This article was contributed by NCA-CEOP

NCA-CEOP is a command of the National Crime Agency. As well as being a reporting mechanism, NCA-CEOP works with child protection partners across the UK and overseas to identify the main threats to children, and coordinates activity against these threats to bring offenders to account.

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Staying safe on Minecraft

Photo: Kevin Jarrett

Tips from NCA-CEOP for parents on helping your child make the most of Minecraft

Minecraft is one of the world’s most popular games, especially with children.

The chances are, if you have primary age children, Minecraft will be part of their world, or their friends' worlds. So what should you know about helping your kids play safely?

Are there age restrictions? 

Mincecraft has spawned video games which have their own ratings. The online version of Minecraft’s terms and conditions specify that under 13s need parental permission to play. In the UK, if children under the age of 13 play Minecraft without permission, it is a violation of the site’s terms and conditions but it is not illegal.

Is it appropriate for younger children?

Despite the age restriction, Minecraft is very popular with primary school children. There’s nothing about the game itself that’s inappropriate for kids – in fact, it’s often been described as a virtual Lego. Users explore landscapes and worlds and build their infrastructure from materials they find on the site.

As with any online activity, there are some safety concerns to keep in mind. If you have a young child who plays Minecraft, you might want to:

  • Set the account up through your own email address and know their passwords – at primary age, this is not an unreasonable thing to ask. 
  • Discuss which settings you are going to apply prior to their joining the site – will you allow multiplayer, for instance?
  • Speak to your child about unwanted contact and what to do if someone is being nasty or inappropriate to them in the game. Ask that they come to you if anything goes wrong, so you can make it stop. 

Are there privacy settings?  

Privacy settings are limited in Minecraft, but there are things you can do to control what your child sees and who they interact with. These are especially important if your child is of a primary age – you may want to be more flexible with older children, depending on their maturity and ability to talk to you if they feel uncomfortable. 

Single-player / multiple-player 

Users can either play on their own in single-player, which is the safest mode because they can't use the chat function; or with others in multiplayer.

The multiplayer option enables users to play together in a single world. It’s safest to create a private server where only known friends and contacts can join. Some servers have been set up to enable children and families to play together, with strict rules on language and behaviour. A simple online search will give you server options. 

Chat feature  

On multiplayer, the chat function allows users to participate in discussions. You can open a chat window by pressing the 'T' button and then pressing 'Enter' to display the chat to other users. In the chat function users can also post website links. 

Chat features on sites allow children to make friends with people who, in this case, have similar gaming interests. Online, there is no way of verifying who these people might be, so if your child is talking to people online that they have never met in the real world, it is important that they don’t give away any personal information about themselves, or move their conversations into other online areas, especially private ones where conversations could become more personal.  

Are Minecraft YouTube videos safe? 

Lots of Minecraft users watch fan-created YouTube videos to improve their skills and learn new techniques. 

‘Try searching for “profanity free Minecraft servers”’

Minecraft videos are popular with children and plenty of them are age-appropriate. But some of the videos include commentary with profanity or sexual references, and some discuss and encourage bullying. So if your child is planning to watch Minecraft YouTube videos, you may want to have a look at them first.

You can also try searching for ‘profanity free Minecraft servers’. But even then it might be worth checking the videos before young children watch them. Minecraft does not have any particularly graphic content but some of the videos contain monsters, trolls, spiders and zombies, which some children may find scary.  

Some popular YouTubers run Minecraft channels that are intended to be family friendly. Minecraft Dad makes videos of himself and his kids playing on their family server, while SuperKevinCraft is run by a teen whose videos show him building and exploring with friends. Stampy’s videos are also popular with children. You can point younger children towards some of these age-appropriate channels.

You can also turn on YouTube’s Safety Mode to block age-inappropriate content. 

Can I report directly to Minecraft? 

Currently, Minecraft does not have a 'report' function so your child should be careful when joining a server. If your child is gaming with a mature age group, they might hear offensive language or rude comments.

With some plugins (add-on software that extends or customises the game), you can report users who break the rules of the server to a moderator who can ban anyone being offensive or disruptive.

Further reading

Find out more about how Minecraft works and what the appeal is in our What is Minecraft article.

The advice published on Parent Info is provided by independent experts in their field and not necessarily the views of Parent Zone or NCA-CEOP.

Updated: ​May 2018

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