If you have any children over the age of three and under the age of 20, chances are you have heard of Minecraft.  If not, it’s a simple video game in which players build structures.  There’s almost no violence, and the graphics look very blocky since it’s built in 16-bit.  The pieces look like giant Legos.  Nonetheless, kids these days are completely obsessed with it.

boy with video game contoller

Kids use video games as learning tools now. Image: Shutterstock

We recently visited a fourth grade classroom and spoke with students about it.  They were able to tell us how “awesome” the game is and exactly how you play it.  At times, the kids were talking too fast to make any sense of it.  What was clear was that they all seemed to love it…a lot.

So, the question is how we can turn a love of this video game into a learning experience.  Many teachers are already doing just that.  They claim that Minecraft, which came out in 2011, teaches “exploration, creativity and even collaboration.”

Recently, a school in Stockholm, Sweden decided to make Minecraft obligatory for 13-year-old students.  The school wanted to use the game to teach “about city planning, environmental issues, getting things done, and even how to plan for the future,” said a teacher at the Viktor Rydberg school.

The game is being used to teach foreign languages, history, physics and science.  Many teachers believe the game helps teach kids to use technology appropriately and learn positive social interaction in an online environment.

boy plays video game

Minecraft is used to teach. Image: Shutterstock

Studies have actually shown that video games can have a positive impact on kids.  Some kids improved their hand-eye coordination by up to 12 percent, increased their problem-solving ability and memory, according to a study by S.R.I. International, a Silicon Valley research group.

However, the long-term effects of playing video games are not known.  Researchers do recommend limited exposure, especially with younger children.