Everything You Need to Know About Minecraft

Get the scoop on this incredible -- and incredibly absorbing -- game, from how to play, how to "speak Minecraft," and how to choose videos, games, and apps for every age. By Caroline Knorr
Everything You Need to Know About Minecraft

If your kid has been swept up in the Minecraft craze, you've probably come to realize that resistance is futile. It isn't only the game itself that kids obsess over. There are Minecraft YouTube videos, a whole Minecraft language, Minecraft-like games, and more.

Get the know-how you need to engage with your kid on one of the coolest games out there.

Minecraft Games Age Guide
One of the best-selling, independently developed and published video games, Minecraft immerses kids in creative thinking, geometry, and even a little geology as they build imaginative block structures. Here's the scoop on the games that make up Minecraft's offerings:

  • Minecraft, age 8; platforms: Linux, Mac, Windows, Xbox 360
    Minecraft is an open-ended, exploration- and creation-focused environment. Players can create items and buildings from scratch using materials they harvest from the world around them. Given carte blanche to sculpt virtually any creation of their choice in this 3-D space, kids can try tons of possibilities while working toward simple objectives. An option to work with others on larger building projects can help kids develop collaboration skills.
  • Minecraft - Pocket Edition, age 8; devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire
    Minecraft - Pocket Edition is a mobile version of the popular PC game. Players can build essentially anything in this game, so long as they're able to mine the appropriate resources.
  • Minecraft: Story Mode, age 10; platforms: Mac, Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One, iPhone
    Though part of the fun of Minecraft is creating the story as you go along, Story mode offers a story line, characters, and plot for kids who prefer a narrative. This game offers positive messages about teamwork and diplomacy, and its learning curve isn't as steep as the original.

Minecraft Basics 
Minecraft comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities for parents. Learn the lingo, discover the most important aspects of the game, and get tips on managing your kid's playtime.

Minecraft on YouTube
Since Minecraft is a game that spans many ages -- and has infinite possibilities -- not all YouTube videos will be appropriate for your kid. Here are some of our faves for young players.

  • Wonder Quest (for age 6+)
    This YouTube program is inspired by Minecraft, and its central character hails from creator Joseph Garrett's other Internet hit, Stampylonghead. The videos do an excellent job blending comedy, adventure, and quality educational content under the premise of its heroes' efforts to thwart a villain's plan and return a collection of gems to their town. There are even social lessons that promote cooperation, kindness, and perseverance. 

Games Like Minecraft
Because of its complexity, mild violence, and online community, we recommend Minecraft for kids age 8 and up. So what if your younger kids want to play but aren't quite ready? These games can occupy them with a very similar style, without some of the tougher stuff. (Check out our full list of games like Minecraft.)

  • Blox 3D Junior, age 5
    With a style similar to Lego and Minecraft, this app's 3-D creation environment empowers kids to create, encourages visual acuity, and fosters critical thinking.
  • The Robot Factory by Tinybop, age 6
    This exploratory app for early elementary school-age kids is tailor-made for players who love to create, design, and experience free play.
  • Toca Builders, age 6
    Toca Builders offers sandbox-style play where kids can create worlds. It's easier to pick up and play than Minecraft, and there's no fighting or monsters.
  • Hovercraft - Build Fly Retry, age 7
    Kids can learn about physics and problem solving as they design, test, and rebuild a hovercraft.

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About Caroline Knorr

As Common Sense Media's parenting editor, Caroline helps parents make sense of what’s going on in their kids' media lives. From games to cell phones to movies and more, if you're wondering "what’s the right age for…?"... Read more

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Comments (11)

Parent written by MG G.

I have become less and less comfortable with Minecraft the more my child plays it. Her behavior changes when on it for too long (i.e. as long as she wants to, which is continually). She also has been approached by strangers while playing the online multiplayer version. We decided to let her set up her own server, but then found that she wanted to seed it with a character with roots in satanic mythology (666). She didn't know the reference and was just trying to find a scary character. Minecraft may be an appropriate "game" in some cases, but I think it is far from vanilla and that parents don't really know all that their kids are doing on this game and in its larger community. Like many online games, this is a deliberately addictive universe. Use it at your own risk and make sure you know what your kids are doing on it.
Kid, 11 years old

minecraft is a Amazing game. It makes you want to Build amazing things. Do stuff you cant do In Real Life. Build traps and make amazing castles. houses.towns!. you can even play on a world with Friends!. I Love The Game. i would say a 7 year old could play it. Maybe even a 6 year old if they know how to Work a mouse. and some people Make Youtube Videos playing Minecraft!. 3 of my favorites are Captainsparklez (he swears sometimes not a lot tho) Ssundee (he doesnt swear) Mrcriner (he plays with Ssundee) and DanTDM (he plays Minecraft kids game. He NEVER swears he is a Kid YouTuber you could let your 4 year old watch him!)
Parent written by skydoesminecraftsuck

skydoesminecraft is not aprropriate for childern under 12. it has constant bad launguage and talk about sudecion and masterbastion and sex and in one episode he is completly naked while smoking "weed". he often plays in sexual based worlds and games.
Adult written by jaribo2

In addition to Arttie, many mods are free-will donation. I know some parents that have their children donate a dollar for any of these (it helps the developers). Also, if your child wants lots of mods, you can download many mods at once, you can download Feed the Beast. It has many modpacks that can be downloaded all at once. Some add technology or magic or agriculture. Be careful what packs you/they download though. Some add weapons that, while not realistic, some parents still don't want their children playing. And one more caveat, modpacks tend to be RAM hungry. You may have to lower video quality to play these.
Educator and Parent written by arttieTHE1manparty

Most mods are relatively cheap and are downloadable directly through the gaming platform they are using (i.e. XBox). I have never experienced any corrupt or dangerous mods through Minecraft when downloading them for my nine-year old son (which is not the case with other games). My wife and I decided that if he wants to download a mod, HE has to pay for it from his birthday/Christmas/chore money, although we will occasionally surprise him by springing for a $1.99 download or something. Arttie
Adult written by jaribo2

I agree. My roommates 5 year old would beg to play it on my computer and then build atrocious buildings. But he had fun and it was better than other games he could be playing.

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