Building a Safer Internet with Minecraft: Education Edition

Laylah Bulman
April 19, 2022

As a parent of three children, seeing my kids going online can mean that they are learning, connecting with family, playing with their friends, and having fun. While technology and gaming can have a positive impact on our lives, understanding (and knowledge of) safe use is essential. It’s crucial that children and families learn how to navigate the Internet and safe online gaming – to stop and think, before they click. These are important skills they can use throughout the rest of their lives.

As part of building a better world through the power of play, Minecraft: Education Edition has created a new immersive world, CyberSafe: Home Sweet Hmm that is designed to help young people learn to recognize common threats on the Internet, build strategies for protecting themselves and their information, and know where to go if they need help. It’s a fun way for students to learn about online safety while playing in their favorite blocky universe!

CyberSafe: Home Sweet Hmm is a fun and creative introduction to cyber safety for children aged 7—12. It’s available for free to all Minecraft: Education Edition users on PCs, iPads, Chromebooks and Xbox. The name “CyberSafe: Home Sweet Hmm” comes from the familiar sound of Minecraft’s iconic Villagers, who don’t speak but rather grunt “hmm.” In the CyberSafe adventure, this sound also represents the act of pausing to think about how to navigate the Internet safely.

Players begin the game in their virtual home, where they’ll meet the Trusted Adult, a non-player character (NPC) that acts as a guide through the game. From there, players progress through four pillars of cyber safety, from verifying their contacts’ identities and protecting their passwords to phishing prevention and avoiding scams. CyberSafe features four challenges:

  1. Want to play online with me?
    A friend from school invites the player into an online game and shares their username. But when players make their way through the Internet to the game lobby, they run into a problem—there are four friend requests, all with very similar handles. They’ll have to discern which friend request to accept based on the details of the usernames. This activity aims to reinforce the idea of connecting safely with others online.
  2. Online maze? I can complete it!
    The player travels through the Internet to arrive at a maze where the Pro Gamer NPC waits for them. The NPC says they have cheat codes to help the player through the winding maze. They must decide whether it’s safe to exchange their login information for the codes. This activity is designed to remind young players about not exchanging login information with anyone.
  3. New emerald armor?! Definitely!
    The Trusted Adult has ordered new emerald armor from MineMart, but they’ve received a message about an issue with the order. The player must travel through the Internet to MineMart, where they’re told they’ll need to enter their account information. Then, they must choose whether to provide that info. This activity is a reminder to secure personal information and not share with others.
  4. Yummy! Pumpkin pie!
    The Trusted Adult asks the player to buy a pumpkin pie from a familiar site online. But when the player searches, they find several different results for pumpkin pies. Their player’s goal is to choose the correct product based on familiarity, reviews, recommendations, and other sources of trust. This activity reminds young players to assess quality of information based on a variety of factors.

In each of these scenarios, players not only have the chance to make decisions about the right or wrong course of action, but also learn to seek advice from their Trusted Adult. These challenges teach the player how to practice thinking before they click and reinforce that they can rely on the support of a trusted adult – a parent, caregiver or other adult they trust – to guide them safely through life on the Internet. The challenges also encourage conversations between the player and their trusted adult so they can learn, grow, and play together.

Once players have completed the game, they’ll have an opportunity to reflect on what they’ve learned.

Share CyberSafe: Home Sweet Hmm with a student in your school, family, or community today:

We also encourage parents and caregivers to explore tools for supporting safer Internet behavior and gaming. Download the free Xbox Family Settings app to use simple tools to manage your child’s console gaming and download the Microsoft Family Safety App to unlock physical and digital safety features that empower you and your family to create healthy habits and protect the ones you love. Importantly, “CyberSafe: Home Sweet Hmm” can also serve as a conversation starter to keep players engaged about online safety.

Xbox is deeply invested in the safety and well-being of our players. Just last year, Microsoft acquired long-time partner Two Hat, a leading content moderation solution provider, with a vision to build better experiences for everyone. Additionally, our text chat filters empower players to customize their gaming experience and decide what kind of content is ok to receive and what is not. The filters automatically block content before it reaches the player and they are a great way to help prevent negative experiences. Our players are at the center of everything we do, and we’re committed to providing choice in how they play.

Safer Internet Day 2022 was a meaningful opportunity to work toward a digital world where everyone, including students, parents, caregivers, and educators, is empowered to use technology responsibly, respectfully, critically, and creatively. There is more work to do, but we are committed to continued improvements. Together, let’s work toward not just a safer Internet, but a better online world.

Written by

Laylah Bulman

Laylah Bulman is a passionate advocate for immersive, inclusive game-based learning for all students. As senior business program manager for Minecraft: Education Edition, she leads strategy and content for computer science, cybersecurity and esports, producing leading learning experiences for students around the world, such as Minecraft’s Hour of Code. Laylah spearheaded the creation of Minecraft Esports and Microsoft Esports Teacher Academy, building community of thousands of credentialled esports educators across the globe. Prior to joining Microsoft, Laylah was enterprise director for LEGO Education and helped lead the North America Scholastic Esports Federation, where she was responsible for international expansion through partnerships with the US Department of State and global Minecraft-based challenges. Laylah hails from Miami, USA, where she was a STEM educator and school administrator for 16 years. As a parent and teacher of children with ASD, she promotes STEM+CS through a lens of equity and inclusion. She is a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and graduate of the University of Virginia.