Son: “Mom, I need your iPad.”
Me: “Why? Are you finished playing XBox?”
Son: “I need to look something up on the iPad so I can play Minecraft.”
Me: Confused look
So, this is the new thing. You don’t just play a video game anymore. One gaming device is not enough. Children are now watching videos on YouTube of other kids (usually teenagers and college-age boys) playing video games. Yes, you heard correctly – they watch videos of people playing video games. This is the adult equivalent of watching someone watch a TV show. It makes no sense to me. Yet, the littles are mesmerized by these teenage gamers running from Minecraft zombies or Mario racing away in his little cart.
I mention Minecraft because it’s particularly popular with little kids and adolescents. I’m not necessarily opposed to this video game because it requires kids to use their imagination to create a world that is uniquely their own. They build LEGO-esque houses, landscapes, and other structures, and must use some judgement when deciding to go inside to protect themselves from zombies and giant man-eating spiders. All well and good. But watching videos of other kids playing videos? This is an entirely new phenomenon. A quick scan on YouTube finds that there are more than 70 million (!!!) Minecraft related videos! Some offer gaming tips, others offer ideas for creating your own Minecraft worlds, and there are also a few silly parody songs and skits. Probably harmless enough, right. But parents should still beware – these videos start harmless enough, but soon start to sound like an R-rated soundtrack. I learned the hard way – I walked into the room to hear a stream of colorful language emitting from my iPad. Needless to say, the access code was changed immediately.
If your kids are obsessed with Minecraft and NEED to watch these tutorials, I can recommend a series developed by a dad and Minecraft gamer, Paul Soares, Jr. The videos are informative and contains no vulgar language.
Or you could just give your kids a bucket of LEGO and a video camera and see what they come up with on their own!