A few months ago my son and I were?interviewed for a segment on the TV news program,?The Project – Minecraft Mayhem

My son has been obsessed with the online game for a couple of years.

He will wake before dawn so that he can build a new world before breakfast. Afternoon tea is shovelled into his mouth as he battles Enders, zombies and invading hordes of ?spiders. New landscapes appear before dinner. He speaks a new language, much of which means nothing to me!

A couple of online friends have been made, including Diego, a boy of the same age, who lives in America.

Being a gadget-loving but incompetent computer user, it’s a whole new world to me!

Pac Man and Space Invaders were my introduction to computer games. A brief fling with Temple Run a couple of years ago was my next interaction and I’m still hopeless!

I spend?hours on Facebook and YouTube yet had a problem seeing the value of online games for my son.

Battles in our off-line, real world often involve me confiscating the devices he plays on.

Time for a re-think.

Deciding that there are better things to fight about, I researched and observed some of the benefits of Minecraft.

  • I?don’t like?to admit it, but Minecraft?does make a good babysitter when I’m busy! We have some time limits and location agreements (mostly the dining room table unless he’s recording for his YouTube channel).
  • My son has?to read and write quite a lot while he’s playing – probably not the homework his teacher would like but better than nothing!
  • Creating new worlds, new buildings, new environments and such requires lots of thinking skills, logic, mathematics, etc, as well as developing his creativity
  • Playing in battles helps him to build and implement a strategy as well as having to adapt quickly to changing conditions.
  • Battles also help with hand-eye coordination, quick thinking and quick reflexes
  • He has had to learn about online safety.
  • New friendships have been made – I remember having a pen pal decades ago and this isn’t really much different, just more immediate
  • New research skills have been learned – learning how to do new things, watching online tutorials, searching for information
  • My son started?his own YouTube channel so that he could record and post the things he has been doing. To do that he had to research, learn and implement a whole new set of skills.

I’m sure the list will continue to grow.

Now I need to learn the language so we can communicate better!