Video games have long been the focal point of an argument about whether they are good or bad for our brains and mental health. Minecraft’s popularity, especially with young kids, has fueled this debate even more. Some say that Minecraft is bad for kids and should be avoided, while others hold that it’s valuable and educational. Let’s examine the ways Minecraft affects our brains and minds.
There is evidence that Minecraft’s effect on our brain and mental health is overwhelmingly positive since it increases cognitive function and problem-solving skills. We cannot ignore the few opposing sides, though, since Minecraft can also lead to addiction and obsession.
1. Minecraft Is Addictive
Minecraft is a fun game that allows for limitless possibilities and creativity. The problem is when children get addicted. Since Minecraft is an open-world sandbox game where almost anything is possible, children get a rush when they can experiment with things they couldn’t do in the real world, like building massive machines.
There is evidence that addiction is common in anyone playing Minecraft, especially children with ADHD. They might throw tantrums or behave in other negative ways when they are forced to leave the game. This is detrimental to their mental health and development.
2. Minecraft Can Become An Obsession
This is an extension of the addictive nature of Minecraft and other video games. Some kids have even reached the point where their Minecraft addiction spills over into a real-world obsession, where they can’t communicate or concentrate appropriately on any topic that is not Minecraft-related. This is not exclusive to Minecraft, though, since anything could become an obsession.
Obsession is never a good thing since it can inhibit the child’s learning potential, skew their worldview, and adversely affect their relationships and social skills. It could also lead to them neglecting more important things like homework, chores, social interaction, or even bathroom breaks.
3. Minecraft Can Expose Children To Violence And Bullying
This is not a part of Minecraft, as such, and the game has an E10 rating which means that it is safe for kids. But some multiplayer servers are poorly moderated (or not moderated at all, in some cases), which means that kids playing on those servers may be exposed to violence, hate speech, foul language, and bullying, all of which could cause mental health problems.
Children should never be allowed to play multiplayer Minecraft unsupervised. The game itself is safe to play, but once you connect to a world where other people are involved, you never know what could happen.
4. Minecraft Stimulates Creative Thinking
On the more positive side, Minecraft is structured so that there’s very little in the way of a story to play. People can play Minecraft for years and not even know that there’s actually a mass of background lore and a “final boss” to fight.
This unstructured gameplay model allows for limitless creativity, and not just in the ability to build almost anything. You can approach the game in any way that you like. If you want to start by planting crops for food, you can do that. Want to begin by mining and finding valuable ores? That’s fine too. You can play the game in any way you choose to, stimulating creative thinking.
5. Minecraft Can Relieve Stress
Minecraft creates an immersive world that allows you to escape from your real-life challenges and problems, at least for a little while. This reduces stress and helps us to relax. Even though the game comes with challenges and stressors of its own, a healthy subconscious mind can differentiate between the fact of the natural world around us and the fictitious threats of the game.
It’s often during these periods of relaxation that our subconscious minds can work through real-life challenges and come up with creative solutions.
6. Minecraft Improves Problem-Solving Skills
Minecraft’s open world allows us to find various solutions to a problem or a challenge. When faced with a mob, you can choose whether you want to run away, hide until it leaves, or try to fight it. Food shortages and hunger can also be dealt with in a variety of different ways.
When we solve problems in this fictitious game world, we learn to think of different ways to solve real-life problems and challenges as well.
7. Minecraft Improves Hippocampal Memory
Recent studies have found that playing certain video games, including Minecraft, increases the mass of the hippocampus and improves its ability to boost hippocampal memory. Hippocampal memory is crucial for children’s learning ability and assists adults in performing everyday routine tasks.
The study also found that it does not matter at what age you begin playing Minecraft. The spatial exploration of the gaming environment offers the same benefits regardless of the age of the Minecraft player.
8. Minecraft Improves Spatial Awareness
University College London found that games like Minecraft improves spatial awareness in the brain. The study even found that London taxi drivers that played games like Minecraft in their spare time remembered roads more quickly and avoided accidents more commonly than those who didn’t.
This improved spatial awareness increases a child’s ability to learn from their environment. Still, it’s also beneficial to adults (if you frequently forget where you left things like your keys, you could play Minecraft to improve your spatial awareness).
9. Minecraft Can Help You Fight Depression
The famous psychologist, Dr. Brian Sutton-Smith, made the statement that the opposite of “play” isn’t “work” but “depression.” He was a well-known specialist in the areas of play therapy for both children and adults, and he found that playing games (including Minecraft) could counteract the factors that lead to clinical depression.
A Stanford University study found that games like Minecraft stimulate two primary parts of the brain. One is the hippocampus, which affects learning, while the other is the part of the brain that leads to feeling fulfilled by achieving goals – a part of the brain that must be stimulated to counter depression.
10. Minecraft Improves Mental Health In General
Apart from the benefits to counter depression, studies have proven that many video games, and Minecraft in particular, effectively treat a range of mental illnesses or problems, including mood and temperamental disorders and anxiety.
Since playing Minecraft also increases your social connectedness and reduces loneliness, many mental problems can be avoided if children are allowed to play Minecraft (within limits) from a young age.
11. Minecraft Boosts The Brain’s Ability To Learn
Minecraft’s highly sophisticated teaching platform further supplements the improved hippocampal memory that comes from playing Minecraft. The fact that there’s an edition of Minecraft developed specifically for schools, called Minecraft Education Edition, is proof of this.
Minecraft is used in classrooms all over the world to teach various topics and subjects, including coding, science, geography, and mathematics. These topics are easier to learn while playing Minecraft due to the improved hippocampal memory and the aspect of having fun while learning.
12. Minecraft Improves Logical Ability
While Minecraft is an open-world platform, it has very structured systems in place that are purely based on logic. The crafting system is an example of this. To mine diamonds, you need at least an iron pickaxe. To get an iron pickaxe, you must have iron ingots and sticks. To get them, you must cut wood and make planks to craft the sticks, and you need to mine and melt iron ore to get iron ingots.
The logic side is intensified when you start experimenting with Redstone. Completing circuits and making mechanisms work requires copious amounts of logic and problem-solving skills.
13. Minecraft Helps Autistic People To Connect And Communicate
People with autism can often be challenging to connect and communicate with. Minecraft provides a platform for them to be themselves in a safe environment without judgment or complicated social cues.
Parents of autistic children have often used Minecraft as an effective tool to help them communicate and connect with their children. An excellent case in point is Autcraft; a Minecraft server developed specifically for autistic children and their families.
14. Minecraft Boosts Social Interaction
Problems with social interaction have been well-documented as being detrimental to a person’s mental health and wellbeing. Minecraft has many aspects that help develop proper social skills by crafting communities and allowing players to create the persona of the person they would like to be that they can then integrate into their everyday lives.
As we can see, Minecraft can have both good and bad effects on your brain and mental health. The good far outweighs the bad, though, and it’s crucial to keep a healthy balance so that you can avoid the harmful effects of addiction and obsession.