Pokémon GO – Should Parents Be Worried About this Game?
If you grew up in the 90’s, chances are that you got caught up in the Pokémon craze and guess what? It’s happening again!
Many of you have absolutely no idea what all the hype is about so let me take a minute and explain what’s going on.
In the late 90’s Nintendo took the world by storm by unleashing a game called “Pokémon”. It could be played on handheld video game devices as well as via trading cards. It was even an extremely popular cartoon on television.
The premise of the game and television program is that in a mythical world, there are all kinds of mysterious creatures that inhabit the realm. The people, who are referred to as “trainers”, travel far and wide with the goal of capturing these creatures and ultimately using them to fight the creatures that are owned by other trainers.
Thanks to GPS Location Apps, a New Beast Has Been Unleashed!
Apps that rely on GPS for location-based services such as Foursquare and Facebook allow users to “check-in” using the GPS functionality of their mobile devices. It was apps like these that paved the way for games like Pokémon GO to be developed.
You can download Pokémon GO for Google Android and Apple iOS devices for free and begin playing the game right away. Unlike previous location base applications where all people really did was “check-in” to report their location to their friends and family members, this game has created a frenzy of people who are running around their towns in an attempt to capture virtual Pokémon creatures.
What’s the Point?
After someone has downloaded the application onto their phone or other GPS enabled mobile device, they have to get off their couch and venture out into the real world if they want to capture Pokémon creatures in the new version of this game. The GPS technology that is built into the mobile devices will cause Pokémon to appear on the screen of your smartphone when you are in a particular area.
The Good About this Game
I have to admit that I haven’t personally been one of the millions of people who are caught up in this frenzy but I know plenty people who are. As matter of fact, we live in a relatively small town and I spoke with someone recently who said that they saw people walking around town at 3:00 AM in the morning trying to catch these virtual Pokémon creatures!
The good thing about this game is that unlike traditional video games, you can’t play it while sitting on the couch with a bag of potato chips and 2 liter bottle of soda. The people who are playing this game are actually leaving their homes and exploring new places while they’re trying to capture as many Pokémon is a possibly can.
The benefit of this is that the game is getting people outside and actually exercising. That, in and of itself, is a good thing regardless of whether or not you think the game is silly or not. Obesity is one of the leading causes of health problems in the world and anything that will encourage people to get out and move their feet is a move in the right direction towards getting the population fit.
As a matter of fact, I believe that this game will open an entirely new market for app developers. A world where people physically move through their environment while playing the games instead of spending countless hours with there backsides planted on the couch.
The Bad as I See It
Okay, now let’s take a minute and talk about the potential problems that parents might face if their children are playing this game. If you think you had a hard time keeping track of your kids before they started playing Pokémon GO, you haven’t seen anything yet in my opinion!
One of the good things about this game can also potentially be a bad thing. The good thing is that it encourages people to explore the world around them and discover new places and new things.
As a parent however, you may not want your children venturing into particular parts of your town simply to capture a make-believe creature while playing this game. I think it’s great that the game encourages people to get up and start moving. This has the potential to help people become more physically fit but it could encourage your children to travel beyond the boundaries that you set for them.
I know that when I was a kid, there were certain parts of town that my parents would not allow me to go. They put these rules in place for a very good reason and while this game has the potential to help children and adults become more physically fit, I believe that parents need to set some ground rules for their children about where they are allowed to go while playing it.
Another thing that comes to mind is the potential for injury. It could be possible for someone who is staring at their phone while they are walking around trying to make their next capture to trip or even step into traffic. I think parents should caution their children to be really careful and actually watch where they are walking and not just stare at their screen while playing this game.
As a matter of fact, I just noticed that the developers of this game must see distracted walking as a potential cause for injury because while the game is loading on my phone a message is displayed that says, “Remember to be alert at all times. Stay aware of your Surroundings.”
A Sneak Peak Video
Okay, I Admit, I Tried It
This latest Pokémon phenomenon really peaked my curiosity so I had to give it a try. I downloaded the app onto my iPhone and within a couple of minutes I was playing the game. Upon launching the application, I was asked to login and given two choices. One was to simply use my Google ID so I chose to go that route.
After starting the app on my phone, there was an animated character that gave a brief introduction about the game. Within minutes, I was walking around my yard trying to catch a Pokémon. Truth be told, my neighbor was watching me through her window and I can’t even imagine what she must’ve thought I was doing. It took me a couple of minutes but I did catch a Pokémon and I have the screenshot to prove it!
Well, there you have it. I’ll let you be the judge about whether or not you want to let you kids play this game but in my opinion, with some ground rules set, it’s a great way to get them out of the house in engaging in some physical activity.
If you have young children, you could always play the game with them and the whole family would get out of the house for some exercise and a fun adventure.