes, because the majority stopped doing it.


I'm not sure but you could probably get arrested for letting your kid run naked in US. If you took pictures of your naked children you'd be charged with producing kiddie porn regardless of context (beach, parent, kids having fun).

One mother was charged for leaving her baby in the stroller outside of the diner in the US despite the fact that in her european country it's totally fin and everybody does it.


Wait, so every picture of a naked child is automatically child porn? And you can't let your children run around naked on the beach?

Man, you Americans are strange. goes back to eating his soup of sheep's stomach


> "every picture of a naked child is automatically child porn?"

Legally speaking, no. If the courts were given a picture of your kid running around naked on the beach, doing normal beach things, without any other reason to believe this was "child porn", they'd drop the charges fast.

The main danger is that Child Protective Services has a fairly broad mandate. If they're going to make a mistake, they'd rather be overprotective than underprotective. So if you have a picture of a naked child, they're likely to try to have your child removed from your home (temporarily) even if they know the charges won't stick.


> If the courts were given a picture of your kid running around naked on the beach, doing normal beach things, without any other reason to believe this was "child porn", they'd drop the charges fast.

I read that for some people charges were not drop fast enough to not ruin their lives.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2290682/Walmart-Lisa...

> If they're going to make a mistake, they'd rather be overprotective than underprotective.

That's funny how they think that they are being protective by removing the child from the house where it has spent its entire life because they think that might save the kid few weeks of potential additional abuse.


You are not going to get arrested for having a young kid naked at a beach.



> "I can't figure out why cursing is such a big deal"

Children soak up everything in their environment, and they try to emulate it.

One thing to remember about excessive cursing is that it tends to be fairly emotional. The problem isn't really that some guy said "fuck" in a MineCraft video; it's that such language is usually bundled with an attitude of "fuck creepers" and "I hate those shithead zombie pigmen" and "this game is being a bitch by not giving me enough diamonds". If you replaced those swear words with euphemisms (or even very clever expressions of the same emotions), the underlying problem still remains: the attitudes and emotions are not what I want my kid emulating.


I suspect it's the fantasy of innocence. A person who says "fuck" is a person who's mature and jaded and frustrated. They've seen things and they know how much life can suck.

Many parents aren't willing to imagine their child having gone through that already, even if that's not actually what it means.


My two year old says it. I really don't think she's jaded or mature, and she has NO IDEA what the word means. All she knows is that mommy or I say it when we are Extremely Frustrated (and don't manage to censor ourselves fast enough).

The worst part is, it's _extremely funny_ to hear her make a frustrated grunt, followed by "fuck!" We can't laugh, or we reward it!


A fairly large amount of it is, I think, not wanting the kid to get in trouble later on. Even if you're OK with it, the society they live in may not be, and as a parent you're preparing them to live in that society. If you don't, they get punished and alienated. Which is worse, temporarily supporting nonsense, or temporarily causing problems?


I imagine the parent in the OP would also steer her child away from violence the same way she does bad language. That's just how our society is: There are some words and phrases that we have all accepted are improper or "bad", so most of us refrain from allowing children to hear them.


Wouldn't it make sense to just teach the children that many people accept these words as bad, and leave it at that? Why censor vast amounts of content(I would imagine most of the best Minecraft videos for instance wouldn't be PG) based on language used.


"In a classic study, Cialdini and colleagues manipulated the signs that were displayed in Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park, a site often plagued by tourists who end up grabbing some of the petrified wood to take home as a souvenir. In situations like this, the first inclination of well-meaning environmentalists might be to set a strong prescriptive norm — perhaps by saying something like, 'Many past visitors have removed the petrified wood from the park, changing the state of the Petrified Forest. This is bad, don’t do this.' The idea here would be to invoke a sense of shame and severity before asking visitors to refrain from taking the wood. But read that prescriptive message once again. Is there anything descriptive in there? Yes, of course there is. That message is not just telling you that you shouldn’t take the wood — it’s also telling you that most other people do. In fact, people were actually more likely to steal wood from the forest when they saw the sign telling them how many people tend to do it themselves, even though the very next sentence was asking them to refrain. But when the researchers simply tweaked the message to read that 'the vast majority of past visitors have left the petrified wood in the park, helping to preserve the natural state of the Petrified Forest,' the thievery plummeted. [1]

Not a parent, but I would guess that kids are the same way only more so. The smart parent will make sure their kid sees other well-behaved kids most of the time.

