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.
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.
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.
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:
There were tools...
I'll give it another try when I'm well-rested.
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. ;-)
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.
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.
In other words, it's the new 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".
I will stop by a toy store I have on my way to lunch today, and check out their offer of Lego (Legos? Legoes?).
So: kind of, but so much more.
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.
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.
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.
This turned into a lesson on always accepting gifts. It was awkward.
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.
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?
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.
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.
If the kids are really excited about logic gates, hunt down "Rocky's Boots" or one of its descendants.
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!
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?
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.
PS: People who live in brightly-coloured woolen houses shouldn't play with buckets of lava.
(translated from Russian)
a text editor with bright colors and large fonts is thousands of times better than magnetic letters.
You, sir, win!
More seriously, has she learnt how to read and type? Or does she like playing with letters on the screen?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Still, not everything Disney makes is bad, Phineas and Ferb is brilliant.
It's bad. The first video that came up on YouTube is an episode on the official Disney channel. 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.
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.
Sometimes dreck is just dreck.
1. Phineas and Ferb
Now these shows and senseless Japanese cartoons are flooding the TV. Phineas and Ferb is my only hope.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!).
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
And you're damn right. Parenting is not easy!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Man, you Americans are strange. goes back to eating his soup of sheep's stomach
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.
I read that for some people charges were not drop fast enough to not ruin their lives.
> 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.
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.
Many parents aren't willing to imagine their child having gone through that already, even if that's not actually what it means.
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!
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.
I'm pretty sure kids don't think about the way other people perceive things until much older than 8-9.
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.
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.
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".
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.
Direwolf's videos are instructive and fun, and his language is appropriate for kids. http://www.youtube.com/user/direwolf20
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 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".
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??
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.
So I did.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Meanwhile, the kids keep painting and building things, like they did when it first came out.
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.
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…
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".
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.
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 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.
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 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..
Teach your kids to do that and eventually things will improve. Just don't expect that of Disney.
This video  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.
Fuck you lady.