Too much is never enough: managing a child's time playing Minecraft
"Minecraft." Merely mentioning the word in the presence of a typical school-age child will evoke an immediate and passionate response - often including a lengthy and highly detailed explanation of their latest "build" or in-world accomplishment. Minecraft is more than the latest game craze, it is a bonafide *PHENOMENON* that has captured the hearts and minds of children worldwide. They are collaborating, they are exploring, they are creating complex structures and learning about systems - all good things - but their appetite is nearly insatiable. The question becomes: how much Minecraft is too much?
I run an after-school Minecraft program for about 40 mostly elementary students and constantly get asked that question by parents. As a veteran of virtual worlds including Second Life, I know how powerful (and addictive!) an immersive 3D world can become. There is no "end," there is always someone "on," and there is always something to "make" or "do". In my experience, the QUALITY of the online time is the key - what the online user is LEARNING or ACCOMPLISHING. Problem is, most parents aren't able to easily make that determination, and as a result, feel uneasy when kids relentlessly ask for more and more time in-game.
So, I'm wondering: how do those of you with Minecraft-playing children structure or limit their time with the game? Is it considered "screen time" like anything else or do you treat it differently? Or do you have no rules at all? Let us know in the comments!