Special Report: Minecraft Mania

WATERFORD, N.Y. (NEWS10) – On any given night, you just might see 10-year-old Ben Paquin singing along with a Minecraft video. The Waterford resident loves all things Minecraft. Not just the game, but the very popular YouTube videos as well.

In fact, when NEWS10 ABC asked him what he would watch, if he could watch anything he wanted to, he answered, “Minecraft videos because Minecraft is so interesting. Because it has dragons.”

And that explains why he and thousands of other kids can rattle off the names of Minecraft video creators, like Stampylongnose. We asked parents on Facebook if they knew what Ben was talking about, and boy did they!

Dozens of parents said they thought it was an addiction, and that their kids could watch the videos for hours at a time.

Ben’s mother, Wendy, says she thinks “TV lacks a lot of new and interesting things for children who are brought up on video games.  And this is more or less where things are going with the younger generation.”

So we asked Dr. Frank Doberman, a child and family psychologist, to shed some light on this obsession with Minecraft videos, and he found kids are often watching them to learn how to play the game better.

“What’s one of the most motivating things for us?  It is gaining mastery,” he explained. “It’s a way of solving problems, and it’s a way of connecting with others. So it’s very seductive, and I’m not advocating it but it is not as passive as we think.”

But it can be as addicting as we think, and that is where the danger lies.

“I usually see this in 16, 17 or 18 year olds, and they can’t stop playing the game because they have this irrational belief that the only way they have social commerce is if they play the game,” Dr. Doberman said.

Dr. Doberman says one way to keep that from happening is to make sure your kids experience down time without any screens at all.

“We can’t use it as the easy thing it is to babysit and to occupy time,” he said.

Wendy couldn’t agree more.

“Moderation of course, with everything,” she said. “There is absolutely outdoor play, but this is what they really enjoy. It amazes me that it holds so much interest, but its kind of like the new frontier.”

A new frontier that so many parents are now forced to explore.

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