Friday, July 26, 2013

4 Minecraft Safety Tips, and My Summer in Their World

Yesterday, strangers invaded my stepkids' world! Usually vigilant about keeping tabs on their online play, we let our guard down and apparently they switched from creative mode on Minecraft to what is apparently attack mode*. With strangers.

I had about six weeks off this summer, and this is what it looked like:

Ten points for the home team: our girls, eight and ten, recognized the danger of playing with strangers and reported the situation directly. This morning I'm looking for ways to help them play in a more controlled environment.

Having talked with many, many, many parents and aunties and teachers about Minecraft safety this summer, I thought I should share my findings.  Hopefully, we can make the game a little safer for the tweens-and-younger who seemed to all find the game at the same time this year. I've got more thoughts about why the kids are on to something here, but that's for another day. Here are

Four Minecraft Links to Keep Your Kiddos Safe

  1. My Pinterest Board "Tech for Families" has links to kid-safe Minecraft videos, basic intros for parents, etc.
  2. An excellent, quick overview for parents of gameplay and safety issues to be aware of in Minecraft.
  3.  Kid Friendly Servers
  4. Tech educators and savvy parents, you could get/make your own server

Not interested in learning more? That's understandable, too. Enjoy this funny confession from a time-crunched, usually-attentive mommy.

*actually called survival mode

Monday, July 1, 2013


I'm redesigning the blog here and let's face it, my avid readers are going to notice.  Of course, they're all Chinese searchbots, so they can cope.

I attended ITSE last week. For the uninitiated, that's the International Society of Technical Educators. Yes, there are capes.

This was my first foray into this formidable society of teacher/hackers and edu-anarchists*, and I loved it. Meeting awesome educators (Adam Bellow! Rory Newcomb! the KidBlog guys! folks from Scholastic and Common Sense Media!) made me wonder, though: how will they find me on the internet? And I realized the answer was: they can't.  (not me: Sarah McManus not in Texas )

Ergo, blog update. with my actual name and work (with me when I wrote for Southwest Airlines. also me, Sarah McManus in Texas, when I wrote this blog about not-professional life.  also also, me. also also wik Sir Not Appearing in This Film)

For the uninitiated, "ergo" is what members of international societies call ego.

All that self-googling made me think about how we teach digital citizenship. Of course we want to keep kids safe, but I want kids and teachers to be find-able by the cool kids. I want the kids in my district whose lawn mowers are goats** to know they can get Minecraft shortcuts from some kid with no lawn in Mumbai.  I'd like to see teachers who graduated from my tiny school district, attended the local UT branch, and came back to teach here sharing their lesson plans with teachers in New Zealand***.

This year, I'll be asking a lot of questions, but one of them is, how can I help kids find awesome people, and how can I help them be recognized as awesome online? ...safely, smartly? I'll continue mulling these topics and more here. Out loud. Where awesome people might hear me.

* Never heard more educators questioning the value of the "college for everyone" theory in one place. More on this in the future.
**True story. 
***As an aside, what do they put in the water there? Their schools are awesome.