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Teaching Online Safety Versus Online Bullying

I’ve mentioned how I’m playing Clash of Clans with my sons. Since that post, we’ve quit that clan and created our own. I’m the clan leader, and both my boys are co-leaders. They have personally invited all their friends to join us, so we have almost 20 clan members. Running this clan with my sons is giving me an example for lessons in diplomacy.

There are four levels of membership in a CoC clan: Leader, Co-leader, Elder, Member.

The Leader can change some clan technical settings, and has authority to accept new members and kick anyone from co-leader on down.

Co-leaders can also change some technical settings, and can accept new members and kick Elders and Members.

Elders can accept new members and kick Members.

Members cannot accept or kick anyone.

I’ve given all the friends Elder rank in the clan so they can accept other friends. But some keep asking to be made co-leaders. I ask them why they want to be a co-leader and they don’t answer. Then they ask my sons to make them co-leader. My sons then ask me if they can make that friend a co-leader, and I ask why, they pass along the question, and again, the friend gives no answer.

There really isn’t a reason for anyone to be co-leader other than to be able to kick out an Elder, (as all the friends are). My sons, as co-leaders, have this ability, but they know not to do it without checking with me first. My boys live with me, so if there’s any problem, they can bring it to my attention immediately. Their friends, if made co-leaders, could kick other friends without checking with me. I’ve seen how sometimes the least little thing can make boys mad with each other. (Apparently it’s not just girls who create drama.) So I’m hesitant to give anyone else the ability to kick a friend.

Then someone accepted a join request from someone no one knows in the real world. I specifically wanted to restrict clan membership to only real world friends, and friends of friends. There’s a lot of chatting within the clan when the kids are playing, so I want to make sure everyone is safe from trolls and predators. Well, this guy got in somehow, and it was a couple of days before I found out that no one actually knew him, and no one remembers letting him in.

I’ve chatted with him a couple of times within the game, and I’ve learned that he’s a new player, and he’s an adult. I can see all the chat logs, and I regularly monitor what goes on. He has not been at all inappropriate with anyone. In fact, he doesn’t chat much at all. There have been a couple of chat mentions to kick him from the clan because no one knows him, and he has said that he’d accept being kicked if that is what everyone decides.

I discussed the decision with my sons. On one hand, he isn’t a real world friend, or a friend of a friend, and shouldn’t have been accepted to the clan in the first place. But he’s not done anything wrong, and has actually been helpful by donating troops to other people — in fact, he has donated more troops than anyone else in the clan, including me. (Donating troops to others costs in-game resources, and is generally considered a very nice thing to do for others.)

So to kick him would seem pretty rude, but to keep him is a weak spot in the ring of safety I’ve created for the boys in this online game world. During the discussion with my boys, I was torn between teaching them to not fully trust people you don’t know online, and teaching them to not wield power over others without reason. We talked about trusting and about being a bully, and we decided to let the unknown guy stay so long as he hadn’t done anything wrong. But we’d keep an eye on him. Mostly it would be me keeping an eye out, because I’m the one who monitors all the chat logs.

An ironic twist to all this is that all the friends often quit and rejoin the clan. Someone will quit the clan, go join either some other friend’s clan or some random clan, and then a day later, (or sometimes an hour later), they’ll come back to rejoin ours. It doesn’t actually hurt us in any way, but it is a bit annoying to me. If the unknown guy were to quit our clan, we could simply ignore his rejoin request and not have to kick him and I wouldn’t worry about having a stranger among us online. But he’s been one of the most reliable people in our group.


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