By Candice LeSueur
GET UP, GET OUT, AND EXPLORE!
This is the message the new Pokémon GO app is promoting, emphasizing that you “get on your feet and step outside to…explore cities and towns where you live–and even around the globe” in order to catch as many Pokémon as you can.
John Hanke, the mastermind behind this craze, also put it this way: “I’m not sure Pokémon Go is something new, so much as a new take on something that’s been around for a long time. Which is people wanting things they can do together socially, to give people an excuse to get out and socialize with other people, which at the end of the day makes us feel good.”
Many of us have criticized this idea as we have seen hordes of Pokémon GO gamers with their phones out playing in popular public locations. We have assumed that the app is only helping users stay absorbed in their own cellular devices rather than meeting and socializing with others around them.
The augmented reality game has also generated all kinds of criticism in how it is creating dangerous situations, such as the reported robberies and carjacks that have happened this past week. When asked if he, as a publisher of virtual worlds, has new responsibilities now that lines between imaginary and real worlds have overlapped like this, Hanke replied, “We’ll continue to try to do our best to guide people in the right direction as people’s thinking about this evolves.”
However, after learning about the good that has come from this overnight phenomenon–which is already generating over $2 million daily in in-app purchases–I can’t help but think that we are on the cusp of a great new age that will be a benefit for our children.
After doing some more reading and asking those who actually have been faithfully playing the game since its release, I have found that there are many that indeed are meeting new people and exploring the world around them. Great outcomes from the Pokémon GO app have also been told in stories of people that made discoveries while out catching Pokémon. Among these are the young man who caught the teenagers lighting storage units on fire at a church and (my favorite) how Pokémon GO is suddenly so popular that it has beat out porn in online searches. It is motivating gamers who usually spend hours in front of their entertainment systems at home to get outside and experience sunshine. And while I have much respect for our first lady, @MeninistTweet humorously put it this way: “Pokemon GO has done more for child obesity in the last 24 hours than Michelle Obama has in the past 8 years.”
If this game is helping our children get up, get out, and explore–like parents have always wanted–why can’t we as parents and caretakers get as excited about this fun new app as our youth are? If you can’t beat them, join them, right?
Here is an idea of how we can take advantage of this new virtual fad this summer. While it is still beautiful outside, how cool would it be if we planned to have adventures with our children and visit the various places they will find and capture Pokémon? It is the perfect way to create family unity while doing something children actually enjoy, and your child will really love the fact that you are choosing to take interest in something so technologically distant from what parents normally care for.
Of course, we need to be concerned about our young children’s safety. The Pokémon GO website even cautions, “For safety’s sake, never play Pokémon GO when you’re on your bike, driving a car, riding a hoverboard, or anything else where you should be paying attention, and of course never wander away from your parents or your group to catch a Pokémon.” If we are right there with our youth as they discover the world around them, we can be sure they stay safe and out of trouble.
While criticisms may abound concerning Pokémon GO, there are definitely ways to make this app a benefit to our families. Choose to make Pokémon GO a tool to strengthen your family as your children start to catch ‘em all.