As a parent, you may think you're doing your due diligence when it comes to your child's use of his or her computer, laptop, smartphone and tablet. You've set the parental controls, and you monitor your child's online activity, but with so many threats out there it's hard to keep up.
We get it. That's why it's our goal to make things easier by sharing the information you need to know.
One of the latest threats that has been a wide topic of discussion has been over Minecraft's alleged "sex mods." Minecraft, as you may know, is a game designed for children. If you've never played Minecraft before, the game closely resembles virtual Legos where players build and explore virtual worlds.
When rumors around Minecraft's alleged "sex mods," began popping up, parents were naturally concerned. The rumors began on parenting blogs just before last weekend and spread from there.
Parent.co is believed to be the site where the claims first originated. In a post titled, "Everything Changed the Day I Learned Minecraft Has a Sex Mod," blogger Amy Betters-Midtwedt shared her experience of discovering that these mods exist. "I was going about my business when I suddenly found myself looking into the tearful eyes of one of my babies who was telling me that, not only was this kid playing Minecraft when she saw this, but she was also propositioned in this 'creative mode' room by another player."
Although Betters-Midtwedt didn't specifically accuse Mojang - Minecraft's developers - of adding these sex modules into the game, she also said nothing to squash that perception. The topic was then picked up by other parenting bloggers who made the same mistake.
As a result, the general message being spread across the web was that Minecraft did indeed include sex modules that contained adult content. But, a recent post by Snopes has debunked this rumor.
So, here's the truth: Minecraft does not include any sex mods developed by Mojang and included as part of official gameplay. However, individual players do have the ability to create their own mods, and some mods contain adult content.
Is there a risk that children playing Minecraft could be exposed to this inappropriate content? Yes. But, before jumping to any conclusions or taking hasty action, it's important that we all understand what the risks are and how they can be avoided.
When asked about this issue, Bec Oakley, owner of a Minecraft-related parental guidance website called MineMum, explained the following:
- Mods are unofficial game modifications that players can use to add and change things in the game.
- These add-ons are not official parts of the game but are made public so that anyone can download and use them.
- When you download Minecraft, these extra mods are not included with the game - they must be downloaded separately.
- Downloading these mods is completely voluntary and it is a manual process.
- If any of these mods are included in your child's gameplay it is because they downloaded them either intentionally, or accidentally.
- There are thousands of mods that are fun or beneficial add-ons, and they're completely appropriate for children.
- Still, some slip through the cracks since Mojang does not support, endorse or censor them.
- Mods have been in existence for years.
- To be clear, there is no "sex level" or sexual content in the official game of Minecraft.
So, how are kids installing these mods? Oakley explained that "Mods can be downloaded and applied to the game by any player who has access to the internet and knows how to Google for 'Minecraft mods.'" Oakley also clarified that you can't just stumble across these mods in regular gameplay as the parenting bloggers suggested in their posts.
"Kids aren't going to accidentally come across this mod without someone having installed it - either in their own game or on a multiplayer server that they're playing on. You can encounter YouTube videos of people playing with sex mods installed. I think that's a large part of where parents are freaking out."
Going back to Betters-Midtwedt's original blog post on the topic, she does bring up some valid points that all parents should consider.
"I thought I was doing my due diligence in the technology department," she explained. "We pay attention to how much time they spend online and limit it as well, even detoxing completely from time to time. We keep the apps they used restricted to the 10 and under age range, and Minecraft falls into this category. And still, this happened. Because, sadly where the kids are, the creepers will follow. (Minecraft pun intended.) And the creepers found my baby."
This is why we warn you regularly about dangerous apps your kids might encounter, such as Facebook's Lifestage, Yik Yak, Best Secret Folder and others. It's also why we share helpful tips on monitoring your child's private messaging, and bizarre internet trends that put kids at risk.
As a parent, the best thing to do is remain aware of the threats that are out there, and have regular conversations with your kids and teens.