By Dominick Sirianni

As the father of a 7 year old (Connor), I’m used to the waves of childhood obsessions. Thomas the Train became Transformers. Superman, Spiderman, Thor and Iron Man rolled in and out . Posters and toys weren’t enough – Connor had to be the character.

Almost a year ago to the day, Connor was messing around with YouTube on my phone and showed me a video. Something called Minecraft Style. I had no idea what it was so I told Connor it looked cool. Little did I know that within a year, Minecraft would be a household word for us.

Like any unnamed character from The Walking Dead, once a child is bitten by Minecraft, they zombify. As a parent, this was scary at first. During the first few months, we pushed back on Connor’s requests to download the game. Relenting, we approved the Lite (free) version. Due to good grades at school, we eventually ponied up the eight bucks so he could download the full version.

If you’re a Minecraft parent, you need to know these three things:

1) You are far from alone.

2) Minecraft can be fun for adults too.

3) Some educators believe it’s a great learning tool.

I’ve done a lot of research on Minecraft. I’ve watched my son play. I’ve played with him. I’ve watched others play. Some teachers describe Minecraft as Legos for the next generation. I was in 8th grade grade when we got our first computer. I started playing games like SimCity and Civilization. From those games I learned geography, history, planning, systems management and logic.

As parents, my wife and I are managing Connor’s Minecraft time. It’s a reward when he’s good at school. It lets him explore a new environment and figure out how things interact. It’s sort of like a gaming version of what we do when we go away to college.

Even with educational activities, moderation is key. Here are three pieces of advice to parents with kids who play Minecraft:

Make a little time to play together

Don’t go in cold. Spend a few dollars on a Quick Start Guide.

Watch the YouTube videos of others playing. Sometimes the language is a little rough but that’s when watching it together is a great way for a parent to pick up on the learning opportunities you want to reinforce when you begin playing.