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Popular 'Clash of Clans' Game Raises Concerns of Bullying

If you’re one of those people who has to play Candy Crush twice a day you know just how addicting mobile games are becoming. Clash of Clans is a new game that allows players to build their own “clans” and battle it out with others online, however, new concerns have been raised among young players who may engage in bullying and exclusion.

“I visited my 10-year-old nephew, Luca, earlier this month, and he spent the entire weekend checking his mother’s iPhone. But, sadly, he wasn’t having fun,” said Nick Bilton of the NYTimes.

His nephew, like many other children his age and older, has been playing Clash of Clans and where he was once the leader of a clan he suddenly felt what it feels like to become an outcast. Within the game you are able to demote people from you clan as a leader and what was seemingly a harmless game in a virtual world turned into a social issue that boiled over into the real world.

“It’s this feature that quickly spiraled into a digital ‘Lord of the Flies’ for my nephew and his friends, and made him feel so sad earlier this month,” Bilton said in the article.

“My sister, Leanne Citrone, knew that Luca had been playing this game on her iPhone, but beyond that, didn’t think much of it. Then a few weeks ago, at a school-related function, a father who had been exploring the game on his own son’s account approached my sister and politely warned her that something was not right in the online world.”

The father asked Luca’s mother to talk to him about demoting members of his clan. Apparently Luca demoted a player from his clan and while his mother demanded that he reinstate the student, the damage had already been done. Luca’s classmate started his own and he and other classmates refused to let Luca join, according to Bilton’s article.

“On Monday morning, word of the online revolt had become such a heated topic at school that teachers had to address the entire class and explain why it was wrong to exclude others from their clans,” Bilton said.

Now, what was supposed to be a fun game turned into a serious case of hierarchical exclusion built from the structure of the game.

“Social patterns in the real world are replicated in the online world,” said Caroline Knorr, parenting editor of Common Sense Media, a nonprofit group that focuses on children and technology, according to Bilton’s article.

“It’s not as easy as just saying, ‘Well, find another game or go on a different server.’ Social circles coalesce around certain popular games. Kids even act them out on the playground. So, not being a part of the group takes a toll.”

However, some commenters believe that watching over children’s interaction in games like Clash of Clans takes policing to an unnecessary length.

“You can't police or control all of your kid's activities,” said Ricodechef, a commenter out of Portland OR AS they get older and more independent, they will begin making their own way in the world, even the ugly parts.” 

“The message I keep hammering home to my kids is that mean people suck. Don't be mean and don't let people be mean to you. Someone who is mean to you is not your friend. You can intercede to a certain extent, but if your kids never learn to be resilient, they are going to have a tough time in life.”

While resiliency remains one side of the argument against Luca’s experience with Clash of Clans, another commenter also stated that Clash of Clans is a “good way to teach leadership skills and fairness.”

So these responses spawn a debate as to whether or not Clash of Clans contributes to bullying or whether it could help children address social skills, fairness and leadership skills they need for the future.

 

Read the full story and comment below

Article by Navindra Persaud, Education World Contributor.

Do you believe that parents and educators should have more involvement in the virtual playground?

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