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10 Reasons Why Minecraft Is Beneficial for Your Kids

10 Reasons Why Minecraft Is Beneficial for Your Kids

When it comes to children and screen time, many parents take a cautionary approach. After all, many there are many digital outlets that vie for kids’ attention, including TVs, tablets, computers, and smartphones that they can access at home or in school. And of course, parents also have to worry about lifestyle balance when it comes to sedentary and active recreation—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that over a third of children in the U.S. are considered either “overweight or obese.”

At the same time, children must become fluent in current technologies in order to function in an increasingly digital world. Parents can help direct their children’s attention to positive and healthy online communities, such as the world of Minecraft, an open-world building-block game for PC and console. Researchers at Radboud University believe that certain video games provide significant benefits to children, helping them regulate emotions, build strong social ties, and improve other cognitive abilities. The following list explores why Minecraft can be a valuable addition to your children’s playtime.

1. Easy Access

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    Both children and adults are easily captivated by the world of Minecraft. It’s like discovering a limitless container of Lego blocks. The open sandbox format of this game makes absolutely anything possible. Avatars can collect resources by punching trees and digging up dirt. Eventually, these resources can be used in formulas to create other tools. Tools can start simple—hammers, axes, and shovels, but players gain enough resources, they can build complex tools—circuits, trains, and even houses. MinecraftEdu, an academic organization comprised of educators and programmers, recommends the game to teachers because it is “easily adaptable to curriculum” with “sandbox play [that] allows for ANY kind of experience.”

    2. Inspiring Confident Exploration

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      Contrary to other video games that have strict rules and linear event progressions, Minecraft is an open environment that doesn’t come built-in with structured quests. This means that youngsters can roam through this world and explore without an urgent set of tasks. However, they are still challenged by loose survival requirements, such as feeding their avatars, building shelter, or warding off enemies (giant spiders or green “Creepers”). Children are free to make mistake and succeed in the world of Minecraft. Wired notes that video games have the power to help players “overcome the fear of failure IRL” (In Real Life).

      3. Increased Creativity

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        There’s no denying that Minecraft provides children with unprecedented opportunities for creativity. Some will explore extensive cave systems underground while other players might build lavish houses. Or who knows? Perhaps your child will reveal their architectural genius and create astonishing block cities and structures inspired by real or fictional locations.

        4. Teamwork

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          Your children can play for long hours on solo missions. But families can also set up personal servers, so that other friends and family members can join in on the fun. Parents can also download custom Minecraft maps, such as multiplayer adventures. Psychologists have been researching video games as a way to build social skills, since children get to engage with one another to overcome obstacles and achieve success. In an American Psychological Association (APA) article, Dr. Isabela Granic describes studies that reveal “People who play video games…that encourage cooperation are more likely to be helpful to others while gaming than those who play the same games competitively.”

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          5. Problem Solving

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            Children must discover new resources and experiment with different recipe combinations to create tools in Minecraft. They must figure out how to build a shelter before night falls and feed their avatar. Research conducted by S.R.I. International reveals that video game play might be responsible in measurable problem-solving and memory improvements.

            6. Parents Can Play Too

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              Due to the game’s extremely accessible entry point, scale-able levels of complexity, and group-play features, parents can also get in on the Minecraft action. Your building and survival experiences in Minecraft can be a great bonding exercise for the entire family.

              7. It Teaches Resource Management

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                Once children become thoroughly engrossed in Minecraft, they begin to start calculating the costs of their resources. For example, wood can be acquired by hand, but it’s faster to use an axe. However, all of these tools will eventually wear out, necessitating even more resources. Your child will soon be weighing the economics of labor and resources as they seek to craft the thousands of recipes used in this game.

                8. Geometry Skills

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                  There’s no doubt that your children will get to exercise their spatial awareness and geometry skills while building structures with these blocks. Children will quickly learn what’s possible with the six faces of a cube, and how to stack blocks in a way that is structurally sound.

                  9. Community Engagement

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                    One of the coolest things about Minecraft is that other players are constantly sharing their custom-made modifications, quest maps, impressive artwork, and wiki entries. This culture encourages young people to explore their own ideas and contribute too. Depending on your child’s age, you might want to explore special public servers, forums, and wiki guides together and see how other players customize their games.