[1] http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/psysociety/2013/03/28/ma...


> Wouldn't it make sense to just teach the children that many people accept these words as bad, and leave it at that?

I'm pretty sure kids don't think about the way other people perceive things until much older than 8-9.


If true, that's very interesting. Source?


It's actually quite a bit earlier than 8, but you can't really put a date on it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_mind#Development


They might not properly understand why it's bad to say those things until ~13 due to a lack of abstract thinking, which might be what the above poster was getting at.


Well, because there are videos by other people who do not use excessive curse words. If there are alternatives, why not prefer them?

Now, if this were the parent blocking their child from viewing any Minecraft video because the majority of them include some cursing, it would be a bit different.


In my experience the Youtube/gaming videos default is not kid-friendly. If that's the case, then your kid will be getting less quality content for what I believe is basically no fair reason.


There are many Minecraft youtube videos that are PG with no swearing.

These cover the wide range of technical builds with redstone; creative builds; roleplay style; regular Let's Plays, everything.

I understand why parents don't like swearing in videos. Personally, I'm more concerned about hateful attitudes than just swearing.


What Disney produces is content made for kids. What SkyDoesMinecraft produces is content made for everyone that happens to be appropriate and relevant for kids. The latter represents what the world is. The former is a fantasy. Minecraft is awosome but the unique appeal here is of YouTube. It is, and has been for years now, a one of a kind window to the world that is especially appealing to kids. It can not be duplicated but it can go wasted. Don't be sad though, you can always skip this ad in 5 seconds.


I can't speak highly enough of the transformative capabilities of Minecraft. My 7yo has been struggling with reading because of working memory issues, even though he has a verbal reasoning score that is off the charts (we had him psych tested as part diagnosing why he was struggling with his reading).

Minecraft was about the best thing we found to motivate him to read. He wanted to know how to do stuff, I told him "it's in the Wiki" and point-blank refused to help him do it in the game. He struggled at first to even be able to type stuff into the Wiki search box, but he persevered and his reading has improved dramatically.

Every now and again (mostly at random) I will 'reward' him by jumping onto the console and dropping in a couple of special items that he hasn't seen before, and then watch him go off to the Wiki to try and work out what to do with it.

As I said, I just can't speak highly enough about it and I've told everyone who will listen about how good it is. The simplest explanation I've come up with to explain to grandparents and other interested parties about what he is doing is this: "it's Lego for the mind".


Content produced by Disney and others are written with a stereotypical kid in mind. Their brief must be something like this - "Our target audience needs a bright colour palette with lots of bubble gum pink and syrupy greens. Should have fast and loud sequences to keep them engaged. Goofy characters work. In any case - Don't Make Them Think".

Trust me it is a relief to not see the young generation glued to such content all day (which even they don't find engaging any more). If they find joy in building and designing something themselves, then more power to that.


For kid-friendly minecraft videos I recommend Paul Soares Jr.: http://www.youtube.com/user/paulsoaresjr


For slightly older kids, I would highly recommend Direwolf20's Feed the Beast Let's Play series. FTB is a collection of mods that adds entirely new tech trees to the game (amongst other things), allowing you to build advanced power generation such as nuclear and geothermal, logic gates, and even programmable bots/turtles (programmed in Lua).

Direwolf's videos are instructive and fun, and his language is appropriate for kids. http://www.youtube.com/user/direwolf20


Another good one is kurtjmac: http://www.youtube.com/user/kurtjmac He also raises money for charity by walking to an area of Minecraft where the terrain generation glitches out, called the "Far Lands".


As well as Etho's Lab. He keeps the language PG and has quite the following. http://www.youtube.com/user/EthosLab/videos


Kurt's Kerbal Space Program videos are awesome too.

Oh yeah, and Kerbal Space Program is something that could get your kids interested in space and science, perhaps not as young kids as Minecraft appeals to but perhaps a ten year old could be interested. KSP is family friendly too, with the exception of the occasional little green men dying in a horrible solid rocket booster accident or a high velocity impact with a celestial body.


I have four children between the ages of 9 and 17 and they all play Minecraft. One of the most interesting things about them playing it is that they'll play together as a team building elaborate home structures. At one point, they built an amusement park with roller coaster rides and everything. One of the other games I have introduced them to is the game Fez. It allows them to simply explore another colorful 2d/3d world as a single player.


