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I Couldn't Believe This Happened to My Kid in Minecraft

Photograph by Youtube

My daughter's school was blown up. No students were harmed, but the main building on the campus was completely destroyed, as well as the nearby dorms.

Before your start racking your noggin trying to recall when this horrendous act took place on U.S. soil, I should mention that this attack didn't happen in reality. Rather in my daughter's carefully constructed Minecraft world.

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During an epic online building jaunt with a few friends, a stranger came into her multi-player session and bombed the school she had meticulously built—a school that took her hours to create. In an instant, her Minecraft world (and her trust in fellow players) was crushed.

Sure, no actual property was harmed. But the emotional pain and loss she felt was very much real. This was a form of terrorism, albeit a virtual one.

I shared this act of senseless online violence on my Facebook page, and fellow parents with Minecraft lovin' offspring were just as shocked as I was that this happened.

"WHAT?! This is a thing that can happen!?"

A malevolent gamer could come in and attack her land.

"Wtf!!!"

"No!!!!! That's horrible."

"Lmao! Bless her heart, her first REAL MMO experience! I'm so proud." (The last from a older gamer cousin).

I had thought this was a unique experience, that my daughter was just unlucky that this happened to her. But, as it turns out, she is far from alone. This form of gamer mayhem is an emerging trend, and the acts are performed by computer savvy bullies known as "griefers" (an apt name since they spread grief among unsuspecting players).

The platform that my daughter was playing was the Minecraft Pocket Edition (PE) version, a format that is popular with younger players. While she once only played in creative mode by herself, she began to engage in the multi-player mode so that she and a few friends from school could build, and create together. That multi-player choice made it possible for a stranger, one of these "griefers," to do damage with TNT, fire, water, lava and other tools. A malevolent gamer could come in and attack her land.

As it turns out, this is a growing problem, one that developers are trying to crack down on.

Destruction of one's online creations is bad enough, but a player can also be virtually "mugged." Beth Blecherman, founder of TechMamas.com, wrote about her son's experience of not just having his Minecraft inventory stolen but being lured by the promise of "free diamonds" to a no-holds-barred battle where players had to escape from being "killed."

Fellow players took the time to come and help her rebuild her school. Also, this experience opened my eyes.

"Lesson learned: there are no free diamonds either in Minecraft or in life," she wrote on her site.

It was painful lesson for my daughter, that dangers, albeit virtually, are around any cubic corner in Minecraft. It doesn't matter whether you are there with the intentions of being creative (like she was) or in survival mode (like she was forced into).

Still, there was some goodness that came out of the ruins. Fellow players took the time to come and help her rebuild her school. Also, this experience opened my eyes.

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Here are three things I learned that can prevent it from happening again:

Tips for keeping your kid's Minecraft world safe:

1. Don't do the multi-player mode. If your child is playing by herself, this won't be an issue.
2. Don't put "No Griefers Allowed" on your server description. They see this as an invitation.
3. If griefers do come into your child's world, instruct her not to engage in revenge. The cycle will then just continue. Instead have your kid take a break from Minecraft for awhile. This makes the griefer bored. Then, go in and rebuild.

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY Gaming Educators/Flickr

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