National Edition

Could Minecraft help kids get smarter?

By Menachem Wecker

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, May 19 2014 4:00 a.m. MDT

Elaine Catloth, a producer at KDFW FOX 4 in Dallas, said it’s “maddening” how much time kids, including her 12-year-old daughter, spend playing Minecraft.

“It robs me of mommy-daughter time,” she said. “Both her father and I have said ‘enough’ — sometimes on Saturdays (and) Sundays, it’s six hours per day.” Catloth added that it makes her nervous that she doesn’t know the people that her daughter is playing with.

Even Owre at the University of North Carolina, who is a fan of the game, has his concerns that his daughter spends time on Minecraft at the expense of reading and exercise. “Besides that, we don’t think it’s equivalent to passive TV-watching, which is more concerning,” he says.

And, as NPR reported earlier this year, clocking in many hours gawking at a screen is associated with increased junk food consumption for children.

Back in Edmonton, Rob Patrick, the radio morning show host, says that managing his son Riley's “Minecraft time” became a nearly epic weekly struggle. “In almost no time, we were using a ‘Minecraft ban’ as punishment for almost anything, and then he started sneaking it at night,” says Patrick, who calls the control that games such as Minecraft have on kids “astounding.”

Now 9, Riley has matured and become more responsible in his playing, but he still plays a lot at friends’ houses. “His grade three teacher told us how tired he is of every boy in class doing their presentations or projects on Minecraft,” Patrick says.

Email: mwecker@gmail.com

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