I'm a 50-year-old woman who will defend her right to play Pokemon Go. And quite frankly, I'm tired of non-players insisting that it's a total waste of time. I think you should let your kids play, and while you're at it, you should join them and play, too!
Here are five reasons I think you should jump on board the Pokemon Go bandwagon:
You can't play Pokemon Go at home. Your child (or you) can't sit on the couch in the basement to play. It forces you both to get outside and get some fresh air.
I know that we've all heard the horror stories of people driving off a cliff, stepping into traffic or doing really stupid things while they are playing Pokemon Go. But the reality is, those people were probably stupid before Pokemon Go.
You can't play it in the car or even while riding a bike; the game senses that you're going too quickly and not walking or running. Yes, there is an "I'm a passenger" option, but the reality is you have to walk to make the game work.
The more you walk, the more Pokemon appear, just waiting to be caught. And I don't mean walking in circles, but walking to the local park, or along local trails. (By the way, the word Pokemon stands for "pocket monsters" -- a term that no one really uses.)
You also "hatch" Pokemon eggs when you walk. The eggs hatch into more Pokemon, so hatching an egg is a good thing. The eggs require you to walk a minimum of two kilometres before you get a new Pokemon. And you'll quickly realize that if you try to hatch a 10km egg, you'll get even better Pokemon. So, you naturally walk -- much further than you and your kids would probably walk without the motivation. When you're walking, you are getting fresh air. What on earth is wrong with this so far?
2. Social Interaction
Too many parents today are concerned that kids don't have enough social interaction because they are playing video games. If you want to change that, you can blend the allure of video games with the local park and... voilà -- your children are socially interacting.
Just go to your local park if you want to see this in action. There is likely a Pokemon gym at your local park. The gym is where trainers (which is the role you assume in Pokemon Go) take their strong Pokemon to battle. The winner takes over control of the gym. This part of the game isn't nearly as intuitive for my 50-year-old brain, but the kids certainly understand it. It's at these virtual gyms that kids talk to other kids. They teach each other how to play. They encourage each other when they're battling. They talk, they share and they ask each other questions. They socially interact.
A woman plays Pokemon Go in a park. (Photo: HOCUS-FOCUS VIA GETTY)
When I first started playing Pokemon Go, I didn't realize there was a strategy to the game (I had never played the paper version of Pokemon) so I went around my neighbourhood, catching as many Pokemon as I could (and I still enjoyed it).
But there is a strategy to the game. You have to keep the strong ones and release the others. You have to figure out which Pokemon you want to make the epicenter of your team. You have to understand that the different types of Pokemon battle against others differently, and you have to ensure you have the right Pokemon to battle successfully.
Honestly, I still haven't figured most of that out but you can be sure that I when I walk to the park I ask the kids there for advice. They understand the game and they don't hesitate at all to tell me what I should be doing.
As a parent, that in itself is a strategic approach. By asking your children about Pokemon Go, they have to articulate instructions; they have to explain things so you can understand and they will feel quite rewarded in the role of teacher instead of being a student all the time (especially with mom and dad).
It takes a lot of catching Pokemon and a ton of walking (my Fitbit loves that I'm playing this game) to get your Pokemon strong enough to challenge others and win battles. You must be patient so you can "evolve" your Pokemon into stronger Pokemon. This isn't a quick-satisfaction game at all, although the initial thrill of catching a wild Pokemon doesn't seem to go away.
The game does not start over each day (or ever, actually), so you have to be patient in order to be successful. Quite honestly, this is a new skill for most children, as the video games of today typically offer a restart quite readily. Pokemon Go requires that you strengthen your Pokemon slowly for success.
For the most part, you can't play Pokemon at school, either, so it requires your children to wait for their evening exercise to catch newer and greater Pokemon.
I discovered that when I walk in the evening there are many more Pokemon to catch. When I walk in the morning or afternoon there are very few. The more people playing, the more Pokemon you will find. So I now plan my Pokemon walks to coincide with when I think there will be the most people at the park. And yes, I plan my day around it.
I plan which Pokemon I want to strengthen (planning, patience and strategy) in order to win at the local Pokemon gyms. I also choose which Pokemon I decide to catch for my team as well. I don't want every Pokemon that may come my way.
The next time you are at your local park, take a look around. You will see the kids walking and generally moving around. You'll see kids talking to other kids and to their parents. You can be sure that every person playing is figuring out their own strategy, developing patience to execute that strategy and planning their next move or attack. You won't see anyone walking off a cliff, or walking into traffic. You'll see gamification that is producing great results.
I'm looking for a Pikachu -- what are you looking for?
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