We’re homeschooling, so I get to test out all my crazy educational ideas on my children. It’s like the field of science, before human subject regulations. They are my guinea pigs.

We spent our homeschool time on Minecraft. Survival. I made myself feel a little better because their peers are on Spring Break, and so they were probably on Minecraft too. Or Five Nights. I feel okay about Minecraft.

In creative mode, we built onto a village. We built a market square. We brought in each type of villager. (If you give a villager a jobsite block they will do emerald trades with players.)

So there are these learning outcomes in the Ohio Social Studies content standards:

  • Resources can be used in various ways
  • Most people around the world work in jobs in which they produce specific goods and services
  • People use money to buy and sell goods and services
  • People earn income by working
  • Entrepreneurs organize productive resources and take risks to make a profit and compete with other producers
  • The availability of productive resources and the division of labor impact productive capacity
  • Regions and countries become interdependent when they specialize in what they produce best and then trade with other regions to increase the amount and variety of goods and services available
  • Workers can improve their ability to earn income by gaining new knowledge, skills, and experiences
  • Science and technology have changed daily life
  • The work that people do is impacted by the distinctive human and physical characteristics in the place where they live
  • Human activities alter the physical environment, both positively and negatively

I think that our activity gave the kids a feel for these things. I know that they will internalize and verbalize these statements to the extent that I talk with them about it using these words.

I like Minecraft (because it’s fun) but also because kids practice problem solving and goal setting. If they have to play video games, survival Minecraft is such a great one to play. Creative Minecraft is so obviously good for kids. We do need to limit it, though, or it will take over our life.

Confession. I am a little bit addicted. So I know what I am talking about when I say it can take over my life. When I was taking an online class, it was so hard to watch the videos instead of playing Minecraft.

If I am in any way not addicted at the moment, it’s because I had a few bad play sessions, like I died and lost all the resources I had spent the last two hours collecting. Or I finally found a saddle and my daughter was so excited to finally ride a horse. But then I died far from home on a journey and couldn’t get back before the compass that would lead me to the horse wearing the saddle disappeared.

So really remembering those painful times, the times when I clearly wasted my time.

And also getting a new life-long project that I am truly interested in, and can take steps to achieve now. I think about young men who burn out in college because they stay up all night playing video games- are they truly engaged in what they should be doing during the day?

I recently had success in convincing Peter to play less video games (We made a rule months ago that no one can choose video games for our activity during Family Home Evening. Peter did not want to adopt this rule, so we said No One Can Choose Video Games Except Peter. Then this week, Austin submitted an idea to let him also choose a device-based activity…).

I used a metaphor from Starcraft (another past addiction of mine). There is a unit that can steal another unit, and make it part of their team, under the control of another player. I told Peter that video games are like Dark Archons; they can turn your own pieces against you (sleep, friends, church, homework are your pieces, and it’s really bad when they are not on your team). But the thing to do is put your units in a bunker. We put Family Home Evening in a bunker by not allowing device-based activities. I was able to talk to him on this level because I had the very experiences I wanted to avoid for him and I was able to use language that made a whole lot of sense to him.