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Writer of Viral Minecraft Sex Mod Article Tells the Rest of Her Story

Parent.co recently published a first-person account of one mom’s experience discovering the existence of sex mods for Minecraft. To date, the post has been shared over 129,000 times.

Nowhere in the piece did the writer, Amy Betters-Midtvedt, claim that sex mods were created or made available by Mojang, the company that produces the wildly popular video game.

Far from calling out Mojang or intending to discredit the many purported benefits of Minecraft, the point of Amy’s piece was simply to spell out the changes she made in her own home regarding her kids and the use of technology. What was meant to be a simple story about learning to pay more attention became an opportunity for some people to level unkind and baseless accusations against the writer.

Not all of the responses were negative. Many parents expressed their gratitude at being made aware of the existence of sex mods and for the reminder that, as Amy says, kids and tech is not a “set it and forget it” situation.

As the editor who chose and published the piece, I felt it was appropriate that Amy be given a chance to tell the rest of her story.

Parent Co: My sense of the negative responses to your piece was that people were passionately defending Minecraft. They thought that your piece was attacking Minecraft. What’s been interesting to me is how many people missed the point.
Your point was not “Minecraft is awful. Your kids should stop playing it.” You were saying, “Hey, this happened to me. It changed the way things were done in my house.” People didn’t even get to that part.

Amy: I think some people didn’t read beyond the Minecraft part of the story. The funniest part was while I was sitting down reading the comments, several of which said something like, “Shame on you for ruining Minecraft,” and, “You’re banning your kids from the joy,” my five-year-old was sitting next to me playing Minecraft.

One of the main points of criticism was to say, “You have to do so much work to find a sex mod in Minecraft.” Can you explain how your daughter encountered the sex mod.

What she actually saw was – in a kid room, a kid world – a secret room with a bed in it. And there was a Minecraft character that was crouching down over and over and then trying to go by her character and kept putting its head up. And then in the chat (the other player) was asking her, “Will you have sex with me? Sex is this…” And then she told me, “Words with body parts, Mom. Telling me what you do when you have sex.”

In order to be able to say the word “sex” without alerting the censors in a kid-friendly world the person chatting with my daughter put a colon or a space in between the letters. My kids said this is common if someone is being “inappropriate.”

In addition to that, my kids do watch a lot of Minecraft videos. Then it all came rushing out, after that happened. “And Mom, I’ve seen videos and I found this and it’s all about the sex mod.” It was all jumbled together.

Honestly, the technicalities of what the (critics are) saying, I’m sure are right. But that’s not the point – whether she was seeing that exact mod or if she was seeing someone act something out that was like a mod. To me it wasn’t even about Minecraft.

To respond to some of the criticism that I should have done more research, well, had I been writing a researched article about how Minecraft works and the technicalities of that so we all know how to keep our kids safe, that would be a different story.

This was really just my experience that my kid had and if it could happen to me it could happen to you. I wish I had read about it some place so I would have at least known. Because it is so simple – my son told me how you turn off the chat. If the chat had been off, no one could have talked to her. So she would have seen this weird crouching thing happen, and she could have just moved on.

I think it was the combination of those two things that she saw, as well as the things she had encountered online that she hadn’t told us about. Not only in Minecraft, but in other different chat videos – some of those are very risqué.

It’s that piece of it that really was the spirit (of the post) and I feel badly that it was lost because I maybe didn’t use some of the terminology correctly.

It’s true. People are certainly parsing your words. But you never mention Mojang, the maker of Minecraft. You never say that sex mods are an official part of the game.

I never blamed them. The blame was completely on me. I don’t expect (Mojang) to keep my kids safe. I don’t think that’s the job of any outside entity or company or person. That’s my job. I get why that’s happening.

What I tried to say later on in the article (but I don’t think anyone ever got to) is that I’ve become closer with my kids because I’m taking an interest in something they love. I’m learning about it, but they don’t care about that part. They’re so excited I know now what a mod is!

