The “Technology Use Guidelines for Children and Youth” were developed by a panel of experts, with contribution from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Pediatric Society. The guidelines recommend that teenagers 13 to 18 should engage in no more than two hours of technology per day. They do not make an exception for really, REALLY fun games or even educational games.
Even educational games can be strangely addictive. One of the most popular games right now is Minecraft. This seemingly harmless game gets a lot of positive attention due to its ability to promote creativity and imagination, but there is a darker side to it. Many parents whose children are deeply involved in Minecraft report that its addictive properties are unlike anything they have ever experienced.
You will discover many such stories through a quick internet search on “Minecraft Addiction.” Amazing, isn’t it? Page after page of articles and columns with titles such as, “Help, My Child is Addicted to Minecraft” and “How do I get my son to reduce his addiction to Minecraft?” Parents, tread carefully here. Even seemingly wholesome games can be detrimental to your children’s development.
Minecraft is an extremely popular game. Parents are being pushed hard by their children to allow early usage of it. There are violent components to it and there are wonderful components, what Andy Doan, a colleague of Cris Rowan's terms “digital broccoli” and “digital candy.” You have the positive part of Minecraft, the construction, the building … it’s an amazing game and it could be pro-social.
Sit down and play the game with your children, and see if you can work out some management tools, steering them toward the more pro-social aspects of the game. Ask yourself, “Is my child social? Do they have friends? Do they go outside and play? Do they get along with their siblings? Do they sit down and eat dinner, and have a social conversation with the rest of the family? Is their development okay? Is their academic performance okay?”
If for all of these questions, you’re thinking, “check, check, check,” then your child might be one who benefits from some aspects of Minecraft. If the reverse is the case, and your child is becoming asocial or antisocial (they don’t want to go out anymore, they don’t have any friends, they’re grumpy all the time, angry, they’re not wanting to come to the dinner table and socialize with the rest of the family, all they want to do is play video games) then you have a problem brewing.
The Technology Use Guidelines include even the hours spent on Minecraft - even the hours for school. You want your children to have a technology balance, so they can experience a full childhood and full education as well as have fun with things they love.