If your child likes playing video games, odds are you’ve at least heard a little about Minecraft already. Released in November 2011, it’s now the second best-selling video game in the world and has an estimated 600 million registered users.
With its immense popularity, kids are often really excited to start playing (and likely have friends who already play). But with the vast amount of things you can do in-game, parents commonly ask, ‘is Minecraft good for kids?’ We’ll cover all the basics of Minecraft, so you know what kids can do in the game and what to watch out for.
A Parent’s Guide to Minecraft for Kids
What is Minecraft?
Minecraft is known as a sandbox game, a video game that focuses on creativity and freedom of movement and often doesn’t have an objective. It’s also considered a massively multiplayer online game (MMOG or MMO), meaning the game hosts a large number of players on the same server. The entire world of Minecraft is basically infinite and it’s most easily recognized by its block-style design. Everything within Minecraft is made out of blocks, even characters and animals.
Kids flock to Minecraft because of the endless possibilities of what you can do in the game. You can build nearly anything you can imagine, customize your character, grow food, have pets, create weapons and wearable items, and go on adventures. You can even change how the entire game looks, but we’ll explain more about that a bit later.
How do you play Minecraft?
Minecraft is played both as a single player or multiplayer game, which involves playing with other people. Kids can play in five different game modes:
- Survival Mode
- Creative Mode
- Hardcore Mode
- Spectator Mode
- Adventure Mode
The two most popular modes are Survival and Creative.
- Survival mode is where players have to focus on building shelter and gathering food to be able to protect themselves and fight off mobs of monsters that spawn randomly throughout the game.
- Creative mode is meant purely for building. Players have access to basically all blocks and items, can’t die, and are able to fly.
- Hardcore mode, in the Java Edition, locks the world to Hard difficulty and the player cannot respawn after dying.
- Spectator mode, in Java and Legacy Console Editions, allows the player to fly around and observe the world without interacting with it in any way.
- Adventure mode is similar to survival, but you play on premade maps to complete quests and some features are more limited, such as breaking blocks.
Popular Minecraft Game Terms
These are your main opponents in survival mode. Mobs can be creatures, monsters, animals, insects, or villagers that attempt to kill your character or damage your items. In video games in general, “mob” is short for “mobile object,” which is a computer-controlled non-player character.
One of the most well-known mob characters is the creeper. These green creatures can spawn at any time or location throughout the game. They approach players and then ultimately explode, which can kill characters and damage the environment around them.
In all modes, Minecraft goes through day and night, and nighttime in survival mode is when mobs are most often to appear. In both modes, it’s important to craft weapons and tools, which allow you to harvest and gather items to build and fight back mobs.
Mining is also a big part of Minecraft, it’s a way to gather materials to use in survival mode. You can search to discover a mine that already exists or just start digging to create your own mine. Mining allows you to gather different types of stone, metal, and gems for building and crafting.
There’s a lot more to explore in Minecraft, too. As we mentioned before, the Minecraft world is basically infinite, and its landscapes are varied. Spend some time walking around and you’re likely to come across forests, deserts, oceans, jungles, snowscapes, and more. Each place has different animals, plants, and resources to mine or harvest.
Is Minecraft safe for kids?
While Minecraft can certainly be a safe game for kids, there are some important factors to consider before purchasing the game for your child. These include violence levels in the game, hand-eye coordination needed for building and mining, and possible interactions with other players.
Depending on the rating system you reference, Minecraft is recommended for kids starting between the ages of 8 and 10. The different modes and game versions of Minecraft mean that age appropriateness varies. The single player creative mode being the safest in general for kids.
What are the dangers of Minecraft?
The main dangers of Minecraft for kids involve multiplayer modes and possible interactions with strangers. These can be avoided altogether by choosing single player mode or playing multiplayer locally (where multiple players in the same house can play together). Survival mode involves some violence when killing mobs, but the violence depicted is fairly tame.
Playing multiplayer Minecraft on a public server exposes your child to interactions with strangers. Players can text chat with each other, but you can also hide the chat window. Your child’s experience on a public Minecraft server can vary greatly depending on the players who are online. Often the biggest risk is having other players steal or destroy items or buildings that your child may have put a lot of time and effort into.
Obviously with online multiplayer games there’s a risk for online bullying, scamming, and interactions with potential predators. Minecraft recognizes these risks and even offers a world through Minecraft Education Edition to help teach kids good Internet safety practices.
How to keep kids safe on Minecraft
If kids are in single player mode or on a local server, there really isn’t any need to worry about their safety. For kids who want to play Minecraft on public servers, there are steps parents can take to make sure their kids stay safe and have fun, too.
As with any online multiplayer game, it’s important that if your child does play on a public Minecraft server, that they understand basic online safety precautions. These include not sharing identifying information (their real name, age, address, phone number, etc.) and never sending money to anyone they meet in game.
