How Much Minecraft is Too Much

minecraft, video games, computerMy 9 year old son loves minecraft and plays at least 2 hours a day. I try to limit the play to no more than 2 hours. My husband loves to play too and doesn’t have a problem with my son playing “without limits” because it’s such a good game. It’s causing a lot of stress in our house. Should I keep trying to rein it in or is it harmless and should be seen as an “educational activity” that he sometimes shares with his dad?

Linda, in MA

Minecraft is a great game! This game teaches planning and building, emphasizes creativity and problem-solving. Minecraft teaches kids to think about the computer as a place to effect change, not only rack up points. Sharing this game with his dad is certainly a powerful advantage for your son.

All that said, you’re right.

Screen time matters. There is such a thing as too much Minecraft.

I believe we have to stop counting up “screen time” and take a slightly more in-depth look at our kids and media. So think of it like nutrition.

Your husband is saying, “This is not junk food.” And he is correct! Sponge Bob is junk food. YouTube might be junk food or might be healthy. Minecraft is what my kids call a “broccoli game.”

Parenting matters too.

So why do I think you’re right? Balance. Children (and many of us adults) need to learn balance. For his computer time, if he wants to play Minecraft? Great! But he shouldn’t spend all of his free time on the computer. He needs to read, and to run, and to relate with people in real life, as well.

When you discuss this with your husband, here are my suggestions:

  • Validate his point of view. This is “nutritious” screen time.
  • Compare this to a healthy food. Playing this game is comparable to eating low-fat sliced turkey. But we would not want him to eat even low-fat sliced turkey for every meal and several snacks a day.
  • Discuss balance. What would your husband like to see your son do in addition to this?
  • Keep time played with his Dad as separate, protected time. Meaning that he can play 2 hours a day on his own and play Minecraft with his Dad whenever they’d like. That’s bonus time.

If your husband sees that you value this hobby, it may be much easier for him to see your point of view.

 

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