Reasons you should be okay with your kids playing Minecraft

Over the past six months, my 10 and 13 year old sons have spent more time playing a game called Minecraft then they probably have spent at school.  The other weekend when we were Minecraft Fansvisiting my brother and his family in Ottawa, the entire conversation at the Easter dinner table was about Minecraft.  The kids, all four of them, were incredibly enthusiastic and confident in explaining how the game works.  My little 9 year old niece was the exception… but listened and learned along with the four other adults. We were asking questions and finding out how this game could be so commanding of our boys’ attentions for hour and hours on end.

Upon further research, I’ve discovered something that is quite exciting and in line with what I do with… engaging children with educational technology.  Now, some could argue that Minecraft isn’t exactly an educational technology but in the following list there is clearly a case for why you should be okay as a parent, for your children to play Minecraft.

Here is a wiki about Minecraft in education:

Hacker in residence at UPEI, Peter Rukavina, is hosting an open Minecraft Lab which is AWESOME!!  Free.

I’m looking into putting a summer week long camp for Minecraft lovers.

Anyway, as a parent or grandparent, use your children’s enthusiasm for Minecraft as an excuse to connect with them and encourage their foray into learning, and their development of skills that they don’t even know of!  That’s my advice 🙂


My young sons and internet use

My first son was born in 1999.  I had an internet-based business that year and have been glued to a computer ever since.  Therefore, my children have been brought up using computers, the connected generation.  Phones, computers and in the past few years, tablets.  The internet has become ubiquitous where it even now travels with us.  I have a lot of respect for all that it has allowed me to do and for how it has opened up the world and education.

But the power of the internet and it’s dark side scares me, too.

My children had limited access to the internet time up until the past couple of years and in that time the usage has exponentially grown into becoming somewhat excessive.  As I type, there is an Xbox downstairs with three boys, three laptops, an iPod, Blackberry and an iPad mini.  An iPad in the kitchen. Living room, possibly a laptop, etc, etc.  Scary.

My boys are 10 and 13 now and I’m becoming a bit more concerned about their internet use.  How can I keep track of what’s on all of those devices?  Luckily, and purposefully I am very aware and almost vigilant about what they play and watch online.  Keeping violence and pornography away from them at all costs is high on my list of priorities.  They are constantly on Minecraft and I have no problem with that. As a matter of fact, quite the opposite.  I can make an argument that it’s actually quite good if your child is playing it (in moderation).  I’m trying to teach them to be responsible.

Although right now I feel very confident in the positive way in which my boys are using the internet and technology, I will do everything I can to teach them that they have to use these powerful tools with respect and look for positive experiences and not use it for any nastiness, darkness or hurtful behavior.

Here are 13 ways to teach your children about the internet:

1. Teach them what open source is.

2. Why copyright is important.  Good info from CBC on it here.

3. Tell them to contribute as opposed to plunge, by writing, filming, recording, etc. as opposed to stealing, copying, etc.

4. Show them how to contribute by doing the following:

5. Teach them how to code so they can create things (ages 6 and up).  There are a TON of ways to do this.

6. Communicate with them with technology. Not ALL of the time, but show them you’re familiar with what’s “in”.

7. Share information of value with them online. What are your values?

8. Use it as a priveledge. They have to earn it to use it.

9. Encourage them to self-teach as much as possible using resources from the web (youtube a how-to video).

10. Encourage them to not spend ALL of their time online.  Go outside!

11. Be aware of who their friends are online.

12. Read up on internet safety for children… there are many resources available online to help.

13. Teach them to be be wary of how women are over-sexualized and that it is never, never okay to take a girl’s picture without her consent.

I’m sure you could add to this, and I encourage you to do in the comments or by emailing me,  or at the very least, think of how you can show your children better ways to use the internet.  Take care of your children… it can be treacherous out there!

Day 6: Cool Things About My Newest Course

I set up a programming and 3D design course at my son’s junior high in Charlottetown.  I hired an instructor from UPEI to teach it for the first part and the latter part is being taught by a good friend of mine, Tom Haan, who is an inventor and mechanical engineer technologist.  He owns a $30,ooo 3D printer.  We had our first class yesterday and the kids LOVED it!

1. Twelve kids showed up, ten boys, two girls.

2. One little girl came that I wasn’t expecting with a big smile, her $40 and sat right up front.

3. The instructor, Chris Vessey, demonstrated using “pukey kid” and “kitty cat”, recording himself making a puking noise so that whenever Pukey Kid ran into Kitty Cat, he mad the puking noise. The kids were enthralled (engagement level: HIGH).

4. Chris brought a UPEI computer science student named Fatemah to help. She is lovely and will be instructing as well.

5. We decided that the school computers were not reliable enough so kids brought their own and I brought mine. Six students used my laptops. I spend the afternoon collecting laptops from parents, picking them up and transporting mine in a suitcase.  Indeed, a true mobile computer lab, except the mobile part happens to be my falling apart, 10 year old Saab.

6. When I was collecting them, I asked each student individually if they had computers at home. The girl with the big smile was the only one that said that no, so I gave her the one that she was working on, on loan.

Three more students are coming tomorrow so we will have a total of 15 kids, ages 10 – 15 learning how to program and design using technology.  Wow… sometimes I can’t believe that this is actually happening!


Getting Techmobeel Mobile

November greetings to you!
As you probably know, I’ve been working on getting educational technology into the hands of students on PEI for the past 2+ years: advocating for better access in schools, developing two successful pilot projects, speaking to teachers and in general, just trying to share as much info as possible about educational sites and online tools.
I’ve put together an Indegogo campaign to try and raise some money to buy 16 laptops to become a mobile computer lab so that I can take afterschool technology programs on the road!  My goal is to get Island students excited about learning by using what they are familiar with: computers and the internet.  I need both to make this happen… laptops and wireless.
I know money is tight for a lot of people right now but I was wondering if you could possibly help by sharing this campaign with any people in your network that you think might be willing to contribute.  It will pay in dividends… the children of PEI will surely benefit in the long run.
So, any sponsorship, any advice you have, any contacts for me to talk to, sharing this link and a plug on Facebook or Twitter (maybe a couple of times over the next couple of weeks)… whatever you can do, I would greatly appreciate!  I will most certainly return the favor should you ever need it!
Here’s the link:
Many thanks,

Maureen Kerr
Social Media and Technology Trainer