When you think about it, Minecraft is this generation's LEGO. Kudos to Notch!


Yep. My 5yo still alternates between "Minecraft" and "the Lego game."


Great article. My kids are exactly the same (5 and 8). I would rather have them use their imaginations to play and build than watch TV violence or stupidity.

I would recommend iHasCupquake for YouTube videos. She is engaging and funny and is someone your daughter can find inpiration in as well (youtube.com/user/iHasCupquake)

Oh, and iHasCupquake, if you for whatever reason read this my daughter thinks your "hair is very pretty".


One thing about this whole discussion really bugs me:

Everyone is just talking about how to keep the children occupied with technology. I really think this is the wrong approach, there is so much more to learn and explore than stupid pixels on a screen.

When we were young my parents had the attitude that it's very important to get a "feel for the earth", in a very literal way. That's why we spend as much time outside as possible. One of the few things I remember about primary school: I was the only one who knew potatoes grow below ground. Where has this world come, that our children know so little about even the most basic stuff??


Children use huge amounts of time.

It might sound like parents are spending all this time dumping a child in front of a screen but really this time is quite short compared to the rest of the time that's available.

Gardening is another great activity. Start with cress, then herbs and vegetables in window boxes.


In my opinion "dumping a child in front of a screen" should really be the last option; only used with a good excuse and balanced by extensive investment of time. (It's of course easy for me to talk like that, but I see one of the greatest responsibilities of live in raising your children properly. Which for me includes spending a whole lot of time with them.)



It really is. I'm wondering if there may be another American epidemic at play here as well, which is the "it's cool to be stupid" phenomenon. I actually don't know around what age this starts happening but I definitely remember being hesitant to give the right answer as a kid as the other kids would make fun of me for being a nerd or what have you.


This is the massive change afoot that Hollywood needs to recognize. 20 years ago they were fighting over which network you would watch or which film you would go to see. But now the entire Movie/TV industry has to compete against other forms of entertainment. While you can argue that this has always been the case, computer-based entertainment is a lot more "TV-like" than going out to a concert or seeing a play. I think this long term trend poses an existential threat to the TV and movie business. They are going to need to adapt to this new environment or risk irrelevance.


It got to the point that my kids were begging me to cancel cable TV and use the proceeds to buy an additional computer so they'd have less sharing contention for the computer that did Youtube and Minecraft.

So I did.


One of the things I've learned from meeting smart adults with kids is how legitimate -- and prevalent -- are "no stupid bullshit" rules governing what kids may watch. I've met more than one couple now that forbids Hannah Montana, Bratz, and other associated nonsense, and their kids are probably better functioning for it.

If instead of idiot TV they're messing around with Minecraft -- a screen-bound Lego set with as close to infinite pieces as makes no difference -- so much the better.


OMG this is so true. Disney and Nick were so bad that we cancelled cable for several years before eventually giving up when a good deal came along. :( We've regretted it. We limit how much they watch, but it doesn't matter. It isn't even attitude so much as just non-stop nonsense from both kids at the dinner table because that is what they watch. The shows aren't funny to begin with but imagine children trying to parrot the same behavior of the children in the shows without having any idea how to fully pull it off. It is HORRIBLE. Please make it stop. Our cable contract is coming up, but the fam is addicted again to the other shows we didn't get on air or via netflix.

So screwed.


when I was growing up I was sort of forced, sort of coaxed into reading a lot of books. So maybe I am biased, but it seems like reading books is the most educational experience a young mind can have. I also built a lot of legos, which is kind of like a real world analog to Minecraft (correct me if I'm wrong on that), and that helped develop my spatial reasoning I suppose. But it seems like literature has an almost endless potential to educate and expand your mind, whereas at a certain point minecraft/legos/etc will reach a state of greatly diminished returns. So why is the only other option for this woman's child a TV?


I tried a couple of times to get my daughter interested in Sim City, Second Life, Minecraft, etc.

Every time, she decided if she was going to go to all the trouble of building something, it should be a real thing.

She has since gotten very active in team sports.


I love Minecraft. It's one of the priceless games on the web that doesn't try to convince you into buying things with your won money- Passes, Rubies, Tokens, whatever you call them, they worth about as much as real money after it's accidentally dropped into a volcano.

