Has your child downloaded the popular gaming app Clash of Clans yet?
I hate to admit it, but my 10-year-old son has become a bit obsessed with this action-packed, highly-addictive game that he plays on his iPod Touch with his friends.
Of course, when I discovered he was completely intrigued by this game and all his friends were scrambling to join ‘The Clan,’ I knew I had to do some research and see if it was something I should be concerned about.
What is Clash of Clans?
According to the creator’s website (Supercell), Clash of Clans is ‘An Epic Combat Strategy Game.’ It requires careful thinking, planning and managing of resources to be successful. Players must work hard to plan and build a village from scratch, set up the necessary defenses to fend off enemy attacks and create a powerful army. Players enter into alliances with other players and form ‘clans.’ Players attack other player’s villages and earn rewards such as gold, elixir and trophies used to advance their position in the game. It’s important to note, that clan-mates can potentially be from any of the 130 countries in which this app is available.
The game has been described as “magnificently designed” and “highly entertaining” and my 10-year-old son can’t get enough of it.
Clash of Clans is available for free download in the iTunes Store and is rated 9+ due to ‘Infrequent/Mild Cartoon or Fantasy Violence.’
Is There any Value in Playing Clash of Clans?
I’m not sure that I agree, but I’ve read some interesting articles touting some positive benefits of playing this type of game. Proponents would argue it provides an opportunity to exercise some essential life skills. Many feel that strategy games of this nature tend to strengthen and develop mental processes far more effectively than simple games of chance like those that depend on a lucky hand of cards or a roll of the dice. I’m sure these views could be hotly debated, but the game is clearly very appealing to many people or it wouldn’t be so insanely popular.
Fans of the Clash of Clans tout the following virtues:
- Players learn that it often takes an investment of time, effort and patience to be successful.
- Players experience the satisfaction of seeing what happens when something has been well-planned
- Players can learn about the consequences (or rewards) of risk taking
- Players develop the ability to analyze information and make decisions
- Players participate in experience-based learning without truly suffering the consequences of poor decision-making
- Players learn the ability to get over a negative event and recover from it
- Players learn the value of perseverance and learning from mistakes
- Players experience the value of collaborative work
What Parents Should Know About Clash of Clans
- The whole idea of the game is that players attack other players’ villages. Although troops are attacked, this game does not contain any graphic violence. However, if the idea of attacking the troops of other players is offensive to you, you may not want your child to participate.
- Clash of Clans is free to download, but parents should be aware that players can easily make in-app purchases unless you set the proper restrictions to disallow this on the device. There is an in-game shop where players can purchase “gems” in order to obtain the resources they need to help them advance in the game. Players can do as many purchases as they wish, without limit, with the simple tap of a button.
- Your kids could potentially allow total strangers to play the game with them if they allow them in their clan. There is also nothing stopping them from joining a clan with people they don’t know. The game allows players to enter into alliances with other players, and these other players could be from any of the 130 countries where this app is available. My rule for my son is that he can only participate in a clan with people we know and trust, and I check on this.
- It’s important for parents to be aware of the ‘chat’ feature in the ‘Clash of Clans’ game. By clicking on the ‘Clan’ tab in this area, players can choose to post messages viewable only to other members of their clan. The kids really seem to enjoy this opportunity to connect socially with their friends as they plot and plan their way through the game. It’s important to note, however, that there are no filters on the content, or a means to report inappropriate behavior in the Clan chat area, so it would be wise to talk to your kids about this and monitor how they use it.
- Right next to the ‘Clan’ chat tab, is another tab titled ‘Global’. This allows players to chat with other players in the region (regardless of clan affiliation)…so your child could potentially be ‘chatting’ with strangers. The posting of inappropriate content is discouraged (a warning message is displayed in the tab), but it certainly does happen. Players can report inappropriate behavior/messages by tapping on the offending message and choosing ‘Report.’ Once a player has received around 7 ‘reports’, they are banned from the chat area for 24 hours (which really doesn’t seem like much of a penalty, does it?) There is some content filtering in the ‘Global’ chat tab and some words that are deemed offensive are replaced with asterisks, and some emoticons are not allowed in this area at all. If a player finds another player’s comments to be offensive, they have the option to ‘mute’ that player from the global chat window. Their messages will no longer be seen in the global chat tab. Although there are “some” filters in place, parents should discourage their kids from hanging out the ‘Global’ chat area, as there is no way to know who they are ‘chatting’ with.
What Parents Should Do
- Set the restrictions on your child’s device to disallow in-app purchases so they aren’t tempted to rack up your iTunes bill to get ahead in the game. Clash of Clans is free to download, but players can spend as much money as they want in the store. Check out this link to an article about a couple of kids that spent $3,000 within this app without their parent’s knowledge:
7-Year-Old Twins Rack Up $3,000 iTunes Bill Playing ‘Clash Of Clans’
- Check to make sure your kids are only participating in a clan with people they know. This app is available in over 130 countries, and it’s possible for your child to enter into a clan with total strangers, near or far.
- Check to make sure your child is only participating in age-appropriate chats with the people in their clan. There are no filters on the chat content, so you need to be checking to make sure the clan is keeping discussion content age-appropriate.
- Remind your kids to adhere to the basic safety rules for online activity. This means protecting their identity and not sharing any personal information that could lead to their identification or physical location. As I always recommend, tell your kids to create a username that does not easily identify them.
- As with all games, make sure your child stays in touch with the fact that this virtual world is a game. Pay attention to whether or not they are taking any of it too seriously or getting upset about the other players that attack their camps. If they can’t maintain a healthy, realistic view of the game, they probably shouldn’t play it.
- Set strict time limits on the game. Kids seem to find this game highly addictive. As with all online activity, set reasonable time limits on it.
Clash of Clans appears to be a fun, challenging game that some would argue has some educational value because it’s a game of strategy. However, after doing some research and hearing from users who participate in the game regularly, it’s not a game you’d want your young children playing without supervision. The age guideline for playing the game is 9+, but because strangers can be playing with your children and there are uncensored chat rooms available to them, I feel the age limit should be at least 13. The game is also highly addictive and enforcing time limits on it can be quite a challenge for parents. If you do allow your child to play, you should monitor who they are playing with and put restrictions in place to prevent in-app purchases.
Are your kids playing this game? Please share any thoughts or experiences you have that might be helpful to other parents.