Is It Safe for Your Kids To Play Minecraft?
In May 2023, hackers infected some of Minecraft’s most popular “mod packs” with info-stealing malware — putting the game’s online community of 140 million players at risk [*].
This cyberattack is the latest controversy associated with the popular online game, leaving many parents asking the same question: is Minecraft safe for kids?
U.S. kids and teenagers spend an average of 49 minutes a day playing Minecraft – making it the country’s third most popular video game [*].
But Minecraft’s popularity also makes it a prime target for hackers, scammers, cyberbullies, and online predators.
If your children aren’t prepared for the risks of the digital world, there could be real-world consequences that impact their health, relationships, and your family’s financial reputation.
In this parents guide, we’ll explain how Minecraft works, whether or not you should let your children play, and how to keep your kids safe when exploring Minecraft’s many worlds.
What Is Minecraft? How Do Kids Play It?
Minecraft is a popular video game that lets players explore and interact with each other within a three dimensional (3D) world. Inside this virtual sandbox game from Swedish developer Mojang, players can gather resources, create items, and build structures.
Since there's no fixed story, Minecraft players are free to shape the game world by using their imaginations. Despite its primitive graphics that look somewhat like virtual Lego, many kids love the freedom Minecraft offers without the pressure of rules or competition.
A JetLearn study asserts that Minecraft improves cognitive development, helping kids improve their creativity, problem-solving skills, planning, and resource management [*].
Many parents may not understand the terminology kids use when talking about Minecraft. But if you get familiar with the lingo, you can understand the game better — and spot problems when they arise.
Here are 14 Minecraft terms that every parent should know:
- Game modes and difficulty settings: There are several different versions of Minecraft. Your kids could have access to different features depending on whether they play Minecraft on PC, gaming consoles (such as Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and Playstation), Chromebooks, or mobile devices.
- Creative mode: Players can access all resources in item selection tabs and survival selection tabs. They can build anything they can imagine, and also destroy anything.
- Survival mode: Players can interact with the local villagers, and must defend their in-game creations and possessions against mobs that attack. The player’s health and hunger bars are constantly under threat.
- Adventure mode: Similar to Survival mode, Adventure mode allows players to interact with other player-created maps. While players can get hurt, they can’t directly destroy or place blocks.
- Multiplayer mode: In Minecraft: Bedrock Edition, multiple players can simultaneously connect and interact within the same virtual world. Players can work together or compete against each other.
- Realms: A personal server that allows you to play with up to two additional players. In Realms Plus, you can invite up to 10 players to play together in your private, controlled environment.
- Minecoins: The in-game currency lets players buy items from creators in the Minecraft Marketplace. You can buy Minecoins from the game store and keep them in a virtual wallet to use across any device connected to your Xbox Live account.
- Mobs: These artificial intelligence (AI)-driven entities resemble living creatures, from farmyard animals to supernatural beings. Some mobs are neutral, but many — like witches or zombies — will attack on sight. For example, Enderman is a tall, dark mob that becomes aggressive if you look at it directly.
- Creepers: Creepers are hostile mobs that appear in the dark. These enemies creep up on players and explode when they get close, causing damage to anything and anyone in their blast radius.
- Texture and skin packs: These add-ons are upgraded items that are badges of honor for many kids. While some skins are free, others come with a price tag at the Minecraft marketplace.
- Griefing: In multiplayer games, some players deliberately harass other players. For example, cyberbullies might gang up to destroy a victim’s items, troll fellow players in the chat feature, or attempt to steal their in-game items through a scam.
- Nether: A dangerous, otherworldly dimension in Minecraft (which players can access through a portal), this environment is inhabited by unique creatures and resources.
- Modding: Players can customize their gaming experience by adding modifications to the game's original version. These new features are entirely up to the players and may expose younger players to content that isn't age-appropriate.
- Education edition: Made for schools, this version of Minecraft has experiences custom tailored to the learning environment — including solving math and science problems or learning about different cultures, politics, and leadership.
For the most part, Minecraft is safe for kids. But, like Roblox and any other multiplayer game, there are inherent online gaming risks. Without proper supervision or parental controls, your kids could find themselves in tricky situations.
