Your kid likely has a collection of skins in Fortnite. They have probably built dozens of carefully manicured worlds in Minecraft. They might even have caught a whole bunch of Pokemon.
It might be tempting to assume that these things aren’t important because they are “just games,” but it is important to remember that these digital belongings have value and need to be treated as such (by both parents AND kids.)
We live in a cash-driven society. So our first instinct is always to try and assign a cash value to things. But, that doesn’t work with the video game space. Part of that is because selling an item within a game for real-world dollars is generally against the terms of service. The other part of this equation is that some of these items can become exceedingly rare. For example, a Fortnite account that has the “Renegade Raider” skin would be almost priceless because it has an incredibly rare skin that is highly coveted by Fortnite players. The takeaway here is that while we might not be able to exchange our skins for real-world cash, they are still valuable. Encourage your kids to take pride in what they have collected. I’m not saying that we need to teach our kids to flex on everyone for their awesome stuff. I mean that we should want our kids to take account security seriously and make good passwords to protect themselves and to not engage in behaviors that might get them banned.
Sometimes the “real” value is based on time and effort spent. Minecraft is a great example here. Our kids can spend dozens (if not hundreds) of hours working on their worlds. They can be intricate creations, but they can also be survival worlds that they have explored for literal days. This is quite the adjustment for parents who might have grown up with games that were less “permanent.” We need to remember the amount of work that can go into some of these worlds and respect them like we would “real objects.” For example, I don’t think anyone would think it would be reasonable to throw a LEGO Death Star model out the window as punishment for bad behavior. Deleting a Minecraft world can be the same type of energy (or maybe even worse).
We need to instill these values in our children as well. They need to respect their friends’ digital property just like they do their own and we need to reinforce it. The bottom line is that other people’s stuff is just as important as our own whether it be “real” or digital. We have to encourage our kids not to do things that can damage, disrupt, or delete their friends’ stuff. For example, we need to prepare our kids and make sure that they know not to take things from their friends’ chests or use TNT to destroy buildings when visiting their friends Minecraft worlds.
It will require a shift in thinking for a lot of us, but it is very important that we start thinking of digital objects as “real” as we lean further into our digital future.
What questions do you have for me? Leave them in the comments and I’ll respond!
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