Minecraft also lets you create your own story, over and over again. You can create custom maps, wire up amazing redstone systems, and simply give the player a challenge to overcome. One of the most popular maps, Skyblock, is just a few floating blocks in space, which gives the player a challenge to face.

Minecraft is one of my favorite games, and will always be.

By the way, it's budder. XD


http://www.reddit.com/r/mindcrack/

Since a lot of young parents are on this thread, I'll risk the reddit link and plug for the MindCrack community. Many up loaders there are curse banning and very kid friendly. EthosLab is by a Canadian coder/garden supplier and is logic gate heavy. KurtJMac is a Chicagoian graphic designer that is walking to the floating point error in the games world algorithm generation for charity having raised 70k for cancer patients and talks about astronomy and NASA. Both are very good.


Minecraft on a tablet? How does that work?


It is a watered-down version, with touch-based controls.


Preface: My son is 3 years old.

I let my kid choose his own entertainment. He'll more often than not either request the tablet or violent Donald Duck cartoons from the 50s (both of which we cap the duration to ~15 min). I believe that while curiosity is something to foster, we shouldn't force it upon our kids without providing them with alternative choices. Helping him develop an ability to discern pros and cons when making decisions along with negotiation skills will help round him out much more than trying to force him into a purely producer role.


Remember when the iPad came out and was widely decried for being suitable only for passive, non-creative consumption of content?


I don't think this has stopped, or even slowed. There are more counter-examples now, but there are also more supporting ones, and it feels like I see a new article somewhere on a monthly basis saying tablets are no good for creation.

Meanwhile, the kids keep painting and building things, like they did when it first came out.


Playing games is still passive, non-creative consumption of content.


Have a look at some of the things built on Minecraft (we're talking all the way up to fully functional CPUs, here) and then tell me that it's both passive and non-creative.


"Bad language is easy to curb, but stupid adult stereotypes, sarcasm, backstabbing behavior, and contempt are not."

Old way of conditioning, meet the new way of conditioning where the complexities in the way people live their life reflected in media are still circumvented and avoided in order to provide temporary peace of mind and entertainment.

Edit: I probably shouldn't share these types of thoughts on HN, but do anyways seeing what others care to explain about possible underlying dynamics going on here that aren't being said. Sorry if I am offending the HN groupthink.


I don't understand what you are saying? Playing minecraft or watching amateurs' videos of themselves playing is conditioning? By who, and how?


Bear with me.

The conditioning in this is media is shaping the minds of individuals (intentionally or not), who will most likely not be aware of this going on during consumption. The old way being television or in relation to this posting, Disney and "…stupid adult stereotypes, sarcasm, backstabbing behavior, and contempt…". The new way being "interactive" media, or in relation to this posting, Minecraft and related content consumed where "Bad language is easy to curb…".

The "stupid adult stereotypes, sarcasm, backstabbing behavior, and contempt" is hardly unique Disney or other child TV consumption (or TV for that matter…). One thing people point out with television consumption people have stated time and time again, is that it hardly invites it's viewers to explore ideas outside of the content while viewing. Then it seems like some how, the ability to be able to interact with media with content like Minecraft is some how better (allows children to be more creative, enabling more thinking, or whatever people say the benefits are compared to what people think of television now [though I bet some people were touting the benefits of television not to long ago…]), which I can see/understand the argument being made here for that with the logic being made on surface level.

However, the thing is that it isn't like what the children are doing is outside of the purpose of the game and are very much only able to do things within the constructs the game. At the end of the day, it is still a game. And like Disney shows or the like, it still does not invite the player to explore ideas and concepts that are going within the game at the same time. So to me, it seems like overall the child is no better off with being able to digest things like "Bad language…" and notions of "…stupid adult stereotypes, sarcasm, backstabbing behavior, and contempt"(hardly unique to our times since it is apart of human nature after all) that could be going on in the game or other consumable content related.

It seems to me it would be foolish to think that this "new interactive media" does any more or less compared to the "old way" (TV, or the tech before that like radio and even books) when it comes to addressing the underlying issues being avoided. And apparently, even trying to have a discussion upon such seems to be avoided…


The thing is that a lot of what people do in minecraft is not towards a single goal or accomplishment that is pre laid out by the minecraft developer(s). If you haven't played it before, it's a vast 3D world of detachable bricks that are created using a procedural algorithm. There are other entities in the world the user can fight against. But, the dominant part of the game is crafting your own creations using the 3D bricks not necessarily for any purpose at all besides one that you come up with. It's a lot like Legos in that respect. One user built a life size model of the Star Ship Enterprise (for no in-game reward at all) http://www.pcgamer.com/2010/09/28/somebody-built-the-starshi...

