Everyone’s kids are playing Minecraft. That may not be literally true. But, it feels like it.
Odds are, someone in your household either plays the game or knows someone who does.
As a stand-alone game, there’s very little for a parent to worry about with Minecraft. However, a lot of kids become interested in playing on servers. That is, they want to play with other Minecraft fans via the internet. That’s an entirely different animal.
We don’t have to detail the potential dangers of the internet to any parent. But, we have five kid-friendly Minecraft servers, with a bit about exactly what makes them kid-friendly. There are also a few things that you should consider before even permitting your kids to make the jump to server play.
Text Chat vs. Voice Chat vs. No Chat.
Most Minecraft servers have text chat enabled, meaning that players can write messages to each other. Voice chat means that the server makes use of a program like Discord, Mumble, or Ventrilo to allow players to speak to each other via headset or other devices. Some parents may find more peace of mind if their child is not on a server with voice chat.
Codes of Conduct
Each server has its own Code of Conduct–and you should take the time to carefully look over each one. These documents explain exactly what is and is not permitted within the server, and the recourse for any rule breaking. It’s a good idea to go over this with your children who want to play, so they learn what their rights as players are and how to deal with unpleasant situations they may find themselves in. Take some time to make up some scenarios and ask your children how they would respond. What is and is not allowed? Make sure they understand.
Some servers will essentially allow anyone to join who applies. But, some servers have a vetting process. This means that your child can’t play right away, and will have to fill out an application. However, it does also mean that the server runner and moderators have a pretty good idea of who is on that server. Each player who is approved is on a ‘whitelist’ of players allowed on that server. At the very least, this can save your child the annoyance of dealing with some bot players–programs who are not actual humans. If you are worried about your child’s safety, this may be something to consider.
PvP vs. PvE.
PvP is short for ‘player versus player,’ and PvE is short for ‘player versus environment.’ How does your child feel about playing against other players? What if there are older players? Or, would they rather only be able to play against the in-game monsters and the environment of the world? Some children are uncomfortable in a non-cooperative game setting, and you should take this into account.
Some servers allow PvP, and others may not. Some servers also only allow PvP in very specific areas. It’s a good idea to present these ideas to your little Minecrafter and find out their personal opinions. For example, one child may want to play on a certain server–but be against PvP for their own play. Is that server still all right with them if PvP is only in a certain area, and they avoid it? Or would they prefer a different server, with the knowledge that they won’t have to worry about PvP?
Oh man. Griefing. I.e. a parent and child’s worst nightmare. Griefing is a term that’s used to refer to when a player breaks, steals or otherwise makes a mess of another player’s area, in-game possessions, or home. Many servers have plugins that prevent this altogether. But, just in case, you may want to check with a server moderator or the Code of Conduct to see if the server has a ‘roll back’ policy that will allow them to return your child’s home to a pre-griefed state. Griefing is almost universally banned in the Code of Conduct in Minecraft servers. It still might be a good idea to research how to get your child’s things rolled back ahead of time and keep a paper with instructions on them near the computer.
Play Minecraft Together?
Nevermind what some people might say: Minecraft isn’t just for children. It may be worth finding out if an older child or trusted adult is willing to play with your child, on the same server. Maybe you could even become a Minecrafter yourself, and have a fun activity to share with your little one. Who knows? Maybe one day a week could even become a special ‘Minecraft’ family night!
This server is committed to being family-friendly. They have a clear Code of Conduct and rules system, as well as a tutorial. This could be great for a younger child, who may need help learning the ins and outs of server play. Cubeville also features a land and chest protection system–so no need to worry about griefing. You can check them out further at www.cubeville.org.
If you have an older child, or you are interested in playing with your child, this may be the server for you. Like Cubeville, Towncraft has grief protection in place, so no need to worry about that. But, it also has a bit of a story narrative going on–wherein it’s up to the players to rebuild the world after a meteor crash. There are zombie monsters–which may be a bit too much for some. So it’s better to think about that right out of the gate. There are also many parents and children playing together on this server–and it even has a parents’ guide in addition to a players’ guide! They are at towncraft.us.
Blocklandia gets our vote for being family friendly and white-listed. The moderators are active, and may even offer to give you a tour and personal house-building tutorial when you arrive! But, what really impresses us is the library–where each book has been written by a player. Your child can read books by other players there, and even write their own. There is no land protection in place, but there is protection for chests and doors. The mod team is very active and has a positive reputation for sorting out any griefing problems.
Autcraft is a slightly more unique server–it caters to children on the autism spectrum and their parents. Adults, some with autism, moderate the server and work hard to keep it a fun place. This is one case where it may just be better for you to read the testimonials. (http://www.autcraft.com/testimonials)
If you’ve got a family with multiple children who all like Minecraft, this may be the one for your household. It features multiple ‘worlds’ of varying difficulty and complexity. So an older child can play on the same server as a younger one, but not have to worry about being ‘stuck with the babies’ all the time. There is also an active connected forum, which can allow your child to show off their creations to other players, as well as find the answers to their questions.
Those are our top picks for kid-friendly Minecraft servers. Hopefully, it eased some of your fears about server play and gave you some methods to evaluate each server for you and your child’s needs. Let us know what you think about these servers in the comments. Happy crafting!