Minecraft or Mind Numbing?



Minecraft or Mind numbing?

Since working for One-Eighty, I have been introduced to the block world of Minecraft. The game is set in a virtual world of cubes that requires the player to create their own world out of different materials; dirt, rock, sand, lava etc. The player must then survive in that world by creating shelters and avoiding attacks from creepers, skeletons and zombie pigmen.

The game is growing in popularity and appears to be very popular with primary School aged boys. I have witnessed the game popularity 1st hand with 3 cases I have worked on recently. The boys are aged 8, 11 and 14; all of them I would argue are addicted to Minecraft.

Sat in front of a laptop or tablet, eyes glued to the screen; the outside world has been shut out and nothing is getting in unless absolutely necessary. Relationships with parents and peers begin to dwindle, time spent doing homework decreases, exercise ceases to exist.

This is not a game they are able to play for half an hour to an hour at a time, it is a game that they will spend 3, 4, 5 hours a day playing. Due to the complex nature of the game, lots of time will also be spent on YouTube watching videos of other people playing the game and giving instructions.

Worlds are created, new materials are discovered, and creepers are destroyed.

But the question must be asked… Is this a complete waste of time?

There are murmurings online that say that Minecraft promotes ‘teamwork and creativity’ as well as ‘teach kids geometry and a bit of geology.’[1]

However reading this, I am still not convinced of the ‘educational’ and ‘social’ benefits that Minecraft offers. I do believe that there are better activities both educational and social for young people to be involved in, that doesn’t require being stuck behind a computer screen and provides greater benefits for young people in the long term.

Extra-curricular activities provide opportunities for young people to explore their physical, creative and social interests with like-minded people. It is a chance to develop working skills, improve people skills and raise self-esteem; not only this, but they look good on CV’s and job applications.

‘Ultimately, there are countless opportunities for students to benefit through such activities.’[2]

Research also suggests that participating in extra-curricular activities will boost a young person’s exam results[3], which again highlights the importance of young people getting out and integrating themselves in a wide range of activities that are on offer.

So whether it’s cubs or brownies, swimming or athletics, dance or art groups, there is huge opportunity for young people to get out of the block world, into the real world and start reaping the benefits.


[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23572742

[2] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationadvice/10328847/Extra-curricular-activities-are-worth-the-extra-effort.html

[3] http://www.theguardian.com/education/2009/jun/03/extracurricular-activities-boost-gcses

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