How To STOP Your Child’s Minecraft Addiction
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Transcript for How To STOP Your Child’s Minecraft Addiction:
Today I am going to give you 5 tips to help, parents!
First, I think it is important to understand WHY your child loves Minecraft. Every behavior your child does has a motive. What are they getting out of Minecraft or videogames in general? By starting with this explanation, I believe you will have a much better knowledge base to make your parenting decisions surrounding video games in your household. You’ll have a better idea of what time limits should be and how you can complement video games with other activities.
Parents must understand that Minecraft is addictive because it allows players to set their own goals and encourages them to work at those goals until completion. Some goals are short-term, and others are long-term. This combination of personal goal setting can make it difficult for kids to find a place to stop. It is also a really important part of the game to sustain attention on one task for an extended time. Suppose kids want to build something large and complicated. In that case, they will have to stay on a particular task through numerous different steps and processes. This can take a child’s hours. This game is also quite addictive because, to build something big and cool, they’ll have to watch videos on how to do it. Supplemental videos are more than entertainment for the child. They are also learning how to build new things. They are getting ideas for new creations. They are learning how to execute an architectural plan.
As you can see, Minecraft isn’t all bad if you look at it from the perspective of kids are learning how to stay on task through multi-step processes and learning how to build from the ground level up. Having said this, there are other things about Minecraft, and video games in general, that make too much play unhealthy. Children get addicted to videogames because it suppresses negative emotions and releases dopamine (the chemical in your brain that makes you feel happy). Suppose kids are feeling sad, scared, upset, or anxious. In that case, video games limit these feelings and replace them with happy feelings. Kids will complete a task, find a rare mining gem, or win a war, and suddenly those bad feelings are replaced with feelings of accomplishment. Although this sounds like a good thing, it can quickly be negative when your child no longer can read books because video games are so much more stimulating. It is also a problem when children develop Alexithymia, an inability to control or identify their emotions. Children haven’t dealt with their sadness, fears, or anxiety. Instead, they have only masked their problems away with the video game dopamine.
Lastly, many kids turn to video games for the community. Some children don’t have friends in real life. They get bullied at school or don’t connect with their peers. Minecraft, and many other videogames, give children online communities they can relate with. Minecraft allows players to collaborate and build things together as a team. Friendships are formed, and kids soon get a feeling of belonging in their videogame community.
All of these reasons mentioned so far, PLUS the fact that Minecraft has no real beginning and end to the game structure- makes it extremely difficult for kids to stop. The result is sometimes endless games and hours of screen time.
So now that you know WHY your child might be addicted to Minecraft, you can now formulate a plan to help your child keep videogame boundaries!
Tip #1: Start the conversation. Ask your child why they think they love Minecraft so much. Ask them about some of the things listed above. Make them aware of why they might be addicted to the game. Talk about the importance of a balanced lifestyle.
Tip #2: Encourage your child to get off the Minecraft screen by making non-video game activities enticing. This may cost you some money, but many kids don’t go outside and play by themselves. They need you to enroll them into a basketball league or tennis lessons. You have to take the initiative and take your kids to the park, the museum, or a baseball game. Until non-video game activities become a habit, you’ll have to help your child get engaged.
Tip #3: Talk about the game. Ask your child about their Minecraft goals and what they are building. Help him set “breaks” when it seems appropriate. Kids don’t automatically know how to put the game down and pace themselves. They need YOU to help them learn these skills. Talk about how to take a break after finishing building a wall or other game structures or teach them how to find a safe place to hide from the monsters so they can log off for 15 minutes. Teaching your child how to take breaks and pace their project building is a great skill for them to learn. Help your child find places to stop and rest. Help them identify when they have been working too much so they can take a break. These skills will help them as an adult too when they have big projects at work.
Tip #4: Before they even start the game, talk about how long they can play. Give your child a 5, 10, or 15-minute warning when time is almost up. I am also a big fan of visual countdown timers. I think kids respond better to transitions and ending activities when they can visually see the time left on the clock. These visual timers are easily found on Amazon for purchase.
Tip #5: After you have had the conversation with your child about why they love Minecraft, start the conversation about new rules and new boundaries. Talk about the time limits you want to set and the consequences of not abiding by the rules. Also, talk about rewards your child can have for maintaining good screen-time boundaries and following the rules. I feel it is important to reward and set consequences for a child in combination. Don’t just make consequences and punishments. Kids respond better when parents use both punishments and incentives.
Don’t forget to talk about the consequences of meltdowns too. Just like any other addictive substance, your child will feel bad when they have to turn off the screen. Expect a rough transition in the beginning. And finally, be prepared to take away Minecraft privileges if they don’t listen. You’ll have to hold your ground and prepare for the tantrum, but you want your child to know that you are serious about the new boundaries. Just remember to reinstate the reward system when eventually they get their Minecraft privileges back.