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                    10. Age-Appropriate Content

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                      Finally, Minecraft can be played by children of many ages. It has been rated for people ages seven and up by the Pan European Game Information (PEGI) and ages four and up for the iOS version. Yes, there is some use of weapons against enemies in the game; however the interactions are not graphic at all. And parents can always set the game to “Peaceful” mode, so that children don’t encounter monsters at all.

                      So what are you waiting for? Pick up Minecraft for PC or console to start exploring some of the advantages video games have in store for your children!

                      Featured photo credit: Anthony Harden via flickr.com

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                      Larry Alton

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                      Last Updated on May 14, 2019

                      8 Replacements for Google Notebook

                      8 Replacements for Google Notebook

                      Exploring alternatives to Google Notebook? There are more than a few ‘notebooks’ available online these days, although choosing the right one will likely depend on just what you use Google Notebook for.

                      1. Zoho Notebook
                        If you want to stick with something as close to Google Notebook as possible, Zoho Notebook may just be your best bet. The user interface has some significant changes, but in general, Zoho Notebook has pretty similar features. There is even a Firefox plugin that allows you to highlight content and drop it into your Notebook. You can go a bit further, though, dropping in any spreadsheets or documents you have in Zoho, as well as some applications and all websites — to the point that you can control a desktop remotely if you pare it with something like Zoho Meeting.
                      2. Evernote
                        The features that Evernote brings to the table are pretty great. In addition to allowing you to capture parts of a website, Evernote has a desktop search tool mobil versions (iPhone and Windows Mobile). It even has an API, if you’ve got any features in mind not currently available. Evernote offers 40 MB for free accounts — if you’ll need more, the premium version is priced at $5 per month or $45 per year. Encryption, size and whether you’ll see ads seem to be the main differences between the free and premium versions.
                      3. Net Notes
                        If the major allure for Google Notebooks lays in the Firefox extension, Net Notes might be a good alternative. It’s a Firefox extension that allows you to save notes on websites in your bookmarks. You can toggle the Net Notes sidebar and access your notes as you browse. You can also tag websites. Net Notes works with Mozilla Weave if you need to access your notes from multiple computers.
                      4. i-Lighter
                        You can highlight and save information from any website while you’re browsing with i-Lighter. You can also add notes to your i-Lighted information, as well as email it or send the information to be posted to your blog or Twitter account. Your notes are saved in a notebook on your computer — but they’re also synchronized to the iLighter website. You can log in to the site from any computer.
                      5. Clipmarks
                        For those browsers interested in sharing what they find with others, Clipmarks provides a tool to select clips of text, images and video and share them with friends. You can easily syndicate your finds to a whole list of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg. You can also easily review your past clips and use them as references through Clipmarks’ website.
                      6. UberNote
                        If you can think of a way to send notes to UberNote, it can handle it. You can clip material while browsing, email, IM, text message or even visit the UberNote sites to add notes to the information you have saved. You can organize your notes, tag them and even add checkboxes if you want to turn a note into some sort of task list. You can drag and drop information between notes in order to manage them.
                      7. iLeonardo
                        iLeonardo treats research as a social concern. You can create a notebook on iLeonardo on a particular topic, collecting information online. You can also access other people’s notebooks. It may not necessarily take the place of Google Notebook — I’m pretty sure my notes on some subjects are cryptic — but it’s a pretty cool tool. You can keep notebooks private if you like the interface but don’t want to share a particular project. iLeonardo does allow you to follow fellow notetakers and receive the information they find on a particular topic.
                      8. Zotero
                        Another Firefox extension, Zotero started life as a citation management tool targeted towards academic researchers. However, it offers notetaking tools, as well as a way to save files to your notebook. If you do a lot of writing in Microsoft Word or Open Office, Zotero might be the tool for you — it’s integrated with both word processing software to allow you to easily move your notes over, as well as several blogging options. Zotero’s interface is also available in more than 30 languages.

                      I’ve been relying on Google Notebook as a catch-all for blog post ideas — being able to just highlight information and save it is a great tool for a blogger.

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                      In replacing it, though, I’m starting to lean towards Evernote. I’ve found it handles pretty much everything I want, especially with the voice recording feature. I’m planning to keep trying things out for a while yet — I’m sticking with Google Notebook until the Firefox extension quits working — and if you have any recommendations that I missed when I put together this list, I’d love to hear them — just leave a comment!

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