Obviously, we must be smart and safe with our gaming. I teach my kids not to stare at the screen when they are walking, and to completely disengage when they are crossing a street or busy parking lot (the phone vibrates when a Pokemon is close, so there is no need to be glued to the screen). We don't go to dangerous places at night, and tend to travel as a group, with our large dog in tow. And, it hardly needs to be said, no playing while operating a vehicle.
Also, to the Pokemon haters: Those people you see walking around with their phones, gathered at parks, out in the world; until a few weeks ago, many of them spent their time slouched in front of a computer, or sunk into a couch in some basement playing console games. Now, they are out in the world, getting exercise, breathing fresh air, interacting with new people; experiencing life, weather, nature. It's really lovely when you think about it that way.
My kids have always been homeschooled, and in recent years they often prefer to stay home and do indoor things, like read, draw, play Legos, or listen to me read while they work on stuff. We recently adopted a dog, and go on lots of walks with her, but until about two weeks ago, the kids would often request to stay home, rather than go on any walk or outing. I love them, and believe they make good choices and do valuable things with their time, but I do feel like it's my responsibility, as a homeschooling parent, to get my kids out in the world as much as I can.
Enter Pokemon Go. Now every day the kids beg me to go on another MILES long walk so that we can catch more Pokemon, and hatch our eggs, and level up. Our dog is getting so much exercise too; she is so happy to be part of the pack on our endless epic walks as a family. We used to watch a movie or read in the evenings, or sometimes play a boardgame. Now, we go explore the city, along with tons of our neighbors.
Parks are suddenly the place to be, for all kinds of people, since they are hot spots for catching Pokemon. It's wonderful! One of the best things about Pokemon Go is that you are not competing with other players for Pokemon. If you're at a park with 10 other players, everyone can catch the same Pokemon. Parks are often where lures are set, which turn the area into a virtual Pokemon party for 30 minutes, attracting one Pokemon after another. When one player sets a lure, everyone benefits, which is really cool.
Another great feature of the game is that you MUST walk to hatch the eggs that you find. Some eggs require 2 kilometers, some 5 km, and some require you to walk 10 km before they'll hatch. So, we do a LOT of walking! Another thing I appreciate about Pokemon Go is that there is nothing you have to buy, ever. The app is free to download and it's compatible with most smartphones. There is a "store" in the game with optional extras that you can purchase, but it's possible to play every aspect of the game without spending a dime.
My kids want to go on every errand with me now, which means I automatically have help bringing the groceries in from the car! They sit together in the back seat on all our drives, passing my phone back and forth as they take turns catching cute little monsters for our collection. They have also helped their grandma download the app, got her set up with an avatar and taught her to use the balls to catch Pokemon. I'll never forget my technologically challenged mom crying out joyfully, "I'm good at this! I'm actually good at something!" Their time with her is now spent at the playground and lake across from her apartment, where she often used to try to get them to go. But now they all three love being there because of the thrill of the hunt and the beauty of the game.
Pokemon Go starts easy and gets relatively more challenging as you level up. There are no real instructions so we have learned from people around us, and from online sources (which can be helpful but are often wrong since they're just learning too!) My eleven year old does a lot of online research to discover the best ways to play. My eight year old figured out a feature of the game that none of the rest of us could get, how to set a lure. It has been fantastic being on this journey with them. We all love learning together during this incredibly fun activity.
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The Real Value of Pokemon Go
4/ 5Oleh Mellow