My 2 oldest kids (11 & 10) have been into the world of Minecraft and Worldcraft on their Kindles. The game seems innocent enough and from the research I’ve done prior to downloading the game for them, all seemed fine and age appropriate, that is until last night.
Minecraft seems to be the “it” game lately. I’ve seen it everywhere and it’s hugely popular with kids and teens. I’ve watched both my kids explain certain aspects of the game to me, teaching me how they build their houses or castles and navigate around the world that they’ve create. In fact, there’s a huge sense of accomplishment from what’s they’ve been able to put together and design, from what I’ve read on the internet about it, even a lot of teachers and parents are big fans of it. There is even a website dedicated to bringing the game into the classroom to “engage and educate“.
It all seems innocent but last night I got a huge wake-up call. My daughter was playing the game and I noticed that there was a chat feature in the multi-player option of the game. I thought that she had been playing with her brother when I saw that he wasn’t on his… the red flag went up and I asked to see her Kindle. Apparently, she had been playing in multi-player which automatically connects you to the chat. The purpose is play with other kids on the same server in the same world that you’re creating.
Sounds OK, doesn’t it?
Let me explain why it’s everything but OK… anything that our kids use that connects to the internet in our house has parental controls. They can’t download, surf the web, view anything without my approval and password. Those are the rules of our house and they understand it and have so far been following the them. It’s important to explain to them why we have those rules set in place and have an open discussion about the dangers of being exposed online, especially as children. There are enough dangers as adults that we have to be aware of and children might not understand.
I assumed that even using a game that connects to the internet would not allow them to “chat” or surf the web without my consent. I was wrong, and no where online does it specify this in the description of the game. I’ve done my research.
Somehow they were allowed to connect and get into any “server” or what I like to call a chat room, because essentially that’s what it is. She has been chatting with other people, anyone who plays this game and the conversation from what I saw was not kid-friendly. It was everything but. Even the names of the rooms were awful, like Seeexxxtime, Single Girls, and some others less questionable rooms like Lonewolf and Hungergames4.
If this is a kid friendly, age appropriate game, then why was the conversation about sex, drugs, foul language, bullying, and violence? This is exactly why I have parental controls. i have no doubt that some of the individuals participating in the game were kids but how does one know that there’s not an adult pretending to be kids? I quickly got online after discovering what was going on to see if there were any other reports of this happening to other families. The only thing that kept coming up were suggestions that kids under 10 should not be playing, and the reason was because there were some seems that could be scary, like attacks from other characters. To me, there is way more to this than the regular game play.
Do parents not know what the conversation is in multi-player? I can’t believe this would continue if they knew.
After doing some extensive research I found that there is way to create a private server and play in the multi-player mode with people you know. After everything I don’t think that would be an option for us. We talked to both our children in depth about the dangers of the situation and came to the conclusion that this game was going to be deleted and not played again.
My husband and I may have different rules for our kids and it’s possible that some parents would consider us to be overly protective, but after seeing the discussions in multiple rooms on the game we didn’t want to take the chance of our kids being exposed to situations and ideas that they’re just not ready to see.
My hope is that other parents would read this and do their own research on it and take a moment to view all the modes of the game before allowing their kids to play it, and don’t always count on parental controls as the end all be all of safety on the web.