Minecraft is an interesting game. Considered a “sandbox” game, users can create their own worlds using the materials and blocks within the game. It has often been described as a game without rules. Minecraft is very useful for kids with ADHD.

Since kids with ADHD love three things; watching TV, playing computer games and playing with LEGOs, it’s no shock that they love Minecraft. Let’s explore how Minecraft and ADHD go hand in hand, and how it can help kids focus more, as well as build social skills.

Why Minecraft is so Popular

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Image: Minecraft Build by Victoria via Facebook

Not everyone has heard of Minecraft, but for those of you who have children, they've heard it mentioned once or twice. Minecraft can be played on a multitude of platforms; computer, XBox, smartphone, tablet, PlayStation, etc. It is considered a game with no rules and anything goes. Why? It means there is a lot of flexibility for players to build things using the tools within the game. They’re able to play it by themselves, building towns and creations of their own. They can also join servers and play with friends.

Another reason it is popular is because you don’t need a lot of skill level to play. This is how it is very popular among younger children. However, the site does have an age restriction. Children under the age of 13 are not allowed to sign up. It is up to the parent if they want their child(ren) to play.

Minecraft for Kids With ADHD

Minecraft and ADHD go hand in hand these days. Kids with ADHD have trouble focusing on certain tasks that require them to create lists to do things, such as how they’re going to get homework done, or making an outline for projects. However, Minecraft's easy “sandbox” style allows them to be as creative as they want to be. Dr. Randy Kulman, a child clinical psychologist, did interviews over 20 years about how digital media has helped children with ADHD. Minecraft was one of those games that came up a lot in his interviews.

Why does Minecraft appeal so much to children with ADHD?

During Dr. Randy Kulman’s study, he noticed that children younger than 13 were becoming more and more interested in the “sandbox” game. They stated that they like the creative freedom that the game allows them. They don’t need any certain amount of skill to learn how to play the game. One 12-year old boy stated that, “Minecraft allows you to express yourself in a building and you can build your structures using Redstone and you can make stuff using circuits and on/off switches.”

It may appeal to children with ADHD for the main purpose that it has a lack of rules, yet it also allows them to express themselves creatively, and try new things, without the fear that they will make mistakes. A big turn on is that they get immediate feedback from what they are doing without being told that it’s “right or wrong.”

Minecraft Effects on Kids with ADHD

All digital games come with pros and cons, Minecraft is no exception. However, there are a lot of different views about how Minecraft affects kids with ADHD. In an article, What My Son With ADHD Taught Me About Minecraft and Executive Functioning, a father’s son has ADHD. He was surprised at the skills his son was learning from the game. He and his son put together a list of the skills his son was learning from the game:

Task: Build a Shelter
Skill: Planning and Prioritizing

Task: Keep Track of Inventory
Skill: Organization

Task: Use a Crafting Table
Skill: Working Memory

Task: Handle the Unexpected
Skill: Flexible Thinking

Task: Explore Temples
Skill: Impulse Control

Task: Build Machines
Skill: Self-Monitoring

He also states how each skill helps with each task. Even though these skills don’t translate to tasks in the real world, at the moment he has a way of relaxing without there being stress to be perfect.

Pros and Cons of Minecraft and ADHD

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Image: Minecraft in Schools via Wikimedia Commons

Since there isn’t any formal research on Minecraft, you have to go on how video games affect children. Video games can help certain skills in children with ADHD such as improving their processing speed, memory, and social involvement. However are there pros and cons to Minecraft and ADHD?

Pros of Minecraft and ADHD

Minecraft helps to build their focus. In the game, kids have to focus on tasks for a long period of time. Staying focused is very important. If they are wanting to build something that is large in scale, and very elaborate, there are steps and processes that they must stay focused on. It is clear that Minecraft can help children with ADHD develop better focusing skills.

Minecraft can also help them to build planning skills, by ordering tasks more efficiently. At school, certain grades have kids write out plans for projects, or to outline for a test. This can be especially discouraging for children with ADHD. However, Minecraft inconspicuously helps them to build this skill. They have plans to follow or watch video tutorials that help them build large crafts and buildings.

Cons of Minecraft and ADHD

Even though Minecraft can help kids with ADHD build social skills through the game, that might be hard to translate into real life. They sit in their rooms withdrawn from reality, and when they rejoin the rest of the world, they can become shut off.

There is also a concern that these kids will develop obesity. Sitting at the computer, or in their room in front of the television, they aren't getting the necessary amount of exercise they need each day. It can become a problem for those who can become obsessed with the game.

Kids with ADHD can also develop an obsession with Minecraft. Since it helps to build their focus on larger tasks, some can - and will - develop a need to finish what they are doing long into the night. This can be unhealthy, not only health wise, but cognitively.

How Can We Help?

There are red flags to look for if your child with ADHD cannot keep him/herself away from Minecraft by themselves. They develop what is called “Internet gaming disorder.” One of the symptoms of this disorder is withdrawal when their game is taken away. You’ll also notice that they will lose interest in their other hobbies or activities. So how can we help? Encourage a balance for their game playing.

Set a visible timer for how long they are allowed to play Minecraft. Set a routine for what they should do after playing Minecraft. Things that they should be doing besides playing the video game is demonstrated by their parents. Having a hobby, reading books, exercising, etc. Parents need to make activities more interesting such as going to the museum, zoo, ballpark, anything that might get their child(ren) out of the house.

Minecraft Videos for Kids

Videos have become a big source of inspiration for kids playing Minecraft. Even for those who have ADHD. There are loads of vlogs to watch other players playing Minecraft. YouTube offers a wide variety of tutorials for building items and crafting buildings and more. Here are:

If you have a child who is just starting out playing Minecraft, YouTube is a great place to find tutorial videos for them to follow. You can find any video from How to Build Your First Base to How to Make An Entire Survival Village.

Minecraft and How it Helps Kids with ADHD

It is amazing how one game can help kids with ADHD channel their energy and help them focus. Minecraft and ADHD seem to go hand in hand. From being able to help children build skills, help with memory and help them to socialize with other children and teens. However, there should be a balance to their everyday lives so that they don’t become too obsessed with wanting to play Minecraft all day, every day. Parents should give them structure after playing the game, as well as things that will keep their minds focused and challenged. How can Minecraft help your child(ren) with ADHD?

For more apps and games that are fun and boost your brainpower, read 17 Best Apps for Your Brain That Are Fun and (Mostly) FreeThe .

Featured image promotional image for Minecraft via Facebook

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