Staying involved with what your child is doing in Minecraft is important, too. To protect your kids online, take an interest in what they’re doing in-game. If you don’t understand what they’re doing, have them explain and show you. Even better, take some time to play Minecraft with them. Staying involved makes your child more likely to come to you. If a problem arises while they’re playing, you’re more likely to understand what they’re telling you if you have some basic knowledge about Minecraft.
What age can kids play Minecraft?
Age recommendations for Minecraft vary, and the game does not require age verification before playing. Minecraft is definitely popular among elementary-aged kids, but how young is too young for this game?
Is Minecraft appropriate for a 5 year old?
Although age recommendations are different depending on the standard you review, none of them recommend Minecraft for 5-year-olds. In general, a 5 year old child might get bored with the open ended nature of Minecraft. They may also not have the hand-eye coordination needed to build in the game. If a parent is confident that their 5-year-old can handle Minecraft, single player in creative mode would definitely be recommended.
Is Minecraft OK for my 6 year old?
A 6-year-old who has played video games before may have the skills needed to play Minecraft and have fun. As a parent, take some time to familiarize yourself with Minecraft and how it’s played. That should give you a good idea of whether or not it’s appropriate for your child. However, this age is still too young for multiplayer mode on public servers due to safety concerns.
Is Minecraft good for 7 year olds?
Some game rating standards do recommend Minecraft for ages 7 and up. There is some mild cartoon violence in Minecraft in survival mode as players can kill animals for food and kill attacking mob characters. Parents who are concerned about this level of violence can stick with creative mode for their child. At this age, it is likely still best to stick to single player or local multiplayer games.
The Entertainment Software Rating Board, which has established ratings for video games in the United States since 1994, gives Minecraft an E10+ rating. This means they have rated the content as generally suitable for everyone ages 10 and up.
Can Kids Play Minecraft With Friends?
Playing video games with friends makes them even more fun! Minecraft offers several ways that kids can play with their friends in the same world.
If your child plays Minecraft on a gaming console, you can easily turn it into a multiplayer game with anyone else in the house using split screen. It may be a little distracting at times since you have to focus on your half of the screen, but it is the easiest way to play Minecraft with friends and there’s no risk of dealing with strangers. Alternatively, you can play a LAN game, which allows players on the same wifi network to play together, but this can be done with players using separate devices.
For kids wanting to play Minecraft with friends from a distance (meaning they aren’t in the same room or on the same wifi network), you can choose to host your own Minecraft server or play via Minecraft Realms. Both of these options involve some extra costs, but they are much more secure than playing on a public server.
Our article, How to Play Minecraft With Friends, goes into more detail about all of these options, the pros and cons of each, and how to set them up.
What are Minecraft mods?
Although Minecraft allows you to build anything you want and has tons of customizations built in, you can change the game even more with mods. Mods can do everything from adding new features or items or they can change the look of the game entirely. Many of the mods available are ideal for kids as well.
Mods do need to be downloaded and installed, and there are a couple of trusted websites for Minecraft mods. Learn more about how to download and install mods in Minecraft and how to uninstall them, too.
What are Minecraft servers?
A Minecraft server is what hosts a Minecraft world and allows multiple people to play in the same Minecraft world together. There are public servers, where basically anyone can join and play, and there are private servers. Private servers are typically set up and hosted by an individual person who then can control who can (and can’t) join their server. This is a great option for kids to be able to play Minecraft with their friends, but it does involve some work to set up.
To create a private server, you can either choose to rent a server through a third-party for a monthly fee, or you can run a server on your own. Find out what’s involved in running your own server and how to make a Minecraft server.
Can Kids Learn Coding with Minecraft?
There are many aspects of Minecraft that make it a great tool for teaching kids key concepts of coding. Redstone is one of the most common ways that kids can learn coding fundamentals, and they probably don’t even realize it! Redstone works like electrical wiring and helps kids build in-game items by using logic gates to control when the redstone is powered or unpowered.
Command blocks are another way kids can start to learn about programming through Minecraft. These special blocks execute console commands (commands that are typed in the chat box) when certain requirements are met. Using command blocks together with redstone starts the beginning of learning the concept of conditionals. Learn more about how Minecraft teaches kids coding.
While redstone and logic gates can unlock a whole new world of customization in Minecraft, they can be complicated to learn on your own. That’s why CodeWizardsHQ is introducing a new virtual coding camp for kids that teaches how to use redstone and logic gates and how these tie into engineering and coding. Over the course of one week, a live instructor will guide students through how redstone works and how to incorporate logic gates to harness the power of redstone. By the end of camp, students will have the skills to be able to build many exciting redstone projects in Minecraft.