Is Minecraft Safe for Kids? Here Are the Risks
The dangers of playing Minecraft can range from mental and physical health issues to exposure to hackers, scammers, and online predators.
Here are 10 risks that your kids could be exposed to when playing Minecraft:
Minecraft can be highly addictive for some children
With its never-ending world, some kids become addicted to chasing the endless possibilities in Minecraft. Excessive game time can lead to real-world issues such as poor hygiene, stress, and anxiety. Left unchecked, the addiction can negatively impact kids’ school and social lives.
Emotional issues and impulse control
The game's immersive and interactive nature may cause frustrations or emotional outbursts — especially when your kid suffers a setback in the game.
Sleep disturbances impacting school performance
If your kids are gaming close to bedtime, they may have trouble falling asleep. Long-term irregular sleep patterns can lead to fatigue during the day. If your children are falling asleep at school or displaying mood swings, it could be time to limit their gaming time.
Cyberbullying and harassment
Minecraft is generally considered safe for kids, but cyberbullying is a perpetual threat in online multiplayer games. Minecraft streamer, Dream, donned a mask for three years as he built a following of 30 million. But when he revealed his face, he was subjected to bullying and online hate — causing him to resume wearing the mask again [*].
Adult content and language
While the original game design does not include explicit content, there are often instances of inappropriate language or behavior in unmoderated communities.
Exposure to digital violence
Regular combat with hostile creatures like zombies and dragons is part of Minecraft. While the pixelated and cartoonish graphics ensure that the violence isn’t realistic, consistent exposure to virtual violence could desensitize immature minds to the serious nature of these actions.
Data privacy concerns
Kids may not always be cautious about password management and sharing personal information online. Without Safe Browsing tools and best practices surrounding online privacy, they may reveal sensitive data about themselves or their family.
Scammers pressuring your kids into excessive online spending
If your credit card is connected to your children’s Minecraft accounts, they could quickly rack up bills — and potentially get scammed. A Florida teen who was behind a massive hack on Twitter was known for Minecraft scams [*].
Without parental controls and effective online privacy practices, your kids could end up in conversations with dangerous impersonators. In June 2023, child protection authorities warned that predators connect with children on Minecraft before coercing them into private conversations on Discord [*].
Online scams and fake mods
Kids might unwittingly download add-ons that contain malicious software. If hackers manage to plant a virus on your home computer or kid’s smartphone, it could put your entire family’s personal information at risk.
What Is the Appropriate Age for Kids To Play Minecraft?
The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has given Minecraft an E10+ rating (Everyone 10+) [*]. While it’s suitable for most children, there are a few elements that make this game inappropriate for children who are younger than 10 years of age.
Combat is a big part of Minecraft, but violence is not glorified — instead of bloody scenes, defeated characters simply vanish. But the ESRB rating does consider the more mature themes in the game. For instance, creatures like wolves and ghouls attack players in Survival mode. Your kid's character can also die from falling, drowning, burning, or starvation.
Aside from the fantasy violence, other key concerns are the access to in-game purchases and the ability for kids to chat with other Minecraft players online. However, despite the rating, up to 54% of boys and 46% of girls between the ages of three and 12 play Minecraft [*].
How To Keep Your Kids Safe on Minecraft: 10 Tips for Parents
- Choose the appropriate game modes and settings for your kids
- Set rules for how, when, and how long they can play
- Disable in-game chat features
- Use parental controls to limit game time
- Learn how to add, mute, and report players
- Whitelist servers or “realms” where your child can play
- Be on the lookout for signs of cyberbullying
- Get familiar with the game by playing with your child
- Protect your devices with antivirus and a VPN
- Teach your kids about online security
Here are 10 ways you can keep your children safe while they’re playing Minecraft:
1. Choose the appropriate game modes and settings for your kids
Too much exposure to the wrong type of content could have lasting impacts on immature minds. You can protect your kids from unnecessary risks by picking the correct mode for each child based on their age.
Here’s what to do:
- Use “Creative mode” for young children. In single-player mode, you can give children a chance to build structures without being exposed to other players and realms. With this protection, young kids won't face the risks of multiplayer games — like someone sabotaging your kid's in-game creations.
