Clash of Clans: A Virtual Playground for Bullies?

Recently, I started talking to a few customers about Clash of Clans and wondered why so many were eager to block what I thought to be a fun, benign game. However, I found out that it is a lot more complicated than just an innocent game.

Clash of Clans, a very popular app played on smartphones is an online multiplayer game made by Supercell, a company in Helsinki, Finland.

The premise of the games is that players band together to create a community, or clan, and then attack others to earn gold and elixirs. It has all the features that you would image could easily pique the interest of any tween or teen including clan leaders, goblins, destruction and even has an in-game chat.

But what makes the game dangerous for some kidsclans is its cliquish and exclusionary nature. The game creates a kind of social hierarchy, with various tiers for troops, kings, queens and other characters. Clan leaders are also given the power to exclude users, or to promote or demote other members within the clan.

According to Nick Bilton in a New York Times article, Bilton describes his nephew’s reaction to his friends demoting him on “Clash of Clans” – he was a clan leader that had demoted a classmate. When he reinstated his friend, his classmates created a new clan and refused Bilton’s nephew access to the group. In other words, his nephew was excluded from a “Clash of Clans” community, and this caused anxiety in real life when his classmates ignored his requests to join the group.

According to Bilton, it became such a problem that teachers at school had to talk to students about the consequences of excluding others from clans.

One father, Jeremy Rosenthal, had been monitoring his own son’s “Clash of Clans” account and told Bilton: “The thing I’ve found with Clash of Clans is that because of the hierarchical structure, you have another possibility of excluding, or of creating, a great bond with friends.”

“The positive is that you can learn about technology in a relatively safe manner as you can only chat with people in your clan, and it teaches building and strategy. The bad side is that it can allow kids to overtly enforce, and create, very hierarchical bullying,” Rosenthal added.

Brian Crecente, news editor for the popular gaming website Polygon, said he went through a similar situation with his 14-year-old son. Crecente advised parents to watch their kids online as if they were watching their kids on the playground to ensure their safety.

“You have to remind your children that just because you’re on a computer, the rules haven’t changed,” Crecente said.

What else can parents do?

Sometimes your tween or teen may just need a break from a particular app or website. If your child has a mobile device, I always recommend using a quality parental control. Netsanity has a suite of mobile parental control services like their Timeblocker scheduler, can be used regularly to ensure that kids have balance throughout their day. If your kids and teens are overusing a favorite app like Clash of Clans, Netsanity’s Gameblocker can be a parent’s best friend. You can block the game on occasion giving them a well needed break or even block it indefinitely if it causing problems for your child or with groups of children. Netsanity now offers a free 14-day trial on all their plans, so it’s definitely worth checking out.


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Netsanity is available for both Apple and Android devices.


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