You’re able to relate to them on that level.

Exactly. Which is a wonderful thing about technology and a wonderful part of Minecraft and all these other games that we like to play together at home.

The point is to do your homework. This happened to me. You might want to take a look. If you choose to shut all devices down at your house, or if you choose to let your kids keep playing, either is great. But it’s your choice. It shouldn’t be for me to say what you should do for your kids. You should always go look for more information, always question what you see, no matter who’s writing it.

In that vein, I’m wondering what has been the most surprising result of writing this piece?

I always thought I had a pretty thick skin… I was so surprised by how hurtful the comments were and how they got to me so quickly. It’s impossible not to have that human reaction. Even though these are people I’ve never met, it felt like a crushing blow to me. That initial reaction of feeling like I had to defend myself. I was up at 1:30 in the morning feeling like I had to respond to all these people. It was a very visceral reaction.

(Also) the shock that someone’s response is to immediately go to, “You’re a complete, horrible liar. Nobody should believe a word you say ever about anything,” instead of, “I think maybe you used the word ‘mod’ wrong here.”

Why is that not your response? That was shocking to me. How many people’s first response was to think, “You’re an absolute, horrible, terrible person.” What a crazy default option that is.

Well, it’s quite an accomplishment, in a sense – to write something that strikes this kind of nerve. I know it wasn’t all fun and you were on the receiving end of some unnecessarily accusatory and nasty comments, but you did something that not a lot of people do. You wrote something that hundreds of thousands of people read. Of those hundreds of thousands, I think most of them were positively impacted by what you wrote.

That’s my hope. If a few people start checking in with their kids or have that conversation, then I feel like that’s awesome.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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I had big plans to be a "good mom" this summer. There were going to be chore charts, reading goals, daily letter writing practice, and cursive classes. There would be no screen time until the beds were made, and planned activities for each day of the week.

Today was the first day of summer vacation and our scheduled beach day. But here's what we did instead: Lounged in our pj's until 11 am, baked the girl's pick, chocolate chip cookie brownies, started an art project we never finished, then moved to the pool.

It's so easy to be pressured by things we see on social. Ways to challenge our kids and enrich their summer. But let's be real—we're all tired. Tired of chores, tired of schedules and places to be, tired of pressure, and tired of unrealistic expectations.

So instead of a schedule, we're doing nothing this summer. Literally NOTHING.

No camps. No classes, and no curriculums.

Instead, we're going to see where each day takes us. I've dubbed this the "Summer of Me," so workouts and clean eating are a priority for me. And also giving our girls the freedom to pick what they want to do.

We may go to a local pool and check out the swimming programs. And we join the local YMCA. But whatever we do—it will be low key.

It will include family time, too much TV, a few trips, lots of sunshine, some new roller skates, water balloons, plenty of boredom, rest, relaxation, and reading. (Because mama likes to read!)

So if you haven't figured out what you're doing this summer, you're not alone. And guess what? It's OKAY! Your kids will be fine and so will you.

Originally posted on Kristen Hewitt's blog. Check out her post on 30 ways to have fun doing almost nothing this summer.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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When we consider all the skills our kids will need to succeed in the future, what comes to mind? Perhaps creativity, tech skills, or an excellent understanding of math might be at the top of many parents' lists. Social-emotional skills, like empathy, compassion, or the ability to understand another person's viewpoint may not be the ones you thought of right away, but deep down you know they matter.

We've all had those co-workers who didn't know how to listen to our ideas or friends who couldn't compromise with others. We know that in the work world and in our personal life, emotional skills are key to developing and maintaining healthy relationships.

If you are the parent of a toddler, you know that young children are inherently self-centered. It's not some faulty aspect of their character or a misstep of parenting skills. Young children simply do not have the brain maturity to consider another person's perspective or needs just yet—their brain physically is not ready to handle that kind of mental work.

