I've been perusing this forum for a couple hours and I can't find anything approaching a good beginner guide to setting up Minecraft, specifically something for us parents out here who
1 - have a kid who wants Minecraft on their PC
2 - have a kid who watches YouTube videos obsessively about people playing all these cool MODs for Minecraft.
My kid and I have played Minecraft both on the phone (mobile version) and on the PS3 (what, my PS4 isn't backwards compatible), so we at least know what to do when we're playing, but it's setting up the PC version that is where some handholding could come in helpful.
I know Minecraft's been out for a few years and I do have a leg up on other parents because I understand that Minecraft for Windows 10 is the neutered version of ACTUAL Minecraft (Java version). Two other sets of parents (of 2 of my kid's friends) have already fallen down that pitfall and had to buy both Minecraft for Windows 10 (not-quite-Mobile edition) and the Java version (once the kids realized they couldn't "mod" anything).
I at least knew better and picked up the Java version, from the Mojang site no less; apparently you can't find it for any discount price anywhere else without it being some sort of fake bootleg or a potentially false code.
So now I had Minecraft and installed it and... no idea how to add "mods". So I went to several different sites, watched a few Youtube and I found your Mods FAQ here, and I can so far summarize what I "got"
We have Minecraft 1.12.2 which is the BLEEDING EDGE version of Minecraft. You can find this out from the bottom left of the Minecraft screen.
Mods only work on the version that they've been coded for, and upgrading a mod is done by the mod developer and it is a pain in the ass, so it's not done easily.
I installed Forge from the Forge site (and avoid hitting any of the advertisement links; wait for the SKIP on the top right); needed to pick the right version of Forge for the Minecraft version as well. Then we needed to install the Java Runtime for version 8, so that was another download we did through Ninite (not that Oracle's site isn't safe...)
So I had all that, it was on to figuring out FINDING and installing MODs. Apparently none of the mods my kid wants are compatible with v1.12.2 yet, so I had no idea what to do. Then I found under installation configurations that you can create a new world at a downgraded version. So that's the next step to try.
I did Google around for some mod sites and found out through this forum FAQ (via the GitHub list) that the most popular site on Google searches for minecraft mods (9minecraft.net) is very NOT SAFE and that I should instead use the list from the FAQ.
At this point, I need more guidance and hand-holding; what are some good (read: safe) mods to install; nothing that just changes the torches from red to green or makes them "realistic", but something actually fun and popular.
How do I do it?
Is there a good guide out there on this, or do I have to power through some FAQs?
Should I just downgrade and if so, what's the most popular version to downgrade to and why?
Any help would be appreciated. You'd think with the time that minecraft has been available, someone would be maintaining a new-player /owner walk-through updated frequently.
Well if you want mods the official site ran by the company who bought/owns the forums is https://minecraft.curseforge.com/mc-mods . Anyways all mods on there are safe all you need to do is be wary of incompatibilities and make sure you're downloading for the right Minecraft version. If there is anything else you need help with just reply and I'll see if I can help.
Edit: Ok just realized you asked more than where to get mods. It depends on what mods your child wants as it would be better to find the average highest version all of the mods reach as in if most if not all the mods are 1.8 then go to 1.8. and like I said before it would be nice to have the list so I can see if the mods aren't on curse. (Some people for some reason don't use curse to upload mods.)
Edit 2: Ok I edit a lot I know but I feel like I should mention that the reason why sometimes mod developers don't post to curse is that the mod is at the latest game version but is in a prototype stage/early development or alpha/beta.
Ok...so you installed the appropriate forge version...that's a good start. Launch the game using that forge version and you'll end up with a couple new folders in your main Minecraft folder..."config" and "mods". All you have to do then is go to the top of this page where it says "Mods on Curse", do a search, find your mod for whatever version you're running and download it. Then take that download and put it into that new "mods" folder that was created when you launched forge. Relaunch the game and you should have your game running with your mod that you put in there. Easy peasy! Feel free to PM me if you have more in-depth questions. =)