My nine-year-old boy is scared at bedtime these days, for the first time in his life. He thinks there are monsters around his bed.
Weʼre at the cottage for most of the summer, where he sleeps in the same room as his 11-year-old sister. Her company fails to comfort him. Even our Labradoodle guard dog at the foot of his bed provides insufficient safety for him. Too many thoughts of monsters, he says.
It took a while for us to figure out, but itʼs the hours spent playing Minecraft that have spawned this nuisance in our routine. Specifically, itʼs the monsters, skeletons, creepers, spiders, and zombies — in the gameʼs Survival mode — that are stealing an easy bedtime from my little boy (and us!)
So it was high time for me to learn a bit more about the online video game that was using up so much of our household wi-fi and dominating the attention of the kids. During some hands-on learning, I found that this video game has some great things going for it: endless possibilities for adventure, creativity, and imagination. It is like a virtual and infinite box of Lego, and users can create and work together in an exciting community. Players can plant crops, and raise livestock. They can fly through the universe, and swim in the deepest parts of the oceans. The never-ending game can be customized for degrees of violence, and there is no blood or gore. In the Creative mode, players are invincible. I can see why this is game is so exciting for my 9-year-old player.
Then I talked to my son about his use of the game. “Do you think youʼre learning anything from Minecraft?”
He shrugs. “A little bit. Itʼs a really creative game.” I prod a bit. “So at night after youʼve played for a little while, is it hard to get to sleep?”
A big smile appears on his face. “Itʼs stuck in my head! I wanna play it more….and, it might scare some people………”
Going forward my husband and I will have to enforce our “screen time” limits and schedule more effectively! Iʼll also insist that my son plays only in the Creative mode — the one without all the monsters, zombies, darkness, spiders — when itʼs close to bedtime.