How old should a child be when he begins using Minecraft?

kidwithMinecraftI remember when my 10-year-old son asked me if he could download “Minecraft.” I asked him what it was and he answered, “The online version of Legos.” I laugh now thinking about it, because “Minecraft” is more complicated than Legos. 

Here’s some of what parents need to know: “Minecraft” (2009) is likened to Legos in that it’s a game that emphasizes building and thinking creatively.

You can play “Minecraft” on a mobile device, computer or interactively online, and “Minecraft” fan communities are growing.

Team building occurs online when players share creations and discuss (through chat sessions) how to build together or take down other people’s creations. They “team up” to overcome or steal from other players, thus positive and negative interactions can occur.

But when played online, “Minecraft” allows players to interact with strangers, some of whom are adults. Using a “chat” feature, they interact with their friends, yet may also gang up with strangers to fight off “monsters.” Players can set up their own place (server) that is “invite-only” using a private server, a task only an IT person can achieve.

“Minecraft” isn’t known for its scary graphics and gory violence. Still, there are monster images and sounds that could frighten younger children who don’t know about the game or haven’t before seen the images,  which is why it is not recommended for children under 13 to play online unless it is in the presence of a supervising adult. It may be appropriate for children ages 7 to 9 to play offline, in a downloaded version, if parents disable the monsters and set the difficulty level to PEACEFUL in the options menu.

And as with any gaming system, I have concerns that it can be addictive. It’s best for parents to access resources such as to learn more about “Minecraft” (,

Parents should know about “Minecraft” and other video games before their children use them. Allow your children to play online only when you can supervise, and know who’s on their server. Limit the number of hours they play. Like any addictive Internet or video game, too much “Minecraft” can create an increasingly negative attitude and behavior in your child. So set limits.