What Clash of Clans Is Teaching Me About Connection

OK, I have a confession to make.

I finally gave in.

After months of pleading with me, my 10 year old son Alexander has convinced me to let him join in the phenomenon known as Clash of Clans.

In case you don’t know what that is—it’s a mobile massive online multi-player strategy video game.It’s hugely popular in the 4th grade set in elementary school.  According to Alexander, he was the only kid in his class not playing.  (Clash of Clans is also the highest grossing app on both Apple and Google’s App stores, so it’s not just kids who are playing.)

Now, in our house, Clash comes with some strings attached.Alexander playing in a closed clan/group, which means that he doesn’t have access to the entire online world (and the entire online world doesn’t have access to him).  His particular clan has 30 members, and one of the other 4th Grade Dads is moderating the clan, to ensure that all the online behavior is on the up and up.

Alexander also has screen time limits, so he can only play for 10 minutes on weeknights, and 30 minutes on weekend days.

Before Alexander joined in, he seemed very excited about all the happenings of the clan.

Now that he’s a member, I’ve observed a predominantly different emotion:


Alexander gets concerned about the decisions he makes when he’s online, (did he build the right mines or collect the right elixirs?) but where the anxiety really flares up is when he goes offline, knowing that lots of stuff is happening when he’s not playing.Alexander has developed the malady of our connected age:

Fear of Missing Out.

We’ve already had to have a few heart to heart conversations about the fact that you can’t be in all places at all times, and lots of life happens outside of your control.  I’d love to say that this is resolved, but we’re still working through it.These conversations with my son have reminded me of conversations I’ve had with multiple corporate execs, who have a horrible time “going offline” when it comes to work.  In some cases, their anxiety and fear of missing out has wrecked their health, their marriages, and their families.

I remember Darren, a Finance EVP, who admitted to me that working closing a deal gives him a buzz that’s better than any drug invented.  He’s stayed up for days if he thought it would help.

It wasn’t until Darren stepped away from the deal that he realized what his behavior was costing him in parts of his life that were important to him.  His relationship with his kids wasn’t floundering—it was non-existent.

There’s always something else to work on. For Alexander, it’s his Clan.  For Darren, it was the deals.

How can you connect, without disconnecting from everything else in  your life?

What have you found key to be able to connect and disconnect in “healthy” ways?  Join the conversation by leaving a comment below. 

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