Kids and Minecraft Chat
January 14, 2015 8:38 AM   Subscribe

Should I let my 8-year-old onto any public Minecraft servers?

My kid loves playing Minecraft, loves watching Stampy Longnose and Diamond Minecart, and desperately yearns to play some of the multiplayer games she's seen in videos, like the ones at The Hive. Is this an OK idea, a bad idea, a terrible idea?

I know there's chat on Minecraft. She swears up and down she would never, never look at chat unless she has to vote on something and then she'd go in and out as fast as she can, so she doesn't "see bad words." I'm more concerned about trolls and to a lesser extent about her giving out personal information in a fit of innocence and enthusiastic friend-making. Though we've had talks about Bad People on the Internet. But just how worried should I be? Are some public servers better than others? Is there any moderation anywhere?

I don't think her peers have their own shared servers set up, but even if they did, they wouldn't have the elaborate games that she so badly wants to play, so "make your own shared server" is really not the solution she wants.
posted by Andrhia to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have an Xbox?

Stampy does most of his "lovely world" videos on Xbox vs. the "full" version of Minecraft, and I've recently started transferring Minecraft maps from the web to our Xbox for my son to play with a couple of friends. One big advantage of doing this is that Xbox online games aren't really "public" - you just invite a couple of trusted people to play the map with you. The downside is that there are fewer people who play on Xbox, so there is a smaller pool of fellow players to coordinate with.
posted by anastasiav at 8:44 AM on January 14, 2015

Can you monitor her while she's on the public servers?
posted by sparklemotion at 8:44 AM on January 14, 2015

You may find this article helpful for some places to start:

11 Family-Friendly Minecraft Servers Where Your Kid Can Play Safely Online
posted by liquado at 8:49 AM on January 14, 2015 [6 favorites]

If she's watching Minecraft vids on YouTube, she's already hearing "bad words" that aren't censored in those videos.

The chat is actually pretty tame, and any "bad words" are replaced with "******" so I wouldn't be too worried about that. I'm totally sympathetic to concerns about predators, but everything I've seen is a jumble of kids being kids and the occasional, "My mom said I have to go."

If you're worried about trolls or predators, you could tell her to let you know IF someone tries to send her a direct message.

I hate watching over my son's shoulder, mostly because I get bored and/or "carsick" from watching a screen where he's driving. Still, I've been with him for a while on several servers, and frankly just haven't found anything frightening.

We did eventually set up a server, but of course my son still wants to (and does) play on others. So I'd say sparklemotion has it right. Monitor her for a while (mostly in a "show me around this world" kind of way). If you see anything objectionable, you've stumbled upon a great teaching moment. We'll have less and less ability to see what our kids do online, and this is something they like to share, so get in there while you're still welcome--what you do and don't like seeing in a chat is likely to be noticed and remembered by an 8-yr-old.

Really, I'd be far more wary of what she's watching about minecraft than what she'll see while playing. (So maybe join her when she's watching stuff too... just here and there... and without pre-planning, so she's not showing you ones she knows are tame.) Seriously, Stampy Longnose is one dude... lots of others are foul-mouthed gamers--I find the vids more bothersome than any server I've seen.
posted by whoiam at 9:07 AM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

You can set up a lot of minigames on Realms, the official server solution from the company that actually makes Minecraft. It's easy enough to switch from a game back to a normal world, and it's accessible via an invite-only whitelist by default. Unless you're broke enough that $13/month isn't viable, I'd consider it well worth the cost until she's a bit older. 8 just seems really, really young to be playing on open servers.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 9:11 AM on January 14, 2015

You child is reaching the age where it will be more and more difficult to shield her from the most profane things in the world. Soon, she will see her first R rated movie. Soon, curiosity will kick in and she will google search something you won't expect.

Online gaming is a common place for children, usually early teens to experiment with freedom of expression and emotion. Those young teens do as much profanity as possible in game, and they might try to crudely construct profane things online out of large blocks.

I think that I would make a short curriculum of different dangers and watch-outs from the internet. Topics to be covered: phishing. Ways strangers try to get passwords. Ways strangers try to get money. Ways strangers try to get personal information. What specific personal information you can, and can not give out. What porn is. What sex is. What swearing is. Why some people may be rude. What a good online community looks like. What a troll is. What a flame war is. What it looks like when people become too invested in an online economy.

Then, after discussing that, I would give her free reign online. What age this all happens is up to you.
posted by bbqturtle at 9:11 AM on January 14, 2015

There's a family-friendly server called Intercraften. When Kid BlahLaLa was very into Minecraft (around ages 9-10) this was the place I let him play. It was very tightly moderated.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:13 AM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Naughty words are not censored in chat, unless that specific server has been modded to do so.

Similarly, individual servers can be closely moderated, not moderated at all, or anywhere in between. Every server has its own culture, rules, and community style.

I don't think her peers have their own shared servers set up, but even if they did, they wouldn't have the elaborate games that she so badly wants to play, so "make your own shared server" is really not the solution she wants.

I'm not 100% sure what you mean by "elaborate games". Can you explain? Maybe even provide a link or two?

If you're at all skilled with computers and Internet stuff, it's fairly easy to set up your own Minecraft server at RedstoneHost, for a reasonable monthly fee.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 2:00 PM on January 14, 2015

If you'd like your kid to be able to play elaborate games on her own server and invite her friends to play, Minecraft Realms (which is Mojang's official server product) does exactly this. They've preloaded minigames onto the server product that you can select at start time. The games are made by the community (SethBling, Xisumavoid, etc).
posted by xyzzy at 4:19 PM on January 14, 2015

My son just turned 9 and we've been letting him play online minecraft stuff for a couple years. I'm guessing you mean "hunger games", hide & seek, stuff like that?

He has to ask us to play, and we find out what server or site or whatever it is that he wants to play on. I google the server rules and read them to him - just hitting the high points. He can read of course, but I just want him to hear me say, hey if you do or say X, that's not ok and you might get banned. I also make sure that there ARE rules that I agree with. Most minecraft servers seemed to have really similar rules.

My concern is not swear words necessarily but racist and sexist name calling. Some servers specifically say keep it PG13, so like crap, hell, damn is OK, but most are really family friendly in their policies anyway. The few times I've watched, the chat happens so fast it's hardly readable.

There was one server where people didn't follow the rules and there was no enforcement, mostly about not griefing. After he had a bunch of stuff burned for the nth time, he gave up on that game - if your kid wants a fun, happy experience playing minecraft, and it's a cesspool, my feeling is they will self-regulate and move on to a different experience.
posted by peep at 11:11 AM on January 15, 2015

« Older iTunes bugs mix the bourgeoisie and the rebel   |   Is there real science behind fire cider? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.