Pokémon Go (Away or Stay?)

It’s kind of insane… My husband and two older boys (ages 11 and 9) just got home at 9pm for the second night in a row. Where were they? Running around a local outdoor mall looking for Pokémon. Yes, it’s a camp and work night. No, they didn’t text or call me that they’d be home late (I was expecting them around 8pm), so I scolded (jokingly) all three of them – asking who was in charge that forgot to check in and ask permission to stay out late. And one of them hadn’t even eaten dinner yet, it was the big kid (my husband) who drove the getaway car when he got home from work, while the others jumped in.

 

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Although I’m pretending to be annoyed that they are spending so much time borrowing my phone and staring at a screen, I’m kind of excited that they are hanging out with each other and getting exercise. While most popular video games tend to be solitary activities, this craze is a group activity. It’s like a community scavenger hunt.

My boys ran into old friends and other families doing the same thing and actually had conversations about nearby Pokémon, gyms, and treasures. Whether you are 8 or 28 this new app gets people outside, moving, interacting, and exploring in their own community. The statue my kids have walked past a million times in front of the local grocery store has now been discovered, researched, and learned about – all because it was a poke-spot.

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Even though I’m kind of enjoying this new fad, I do have to remind myself (and my patients) that like any app, the same media and screen-time rules should apply. Talk to your kids about what devices they can and can’t use. Sign in appropriately by using their actual birthdate and allow them access to play, if you approve. Have time limits and make sure there is also plenty of non-screen activities, such as reading and playing ball outside.

And note to my own boys: Try to catch them all this summer, because when school starts we go back to no screens on weeknights, Pikachu included!