- Disable chat on multiplayer. You can prevent exposure to inappropriate content and language. Also, with no text chat, there’s less chance of cyberbullying, harassment, and potential interactions with online predators.
- Manage who can access your child’s build. Parents should protect their children’s personal information while gaming. By restricting access to the game settings, there’s less chance of sensitive data being leaked.
2. Set rules for how, when, and how long they can play
If kids become addicted to online gaming, it can impact their diet, personal hygiene, relationships, and mental health. Parents must monitor how much time their children spend on Minecraft (and other games) to stay ahead of developing issues. Clear boundaries are critical for the well-being of young children.
Here’s what to do:
- Create a Minecraft contract. Sit down with your children to discuss how they play Minecraft. Empower them by asking them to create and establish their own guidelines and consequences for breaking the rules.
- Offer rewards to promote a healthy balance. Your kids should understand that Minecraft can’t take over their lives. Encourage them to pursue off-screen activities with a gamified approach. For example, every hour spent doing sports, art, or playing with friends could unlock 15 minutes of gaming time for the weekend.
- Use parental controls to set hard time limits on mobile gaming. Parental control apps give you control over how long your children play games (or use other apps) on their devices. Set hard time limits to enforce the rules upon which you’ve already agreed.
3. Disable in-game chat features
Depending on which edition of Minecraft you’re using, you can limit or censor in-game text chat. For example, Minecraft: Java Edition includes a profanity filter that you can toggle on and off.
If you’re concerned about how your children interact with others while playing games online, you can restrict the text chat features.
Here’s how to customize the in-game chat features in Minecraft:
- Access the main menu and select Options, then Chat Settings.
- Choose either Command Only or Hidden. Once enabled, your kids won’t be able to see any inappropriate language, and there’s no risk of them disclosing sensitive information while playing Minecraft.
- Be aware that kids can also communicate with others through in-game items. For instance, players can use Signs or the Book and Quill to write messages for others to see.
4. Use parental controls to limit game time
Parental controls allow parents to monitor, restrict, and control how their children use mobile devices, computers, and other internet-connected devices (like gaming consoles). You can ensure Minecraft is safe for kids by using parental controls to stop your kids from excessive gameplay or exposure to adult content.
Here’s what to do:
- If you want to adjust parental control settings for your child’s Minecraft gaming, you must set up a Microsoft or Xbox Live account. Once you set it up, you can edit the settings for Minecraft: Bedrock Edition, Minecraft: Java Edition, Minecraft Dungeons, and Minecraft Realms.
- If your child plays Minecraft on an Xbox One, you can set content restrictions through the Xbox Family Settings app.
- If your child plays Minecraft on a PC, you can use Windows' built-in parental controls.
💡 Related: Aura vs. Bark: Which Parental Controls App Is Best? →
5. Learn how to add, mute, and report players
With open conversations about the dangers of the internet and online gaming, you can help your kid spot the red flags of inappropriate behavior. For example, they can detect cyberbullying, predatory comments, or attempts at griefing. Once they know the signs, your kids can stop unwanted contact before it becomes a big problem.
Here’s what to do:
First, tell your kids not to accept connection requests from strangers. They should only add people that they know in real life.
Then, show kids how to mute and report other players. If any chat messages or voice chat interactions make your children feel uncomfortable, they can mute the perpetrators. If they see anybody violating the community rules or bullying others, encourage your kids to report the players:
- You can make a report by going to the social interactions screen or via the pause menu.
- You can select multiple chat messages as part of the report. Also, provide additional notes to give the platform support team more context about the issue.
Lastly, you can restrict other players from interacting with your children while playing Minecraft. In the game settings, you have the following options:
- Allow or block multiplayer games.
- Block invitations to join other players’ games.
- Allow or block individuals from joining your children’s games.
- Block all chat messages, or limit them only to people on your children’s friend lists.
💡 Related: 12 Internet Safety Tips for Kids and Teens →
6. Whitelist servers or “realms” where your child can play
You can make Minecraft safe for kids by controlling which servers they can access. To do this, you must create an allowlist of approved multiplayer servers.
Here’s what to do:
- Log in to your child’s Minecraft account, and then navigate to the Settings menu.
- Select the Multiplayer option, and then toggle on the Whitelist setting.
- Add approved servers by selecting the Add Server button.
