Monday, July 18, 2016

Respecting Our Children's Interests

My oldest has been playing Pokemon Go. She has the only device that is new enough to handle it, so she shares it with her brother and sister. The library we work at has two Pokemon gyms and a Pokemon stop, so a lot of what she's collected came from there. She learned she walks about 3km (1.86miles) whenever she's at work. Library employees spend a lot of time on their feet.

It's been frustrating for me to hear so much negativity associated with this game. The NYC police commissioner, while reporting on incidents involving the game, complained, "That craze is one of the stupidest ones that I've seen. Don't understand it, don't intend to understand it. Has no appeal to me." That seems to sum up the problem. Adults who have no interest in the game are passing judgment without trying to understand what it is about. For years, I have heard so many parents lament that their kids aren't getting out/getting enough exercise. The creators of Pokemon have been trying to get kids outside for years, and now they hit on something that actually works. Even before the problems with luring players into unsafe areas and thefts of devices, Pokemon Go had a message on its app to remember to play safely. I know this because I asked my kids about it. I asked them to explain the game to me. Talking to kids seems to be the biggest problem for adults. Mocking a game that our children enjoy only makes them less likely to share their interests with us.

The people who are running into trouble playing the game are the ones who are not following common sense safety. If I'm doing something I love, like photography,  I get distracted too, so I try to remember the basics: Try not to go out alone. Be aware of your surroundings. Secure your valuables (in this case, personal info on your device). Keep off of private property. Don't play while driving. We have heard all of this advice before when texting was the big thing, when smartphones became popular, even when we were wandering around plugged into Walkmans when I was a teen back in the stone age (battery age?) of technology. There are probably examples before that, but that was the craze I grew up with.

My point is that safety is not an exclusive issue to this craze. We need to remember that the things we consider trivial might be very important to our kids.  If you want to build a relationship with them, be involved. Go with them on their Pokemon hunts. Walk with them. I think it's great that this is exciting kids (and older). They are getting outside. They are getting exercise. And some might even benefit from stealth learning as they find Pokemon near historic sites and monuments.


Paula Vince said...

Hear hear! Very well said. I don't know how long the craze will last, but it's been great seeing so many people out in the fresh air, passing the time of day with others and sharing a common interest. Only my daughter's phone is able to handle the game, so she's lent it to her brothers a couple of times too.

Inner Elder said...

When I am tempted to criticize activities or games or music that younger people enjoy, I think about all the "new" ideas and stuff I was into when I was young (yes, I was young once!). My parents and grandparents did not understand the new things and of course, thought their culture was superior. Each generation moves on. Who wants everything to stay the same! Move on Pokemon Go. Love, Mom

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