Everyone's kids are playing Minecraft online. That may not be literally true. But, it feels like it. Odds are, someone in your household either plays the game Minecraft or knows someone who does.
As a stand-alone Minecraft game, there's very little for a parent to worry about for their kids with Minecraft. However, a lot of kids become interested in playing on Minecraft servers. That is, they want to play with other Minecraft fans via the internet. That's an entirely different animal.
We don't have to detail the potential dangers of the internet to any parent. But, we have updated our list to TEN kid-friendly Minecraft servers, with a bit about exactly what makes them kid-friendly. There are also a few things that you should consider before even permitting your kids to make the jump to Minecraft server play.
Most Minecraft servers have text chat enabled, meaning that Minecraft players can write messages to each other. Voice chat means that the server makes use of a program like Discord, Mumble, or Ventrilo to allow Minecraft players to speak to each other via headset or other devices. Some may find more peace of mind if their child is not on a Minecraft server with voice chat.
Each Minecraft server has its own Code of Conduct–and you should take the time to carefully look over each one. These documents explain exactly what is and is not permitted within the Minecraft server, and the recourse for any rule breaking.
It's a good idea to go over this with your children who want to play Minecraft, so they learn what their rights as Minecraft players are and how to deal with unpleasant situations they may find themselves in. Take some time to make up some scenarios and ask your children how they would respond. What is and is not allowed? Make sure they understand. This goes beyond Minecraft, as well.
Some Minecraft servers will essentially allow anyone to join who applies. But, some Minecraft servers have a vetting process. This means that your child can't play right away, and will have to fill out an application. However, it does also mean that the Minecraft server runner and moderators have a pretty good idea of who is on that Minecraft server.
Each player who is approved is on a 'whitelist' of Minecraft names allowed on that Minecraft server. At the very least, this can save your child the annoyance of dealing with some bot players–programs who are not actual humans. If you are worried about your child's safety, this may be something to consider.