A Parent’s Guide to Playing Minecraft With Kids

When your child takes an interest in a popular phenomenon, there is usually not much to understand – you just help him turn on the video and add the toys to his birthday wish list. But it’s a little trickier when your child comes home and insists they need to play Minecraft. You have a lot to learn.

If you’re nervous about letting your child log into the server with other people, it can be helpful to know that they don’t need to. Below we will discuss how to set up a multiplayer world, but there are many ways to do this while keeping the world private. Minecraft is a lot of fun in single player mode too. If you end up introducing your child to public servers, you probably want to talk to them about internet safety , and it might be a good idea to play with them first.

Select platform and install the game

Each platform has its own version of Minecraft. The cheapest and easiest to install is the Minecraft Pocket Edition app. It’s $ 6.99 on iOS and Android . After installing it, you simply click Play, create a world – and that’s it.

The Pocket Edition has a limited set of inventory items and commands. You can still do a ton of fun stuff, but the game currently lacks big boss monsters to fight and you don’t have access to some of the lesser used items. A mobile app will do almost everything you can think of, but if you want the ultimate in flexibility and physically the largest worlds, go for the desktop version. However, we are assuming that your child is likely to prefer the platform you buy and install on.

The traditional and most fully functional way of playing is on a computer with a version that runs on Windows, Mac, or Linux . The software is free to download, but a one-time fee of $ 26.95 is required to create an account. The program will not start until you are logged in.

Minecraft is also available for Xbox 360 and Xbox One, PlayStation 3 and 4, Wii U, and several other console and mobile platforms at varying prices ranging from $ 20 to $ 30, with licenses available either via direct download or physical media. copies, whichever you prefer. Once you’ve installed the version of Minecraft of your choice (or your child’s choice), create a single player world to get started and start exploring.

Explore the controls

Even if your child will be engaged in the gameplay, you will want to learn how to move and use objects in the game. I can’t count how many times a kid asked me how to do something, I googled and confidently gave them an answer, and then felt a little clueless when they handed me the device and said, “Show me how.”

On a computer, the w, a, s, and d keys determine the direction in which you are walking, and the position of the mouse determines where you are looking. Left-clicking destroys the block; right-clicking places the block you are holding. Likewise, interact with objects with a single click: left-click to hit, right-click to use an object. So, for example, take a bone and right click on a dog to give the dog a bone. Left click to stab the dog with the bone.

The space bar allows you to jump, and in creative mode (more on that below) you can fly. Double-tap the space bar to start flying, and tap it again to climb higher. Shift brings you down, and another double space bar brings you down to the ground.

On a touchscreen device, you’ll have arrow buttons on the left side of the screen for walking and a separate button for jumping or flying on the right. Swipe your finger across the screen to look around. Place blocks by touching and destroy them by pressing and holding. You can use some items by pressing, others by pressing and holding, and still others by looking for a special button that appears at the bottom of the screen. For example, if you are holding an apple and approaching a horse, there will be a feed button. You can find out more about all the different controls for all different platforms in the official Minecraft Wiki .

To manage your inventory, press “e” on your keyboard (on the desktop) or press the “…” button next to the row of nine empty fields at the bottom of the screen (on a mobile device). Scroll to see what you’ve picked up if you’re playing in survival mode. In creative mode, you can also search and flip through hundreds of items that you choose. By the way, those nine empty boxes? This is your “hot bar” for easily accessible objects. You can drag and drop items from your inventory into them to use them quickly, for example with one touch or a keystroke, which will come in handy later.

So what you doing?

So what are you doing in Minecraft anyway? What is your child trying to achieve when he plays for hours on the computer? In fact, you already know the answer: you mine blocks from your environment and use them to create new things. Imagine walking through a world made of Lego bricks as far as the eye can see. You can break a block off the ground, from a tree, anywhere, and then you can use the collected blocks to make something new.

In survival mode, you find yourself on the land of Minecraft with literally nothing. You can karate chop the world with your hand by collecting blocks from earth and wood. You can make a pickaxe out of wood and use it to mine stone. Then you can make the best pickaxe out of stone. In the meantime, it’s best to create a shelter before dark, because that’s when the monsters come out. If they catch you, you will die:

Minecraft survival can be challenging and fun, but young children are often more interested in creating things, spawning animals, and exploring the different types of objects that exist in the universe. (Honestly, neither can I.) You can do all of this without fear of being killed by the Creepers if you play your game in creative mode. This means that you have no damage or hunger meters, you can fly and have as many as you want. Diamond armor? Golden apples? Potions that allow you to see in the dark? All is yours!

