I always thought I’d be the cool ‘fun’ mom. I’m young, I play video games, I love superheroes. I’m the full awesome mom package! When my 1st grader came to me last year and asked for Pokemon cards I gladly passed down my collection of first gens and holographics. I was so proud when he asked for Lego Star Wars for his birthday while my youngest asked for Lego Batman.
And then there was Minecraft.
I didn’t think much of it when my son asked to download it on his iPad because the kids at school played it. So I got it for both of them (4 and 6 at the time) and it might have been the worst decision I’ve ever made.
Ok, not really, but there are (many many) times I feel that way.
I have a love-hate relationship with Minecraft. The love comes from the amount of imagination it takes to create the things I see my kids creating. The first week of having it, my 4 year old showed me a house he built. And I mean a structurally sound house, fully furnished and decorated all the way up to the wallpaper type.
If I was a cartoon character my jaw would have been on the floor. I’ve seen them make fully working railroads, castles, underground mines, farms, and more.
However, I’ve also seen them spend ten minutes chasing pigs.
And that’s where the hate comes from. The time spend on that game is astronomical but because there is no real goal or mission so it can be played indefinitely.
Every parent I know whose kids play says they are obsessed with Minecraft. That obsession is the reason for 99% of tantrums for us. It’s the one thing they cry about when told they can’t play or have to stop.
It got so bad last year I took away their iPads for the entire summer because they didn’t want to go outside. We’ve found a balance of some sort now, but Minecraft still rules their conversations and (non-screen) play.
Now I remember, I was -that- kid (though I was 11 when we got our first computer). I would spend hours playing Roller-coaster Tycoon and Heroes of Might and Magic. My parents would “ground” me by kicking me outside to play.
And of course I told myself that when I have kids, I will let them play video games as much as they want to.
And now I’m eating my words from a bitter pixelated pickaxe.