However, child development research shows us that we can do a few things along the developmental path to help foster social-emotional skills in our kids. With a little help from us, our kids' brains can develop with meaningful connections that tune them into the feelings of others.

Here's how:

1. Treat others how you want your kids to treat others.

How we talk to our kids becomes their internal dialogue. We know from research that this goes for emotional skills as well. A recent study showed that when parents talk to their kids more about how other people might be feeling, the kids had better perspective-taking abilities—the ability to see a situation from another person's point of view.

This, of course, is the basis of many emotional skills, especially empathy. Just by talking about another person's feelings, kids begin to develop those crucial brain connections that help them develop empathy.

It's worth pointing out that very young children under ages 3-4 do not have the brain maturity to really understand another person's perspective. They lack a crucial skill that psychologists call Theory of Mind, meaning they can't understand the mind of another person.

However, our urgings and thoughtful phrasing to point out how another person might be feeling can only help them down this developmental path. Then, once their little brain matures, they will be in the habit of hearing and understanding the feelings of others.

2. Model positive emotional behavior in daily life.

It's probably not surprising to learn that how we react to our kids' feelings influences their emotional development. When your child gets upset, do you get angry or ruffled by their big emotions? We are all human, of course, so sometimes our kids' emotions are the exact triggers that fuel our big feelings, too. However, if we can remain the calm in the emotional storm for our kids, their development will benefit. Through modeling emotional regulation, over time our kids will learn how to self-regulate as well.

One study, in fact, showed that toddlers whose parents exhibited anger or over-reacted to tantrums were likely to have more tantrums and negative emotionality by the end of the study. However, the opposite dynamic can happen, too. Parents who model firm, but calm emotional regulation help their kids learn these skills as well.

3. Don’t be afraid to show your emotions.

Many times, we feel that one of our main jobs as a parent is to protect our children from the big, often overwhelming emotions of adults. For instance, we try not to break down crying or become red-faced with anger in front of our kids. It just feels too big for them to handle and perhaps not developmentally appropriate.

As they mature, however, older kids are able to handle a bit more discussion and expression of honest emotions. Have you noticed that kids usually pick up on the fact that you are upset even if you try to hide it? Kids are naturally curious and, many times, very sensitive to the emotional tenor at home. If they are developmentally ready, this can be a good time to have more discussions about emotions and how to handle them.

For example, my 9-year-old is playing a lot of baseball this summer and always wants me to pitch to him so he can practice batting. Now, I am not a very skilled player so my pitches often go off course or are too weak. He had gotten in the habit of correcting my pitching or (more likely) complaining about it every time we played.

After repeated experiences with this, I was not only annoyed but it also sort of hurt my feelings—so I finally told him how I felt. Guess what? His behavior at practice time changed dramatically! The mere fact of him realizing that his mom has feelings too really made him think about his words more carefully.

These types of interaction can become part of your "emotion coaching." It may sound silly but it can make a big impact for kids, especially as they grow older and are more able to really understand the emotional lesson. On some level, it's nice that our kids think we are superheroes, but it's also crucial that they understand that we are still human, with real feelings.

The magic of helping our kids develop empathy doesn't happen in well-planned lessons or elaborate activities. The real magic happens in the small, simple interactions and discussions we have with our kids each day.

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Sometimes it can feel like you never get a minute to even finish a thought—let alone a to-do list. When your day is packed with caretaking, your own needs get pushed back. So when you finally get to lie down at the end of the day, all those thoughts are waiting for you. While we haven't figured out the secret to keeping you from over-analyzing every.single.thing. (sorry, mama!), we do believe you must carve out time for you. Because that rest is just as important—and you've certainly earned it.



PS: We spoke to Jessica Alba and she gave us the lowdown on why she stopped breastfeeding, and Nordstrom is having their anniversary sale until August 5th. Here's everything we want!

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