My son has recently started using TeamSpeak when he logs in Minecraft Homeschool. With it, he is now able to hear and speak with his virtual classmates and teammates. Previously, he would only use the in-game chat to communicate with them.
After doing Minecraft Homeschool a few days ago, we were getting ready to go out for a play date. When I asked my son to change his clothes, he said, “Let me just say goodbye to my friend.” He went back to the computer to say goodbye to his new friend, a teammate in his Minecraft Homeschool class.
I asked him about his new friend. He said they only know each other by their Minecraft usernames. My son doesn’t know where his friend lives; he only knows that when it’s morning where we are, it’s evening where his friend is (so my son thinks his friend is somewhere in the US).
My son calls him a friend because they talk and play Minecraft together online. While I have my old fashioned notion of friends as having to physically meet, talk and share experiences, my son makes friends in his virtual world as he does in his physical, everyday world. For him, people are friends when they play together, whether it happens in the playground or in an online multiplayer game. After all, behind these usernames and characters or avatars are real children who share his interests.
For as long as he is having fun and playing nicely in a safe and secure environment, I’m glad my son is happy to make new friends, virtual or otherwise.