So because of that, minecraft does do more than watching TV, or most other goal oriented video games. If it doesn't, you'll have to elaborate on what you mean by "the underlying issues being avoided".


>you'll have to elaborate on what you mean by "the underlying issues being avoided".

Third paragraph: >However, the thing is that it isn't like what the children are doing is outside of the purpose of the game and are very much only able to do things within the constructs the game. At the end of the day, it is still a game. And like Disney shows or the like, it still does not invite the player to explore ideas and concepts that are going within the game at the same time. So to me, it seems like overall the child is no better off with being able to digest things like "Bad language…" and notions of "…stupid adult stereotypes, sarcasm, backstabbing behavior, and contempt"(hardly unique to our times since it is apart of human nature after all) that could be going on in the game or other consumable content related.


What do you mean by "does not invite the player to explore ideas and concepts that are going within the game at the same time"? And why is this so important to a child's development that without it, "overall the child is no better off"?


Does the game invite the child or player to think about their motivations when constructing things? Does the game make them think about their emotions and what is going on in the head of other players when they are razing other players creations and how that affects gameplay? Does the game help them abstract the experiences when playing the game, show them how it relates, and ultimately help give them a better understanding to the world they live in?

I would say no to all of these, just like would say about TV. And it isn't that is important or not, it is just that it offers no fundamental difference from the media that has come before when it comes to development of the mind.


In minecraft, you can chat with other people within the world. So there is communication. If you raze someones creation (which may or may not be possible depending on the access you've been given), someone else may react to that and tell you to stop. In extreme cases, you may be booted or banned from the server. Likewise, if you help other people in the game, they will likely praise you and be willing to help you on your own creations.

In real life, if you destroy or hurt someone else as a child, you are told that was bad and why. In extreme cases, you may be put on a time out, or forcefully removed from the situation. If you help other people, you make friends who will be more willing to help you.

So what is the fundamental differentiating factor, as far as emotional development goes, between minecraft and real life? Both have comparable consequences to a person's actions as it regards other people's feelings.


My 10 year old daughter and 8 year old son are both deep in love with Minecraft, so I most certainly agree with that part. I also have the same disdain for Disney XD, with the same complaints as the linked -- they have truly terrible writing, and are just horrible social models.

I have to add a caveat about the Minecraft videos, however, in that many of them are just as bad or worse than tween shows. While some are just walkthroughs, a growing number are obnoxious cliche fests (e.g. screaming and yelling expletives when a creeper appears, etc). There is a large set of people trying to capitalize on kids watching minecraft videos.


I've seen a similar bifurcation where most minecraft videos are either really cool how to demos that focus on the game, or are extroverts trying to showcase their swearing and drinking abilities where the game is kind of a screensaver in the background as they act pretty much act like fools.

I've learned a lot from some minecraft youtube videos such as how to build an automatic chicken growing factory with water conveyor belts. Frankly I'd rather have spent 15 seconds looking at a blueprint than 15 minutes tediously watching a build, but still..


I think the awesome benefit of youtube is that you can leave direct feedback. Give it a thumbs down plus explain why.

Teach your kids to do that and eventually things will improve. Just don't expect that of Disney.


Yogscast (quite sweary British minecraft youtubes) have 4,806,098 subscribers and 1,931,000,000 video views.

This video [1] has 1,076,520 views, 49,507 up-thumbs and 808 down-thumbs, with over 7,000 comments. It's been up for about 24 hours at this point.

I fully support down-voting and commenting, but I'm not sure it's going to have any effect.

Luckily, there are plenty of other videos where decent attitudes are on show.

[1] (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_idfJmWRj3s&list=UUH-_hzb...)


"Please sign in to continue"

No.


You do not have to sign in to read articles.


Lame. She still doesn't really give a shit what her kids are doing so long as she doesn't get back talk.

Fuck you lady.


Obviously not a parent, either that or you're miraculously able to entertain your kid(s) 24/7.


It's perfectly OK and healthy for kids to be bored.


If she never played with her kids, I might agree with you. However, it seems a bit of a stretch to assume based just on that article.




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