The [Heartbreaking] Reason Why My Son Plays Minecraft

Forbes has recently published an article about why Minecraft is shaping a generation — and why it’s a good thing. The link is here:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/emilywillingham/2014/04/26/minecraft-is-shaping-a-generation/

Video games: they are both a blessing and a curse. If you are a parent, then you know what I mean. On one hand, nothing keeps your kiddos quiet and entertained like a good video game. On the other hand, you are swamped with guilt and worry: am I creating a permanently lazy child? What about playing outside, like I did as a child? Just like every other household, video games is an ongoing source of contention in our home. How much is too much?

The fact that I, myself, play a few video games does not help. How am I supposed to suggest he can’t play, when it is all I want to do? As a neurotypical (well, whatever that is!) person, I get the following out of the role-playing game Age of Chaos on IoS: I have made friends, and I get an escape from the troubles in my life. In the behavior of all organisms, we repeat behaviors that we get various rewards out of: whether those be primary, secondary, or tertiary rewards, there is typically something we “get out” of a behavior that we repeat.

I always assumed my son Christian felt the same way. It wasn’t until the conclusions of a major (video-game induced) meltdown did he explain to me what he gets out of playing video games.

And my heart broke into a million pieces.

“Mom,” he said to me, “Do you know what I play video games? I do it because nobody likes me in real life. But on [my games], I’m just a regular kid, and people like me. I have a full “friends list” with people that actually like me. In real life, nobody except you and dad can stand me.”

This is the child that feels that nobody in "real life" can "stand him."  But in the virtual world, he can be free to be himself and still be appreciated, liked, and even respected.

This is the child that feels that nobody in “real life” can “stand him.” But in the virtual world, he can be free to be himself and still be appreciated, liked, and even respected.

These are the words of a 6th grader with Aspergers’ syndrome (or Autism Spectrum Disorder Type 1, according to the DSM V).

I feel that we should use every tool we can to help bridge the gap between our Autistic kiddos and their neurotypical peers. This will give them more friends, which will help them avoid depression and anxiety in adolescence and early adulthood, decrease amounts of bullying, and just overall improve the kiddos quality of life. This article by Forbes encourages the use of games like Minecraft in the classroom: not just for the autistic kiddos but for the neurotypical children as well.

So… Why not?

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11 responses to “The [Heartbreaking] Reason Why My Son Plays Minecraft

  1. Excellent! As the parent of an autistic youngster who loves Minecraft and other online games I share your concerns, especially about overuse of the internet. Although he may feel it, your son is not alone.

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    • They sure do love their Minecraft, don’t they?

      I think it’s a great tool to help our ASD kiddos connect with their NT classmates. 🙂

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  2. That is heartbreaking. It reminds me of the reason I read so much as a child. Now, I do sometimes play computer for that reason. Anyway, thank you for a touching and honest post.

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    • My heart broke into a thousand pieces when he said that to me. Kids at his school are SO mean! It’s hard to handle. IEP meeting scheduled for May 19 and they are supposed to have a written safety plan for him at that time. ::sad sigh::

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  3. That is so true, but also with NT kids that have social issues. Games level the playing field. My son once said, they are missing out since I would be such a good friend. . I liked his outlook better. It did not bother him as it did the rest of us. I think that is his saving grace, he does not feel the same as I do. We have had a few instances like this where I knew he looked at life different. Such as expressing what you feel about a POEM in JR High, His response was “it is a POEM”. He felt nothing for it.

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    • **Nods** What’s amazing is that if we incorporated games like Minecraft into a middle-school education, we would provide a “leveling ground,” for both NT and ASD kiddos. A study has been done (I think in Sweden) where they incorporated Minecraft into the kiddos’ education (they had a class dedicated to the game, tests, everything!). What they found is that they autistic children and the NT children were able to — using minecraft — create and build friendships. The social and communication challenged kiddos started developmentally catching up, and there were less counts of bullying, harassment, and teasing.

      These games really do level the playing field for ALL kids!

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  4. Pingback: On MineCraft & Mommihood | My Puzzling Piece: A Glance Into A Puzzling Existance·

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