“Mom!!!!! There’s a gym coming up—pull over!!!” My 15 year old son, Andrew, was screaming at me and pointing to a church up ahead on the right side of the road. He was concentrating on Pokemon GO and frantically looking from his phone to our surroundings to make sure I didn’t miss the stop. I did as I was told and pulled over. The entire time he was describing why this gym was so amazing, I could only concentrate on how cute my child was, and how his eyes lit up as he told me about the points and the characters and what would happen if and when he took over the gym. I didn’t understand one word he said, but I didn’t care. He was talking to me. It was just like he was in second grade again with his Pokemon cards. I didn’t understand one word he said then either, Same bright eyes, same blond hair, same excited voice, just eight years later.
If you or your children aren’t already playing Pokemon GO, you are probably beginning to hear about the dangers. Dangers of becoming addicted, dangers of sexual predators and robbers luring players to Pokemon GO stops, or the dangers to players as they trip over curbs and physically hurt themselves. Every time something new and exciting hits the airwaves, pretty soon after we begin to hear of the dangers.
Potential Dangers of Pokemon GO
You may become addicted. You will forget about work, your sleep, food, etc.: This may happen. It happens to me when I begin a good book, too. All I want to do is sit and read. In high school, I remember my mom coming into my room in the middle of the night and forcing me to turn off my light. I couldn’t stop reading. No one ever mentioned the word addiction. No one would have ever characterized me as a “brainiac or a nerd.” I just lost myself in books. Just like people can lose themselves in activities like Pokemon GO.
You become isolated. You have no interaction with others: As my dad likes to say, “Hogwash.” It’s been a while since I’ve seen so many people so engaged about one activity. If you don’t know about Pokemon GO, you are definitely in the minority. Not only are people engaged, they are so excited talking about the game. Don’t believe me? Go to a crowded place. Sit and watch what’s going on around you. Strangers begin to talk and give each other pointers of where to go. “You are on the red team? There’s a great gym over at…”
Relationships suffer: I’m sure this can be true. I do get tired of hearing about Pokemon GO. But, I do love driving Andrew and his friends around the city and the conversations that invariably ensue. I’ve spent more fun time with him lately and haven’t spent a dime (excluding my gas cost.) Who knew a Zubat could get in my car?
People become so involved wth looking at their phone they forget about looking up: Have you ever watched people walking down the street? Good grief. People don’t look up from their phones. EVER. How many videos are there about women being attacked, people falling into fountains or tripping over things, all because they were focused on their phones. This isn’t a Pokemon GO problem. This is a universal society phone problem.
People become angry or sad when they don’t get to the levels they want. I feel your pain, people. It’s why I don’t do jigsaw or crossword puzzles. That Sudoku craze just about did me in. When I was in school, those “seek a word” puzzles would create so much anxiety for me because I never could find one or two words. So embarrassing when everyone was finished but me. I’m still haunted.
(This one is strictly for parents) My child cares about nothing else. How about this, parents? Stop always wanting your child to come to you. Go to what your child loves to do. This is a perfect opportunity! Take a walk with your child while you hunt for Pokemon. Learn about the craze. It will be gone before you know it. Talk to your child. Don’t look at this as a burden and a problem. Look at it as an opportunity to spend time together.
Can Pokemon GO be dangerous? Yes. So can a lot of things. Can it be time consuming? Yes. So can a lot of activities. Is it a mindless game? I’m not sure I can say yes on that one. I think there’s a lot to be said for this game. I’ve heard more addition and subtraction equations from my son than I have in a long time. (And, he’s not used his calculator for any of them.) He’s not complained once when I’ve asked him to walk the dog. Before, to get him out of the house, it would be a back and forth negotiation that was exhausting.
Virtual gaming is here to stay. We can continue to discount it or we can become educated and engaged, especially where our children are involved. I’m aware of potential problems, but I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon of “It’s detrimental to our kid’s health!” or “Sexual predators are using this to lure kids to homes!” Be smart and be aware. As you do with many other activities.
And, no matter what, don’t forget to have fun with your kids.