Once you have the whitelist set up, you can add family-friendly Minecraft servers like Minesquish or Blocklandia. To find other suitable public servers, do a Google search of child-friendly options and read reviews from the online community.
7. Be on the lookout for signs of cyberbullying
Almost 70% of students in the United States say they frequently see signs of cyberbullying [*]. But many young victims live in fear of their tormentors — and hide the problem from their parents. You must keep a close eye on your kids to find out if bullying on Minecraft is a problem for them.
Here are some signs of cyberbullying:
- Your kid is emotional after using their device. If your children throw their cell phones or have outbursts when gaming, they could be dealing with some emotional stress.
- You notice a dramatic change in how much time your kids use their devices. If children are being bullied, they may avoid going online — or spend more time on their devices in attempts to combat the bullies.
- Your child avoids social interactions. Another warning sign is social withdrawal. Victims of bullying might delete their social media accounts and avoid real-life events to avoid confrontations with bullies.
💡 Related: 10 Warning Signs of Cyberbullying (& What To Do) →
8. Get familiar with the game by playing with your child
You can get on your kid's level by playing Minecraft with them. Doing this will help you understand the game. Better yet, gaming together can become a bonding experience that helps your child feel more comfortable talking to you if any issues arise online.
Here are some tips for playing Minecraft with your children:
- Help your kids with problem-solving. In Survival mode, you can promote teamwork as you build a shelter together on the first day so that they can survive the first night in the game.
- Observe your kids’ reactions. Let them take the lead in multiplayer games, and take note of what excites them — or what causes them stress — whether it’s issues with other players or getting frightened by elements of the game. The more you understand how your kids use Minecraft, the better you can help shape their experiences.
- Look for teachable moments. You don’t want to turn their favorite game into a boring lecture. But when the opportunity arises, you can model appropriate responses to potential risks. For example, if you see people harassing another player, you can ask your kid to describe the best way to respond to the situation.
💡 Related: Is Fortnite Safe For Kids? What Parents Need To Know →
9. Protect your devices with antivirus and a virtual private network (VPN)
You can make Minecraft safer for kids by teaching them to embrace Safe Browsing tools. Explain the benefits of security software and how it helps protect your family’s identity, finances, and personal information.
Here’s what to do:
- Install reliable antivirus software. If your kids download Minecraft mods from an untrustworthy site, it could infect their devices. Aura’s leading antivirus and antimalware solution detects and isolates malicious programs — like spyware or Trojans.
- Turn on a virtual private network (VPN). By using a reliable VPN, your kids can hide their locations and activities from hackers. This security is paramount if you give your child permission to make in-game purchases with your credit card.
- Start a reporting system. Make sure your kids know not to disable any security software. Encourage them to report any notifications or potential issues with the antivirus.
- Keep all gaming activities in open spaces. It’s easier to control internet access at home and monitor how children interact with others on Minecraft by keeping consoles in the living room or kitchen.
10. Teach your kids about online security
While you may think Minecraft is safe for kids, it's undeniable that the internet is rife with security risks. Young children must protect themselves online — as a quick chat with a stranger could expose them to an account takeover or identity theft.
Here’s what to do:
- Show them which details to protect. Help your children understand which elements of their personal information are most sensitive. With some education, your child will know to keep their home address, school address, phone number, date of birth, and Social Security number (SSN) private from everyone.
- Educate kids on password management. Make sure your kids don’t share their login credentials with anybody. Not even someone claiming to work with Minecraft needs to know your child’s password.
- Encourage kids to learn more about online safety. You can ensure your children are better equipped to handle online gaming risks by having them read more about the dangers of the digital world. As kids read about phishing emails and child identity theft, they will understand the need to be cautious.
The Bottom Line: Kids Love Online Games – Parents Love Aura
While Minecraft’s content is largely safe for kids, there are growing external threats from scammers, hackers, and cyberbullies. If you want to ensure that your children are safe when playing Minecraft, you must build a culture of open communication and safe gaming practices in your home.
For added protection and peace of mind, Aura’s all-in-one digital security solution offers the best way to safeguard your kids from online gaming risks.
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- Parental controls to manage your kid’s gaming activity with content filters, screen time limits, and chat monitoring.
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