Interesting things to try with your kids

Here are a few things you can do right now. They are easy to create and possible (if you can gather materials) in survival. The best thing is that if you are new to the game you can make them yourself, or if you install for your kids or play with them they are fun for everyone involved.

  • Watch the sunset : every 20 minutes a new day begins in Minecraft. You get 10 minutes of daylight, 90 seconds of twilight, seven minutes of the night, and another 90 seconds for sunrise. It is beautiful.
  • Watch in the dark : If a small child starts crying for seven minutes out of every 20 minutes while playing, now you know why. After dark, simply take the Night Vision Potion from your inventory. On a computer, you can search for items by name; on mobile, scroll until you find. It is dark blue. Right click or press and hold to drink the potion.
  • Change your skin: The gameplay is usually in the first person, but if other players are nearby, they will be able to see you. You can also switch views while playing and see yourself in a third person. If you would like to change your look, visit minecraftskins.net where you can choose a new skin. Click Edit to customize it to your liking, or if you’re playing the desktop version, click Edit to submit it to your Minecraft account servers. (Your skin counts as part of your account profile.) If you are playing on mobile, download the skin and save it to your device’s photo library. Then you can change your skin right in the game.
  • To Train The Wolf : No Wolves? Look in your inventory for a spawn wolf egg. It does exactly what you think it does. Feed one of your new wolves a bone and he will follow you and ooze hearts. After the wolf has been tamed, he wears a red collar and becomes a dog. Don’t hit your dog with a bone. When someone is hurt, they attack like a flock.
  • Ride the Pig : Keep the carrots on a stick and all the pigs will follow you. Put the saddle on the pig and then you can ride it . The pig will constantly walk, but you can use the mouse as usual. To stop the pig, take the carrot and stick it out of your hand.
  • Teleport : If you play with your kid in multiplayer mode, he is almost guaranteed to go away. If you type a forward slash, you find that you can enter commands. It is convenient to use / teleport , or / tp for short, followed by your child’s player name. You will teleport directly to where they are.
  • Build a lighthouse : Especially in survival mode, you’ll want to find a way to get back to your home. Build from earth or whatever you have into a tall tower that you can see from afar. While there are other ways to find your way home, if you get lost , this is the easiest one.

I learned all of these tricks from my 6 year old son, who in turn learned them by watching YouTube. As an adult, you might not have noticed, but roughly half of YouTube is just videos of people playing Minecraft. You can find a guide to the best kid-friendly channels on the Common Sense Media site.

Be warned: These videos often showcase features that go far beyond what you might find in a typical Minecraft installation. There are mods (client or server modifications), resource packs (which alter game features such as the appearance of blocks), maps (pre-built worlds), and minigames (maps created for solo or competitive play).

Playing with others

In single player mode, you can create your own world for your child, which he can build and proudly show you everything. But if you really want to play with your kid, you need to learn about the multiplayer Minecraft game. There are three main ways to play multiplayer mode:

  • On the computer, after creating a world for one player, you can select “Open on local network” so that other users can connect to the world that you created. Your friends will need to know your IP address and port to connect to your server. Don’t forget that each player needs their own Minecraft account, so you’ll have to pay again to play together: one account for you, one for your child.
  • You can install the server on a different, separate computer to keep your world running. The server software is free, but again, each player needs their own account.
  • You can subscribe to Minecraft Realms , a subscription service for $ 9.99 per month. A paid subscription is only needed by the person who customizes the world, and he can invite others to play with them.

Pocket Edition, Windows 10 and Consoles support the same three ways to connect with other players, but are not compatible with PC / Mac versions. Realms subscriptions are also available for either the PC / Mac version or Pocket / Windows 10 version. This means you cannot play on your phone and connect to your child’s desktop world. Try both if you like, but remember to think about which ecosystem you want to stick with before your child starts building this huge castle.

Illustration by Sam Woolley .

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