My Son Is Obsessed with Minecraft (& I’m Sick of It)

My kid has a one track mind. Not about sex, but screens …especially screens involving Minecraft. 

A got an iPad for Christmas. We caved to what seems to be a new law in the school — every kid, even second graders, must have an iPad, which is coco puffs. He has my old one, and we heavily monitor its use (mostly for Minecraft). Sometimes I feel like it’s just one more thing to bribe him with. If you don’t do this first, you can’t have any screens later.

He would spend all his free time on screen time if we allowed it, but we don’t. Weekends only. Or Wii-kends only, as we like to say.

But instead of endless Wii, he now wants endless Minecraft — and he wants to talk about Minecraft non-stop. And wants us to play it with him nonstop. I tried it. It’s not for me (mostly because I’m hopeless at it and find it tedious, a bad combo). My husband likes it enough, so they can build villages side by side and discuss it. That’s exciting for A, so okay. He begs me to join him, but when I do for just 30 minutes or so, I have dreamy visions of breaking blocks and building walls in the moments before I go to sleep. I wonder what this does to his brain, after he’s been playing for two hours on a Saturday. Still, it’s building. It’s creative. Fine. I surrender.

He’s dying for the day when all three of us can connect in his virtual Minecraft world. That might happen. Also, he’s begging to connect with other kids from around the globe who play Minecraft. That won’t happen until he’s 10, we tell him. With that, we get cries of “That’s so unfair!” 

We have the rules at home, but on playdates and parties, I’m flexible when it comes to screens and treats in general. Would I prefer they play Legos, have a snowball fight, or kick a soccer ball? Sure. But lots of time it devolves (in my mind) to screens. Not TV, but Wii games or Minecraft. Sometimes I think A wants a playdate just so he can light up a screen during the week — and he can be disappointed if that didn’t happen.

One friend of his, at our house, didn’t want to stop reading while A was anxiously setting up the Wii. Fortunately the other boy opted to take a break from books, at my urging! What has happened to me? 

Part of me thinks that maybe we shouldn’t make it a treat because he won’t covet it so much — or the opposite will happen and he’ll only want to play computer games. I would bet on the latter but it’s all a crapshoot. Another part of me wishes I had never let the Minecraft genie out of the bottle to begin with — his emotions can get so fraught over it, the highest highs and the lowest lows — but it’s too late now.

I doubt his obsession with Minecraft will end anytime soon, but I hope it translates to a “real” Lego world of building. And I’ve suggested that he try to build places he remembers from Ethiopia. That could make it magic for me. And him. 

Photo: Getty