Today’s digital environment is different than what most parents experienced when we were kids. That’s why it’s important for families to educate ourselves as we establish our own house rules for online playtime and environments.
At Connected Camps, we don’t just develop and run awesome camps, clubs, and courses for your kids to join and learn through immersive online Minecraft and Roblox games. We also are engaged in ongoing research into learning and social development in online spaces. We network and collaborate with other leaders in the connected learning space, and we want to share the benefit of our knowledge with you.
For example, parents often wonder how much screen time their kids should be allowed to have. They know that Minecraft and Roblox are popular, but they may not know how to choose a positive and productive Minecraft server or what Roblox games are OK. Here’s some advice from previous blogs on those three key topics. You can trust the advice of our co-founders, Mimi Ito and Katie Salen, and it’s collected here.
Since witnessing how online connections helped us all through the social isolation days of COVID, many parents are now trying to figure out a new balance. In this post, Mimi Ito points out that the idea that screens are bad for kids has gotten deeply entrenched. Mimi says that “many parents pride themselves on following old guidelines that the American Academy of Pediatrics has since rejected: tracking screen time, believing this will lead to healthy kids. It’s natural to hope that controlling access to a device might make our kids smart and well-adjusted, but if only it were that simple… Maybe it made more sense when TV was the only screen, but given the wide range of activities that screens are part of these days, a focus on screen time is too blunt an instrument.” Even the AAP now advocates for parents to be “media mentors.”
To help create family guidelines that go beyond hours and minutes and help leverage the joy and productivity of the internet, Mimi offers three guidelines:
- Stay attentive to red flags, and also keep fears in perspective
- Maintain balance
- Hunt for extraordinary learning (who doesn’t love to learn a new skill on YouTube?!)
For more tips on how to set positive guidelines for youth and the Internet, read this blog post.
10 Best Minecraft Servers for Kids
Of course, our own Kid Club is a great place for kids to interact and play Minecraft, but there are many others that kids may want to join as well. Katie Salen starts this blog about the 10 Best Minecraft Servers for Kids by saying, “Not all Minecraft servers are equal when it comes to providing a positive environment for younger players.” She offers advice on how to mitigate risks and also discusses basic skills a child should have before joining a server. Her tips for choosing a good server include:
- Make sure they have a clear Code of Conduct
- All players should be “safelisted” (players are approved to join by an administrator)
- Server is always moderated
Katie wraps up the post with a list of Top 10 Kid-friendly Minecraft servers. She also reminds parents to play with their kids: “While it is very likely that your child is better at Minecraft than you are, playing with your kids will give you an idea of what the server environment and community of players is like… And you may learn a thing or two about why your child loves Minecraft so much!”
Top Roblox Games for Kids
Roblox has been growing in popularity because kids love it! There are thousands of different games and activities to choose from. In this post, our counselors offered advice on kid-friendly Roblox games that combine friendly competition, engaging challenges, and creative fun.
Our recommendations span Obby Games (obstacle courses), Party Games, Exploration Games, and more. From Freeze Tag to Golf to exploring the Wild West, there are loads of fun options.
As with any online environment, there are some steps for parents to take to ensure their families have a safe experience. We recommend:
- Parents set restrictions on accounts based on the age of the children playing
- Mute the chat when joining so there’s no risk of bad links or language
- Monitor your child’s messaging and the games they join
Just like Minecraft, Roblox provides an engaging online place for kids to play with friends. Check out our guide to popular Roblox games to get started.
Connected Camps offers programs that ensure your kids are in a safe, friendly, moderated environment as they play Minecraft, Roblox, and other games. Our camps, clubs, and courses offer a mix of daily or weekly programs that will engage and challenge your learners. As camper Cassidy said, “I have taken many camps and classes through Connected Camps, and it is always a fun and interactive experience. I also really enjoy their Kids Club Server because it’s safe, fun, and the Mods are helpful and friendly.”
We hope that the tips we’ve shared here and in our other posts will help you as you guide children to safely playing and exploring in other online environments.