On July 7, Pokemon GO was released to the United States. Maybe you’re already familiar with Pokemon. It began as a television show for adolescents in the ’90’s and then became a trading card game quickly afterwards. Both my sons watched the show and participated in the card-trading phenomenon. Now in his early 20’s, my youngest made me aware this week that all over our community (and other places in the world) kids of all ages are quietly roaming their communities playing a game via their Google account because the game employs Google Maps.
My son showed me his Pokemon Go app yesterday when asking if I’d seen it – two days after its release. After he explained how the game worked, I downloaded it myself. Imagine my surprise to see that there was a Pokemon “critter” on my driveway. I threw a pokeball at him to capture him and gained experience/trainer points. This has been the level of my participation thus far. But it made me consider how this type of game is similar to geocaching, where we have students look for hidden elements in their environments for points.
As an educator, I can see that this would be a great way for kids to explore their communities on foot. After a user accumulates enough experience points to Level 5, they can battle. My son did this today, mainly out of curiosity. The physical “gym” indicated for battle in our town is the American Legion Veterans Organization building. When he arrived, he noticed at least 4 cars in the parking lot with probably about 6 people that appeared to be battling while sitting in their cars. On a bench outside, a 13-year old was playing on his phone – indicative that he was battling as well. This makes this game one of the first I’ve seen in which participants must physically travel, either on foot or by vehicle. There they were, connecting with other people – only not each other necessarily. More info is here: Pokemon Go Gyms, candy, pokeballs and everything else you need to know
Scary stuff? Well, it’s a bit unsettling if you have a younger child participating. Read this article and decide for yourself: Pokemon Go users find everything from dates to dead bodies. Also, you must consider that part of the game is being able to buy game items. If your child has a bank account of some type connected to their phone/tablet or if you do and you let your child use your phone, be aware that up to $99 can be spent with one click.
Like all wise parents, you should monitor your child’s use of mobile devices. If they’re playing Pokemon Go, ask questions and note that it’s required for a child to move around a community to battle and gain experience points.
As I’ve concluded writing this, my son informed me that we have a Pokemon Venonat bug right now in our kitchen. Great… !!