Should My Family Play Pokemon Go?

I am not a gamer and never was but both my children LOVE LOVE LOVE video games.  They first got into Pokemon because a child down the street had a Pokemon game they enjoyed playing together.  Then that same child gave my children free cards to start their deck and the obsession began.  

 

Several stacks of cards, episodes and apps later POKEMON GO arrived on the scene.  I purposely held back and said nothing about it to the kids.  Not only was I never into electronic gaming but I was a skeptic parent that was not sure of their value...very cautious.  I held back to see what would happen with this “real world” Pokemon hunt.

The kids first learned of the game by overhearing news stories about Pokemon Go gamers getting hit by cars or falling off cliffs or being robbed or stabbed.  Undeterred they begged me for the game.  I interviewed a SUPER Pokemon Go player (my designation), Cesar Ortiz ("CallMeSnoozzy" on Pokemon Go) about his family’s experiences, advice and precautions.  I’ll share with you his input AND my personal experiences introducing it to my kids in order to give you some food for thought as you enter the world of Pokemon Go.

WHY do I want this app?

“For nostalgia reasons”, says Cesar.  He played it when he was a kid and had always dreamed of being a real Pokemon trainer when he was a tween.  Now, since he’s shared Pokemon with his daughters, they can play together as a team and share this experience.  In my case, I did not have any interest in Pokemon until my kids talked incessantly about them so now I, too, have favorites and enjoy them.  I still refuse to watch the shows but Cesar says “they’re great because “the old school Pokemon cartoons always have a sub-context to them or a lesson...they often deal with things like tolerance and sharing”.   He says that Pokemon Go is multi-generational now and it allows him and his daughter to be on the “same level” and teach each other.  I’ve also found that now my kids want to run errands, take the dog for a walk, and leave the house more than ever before. One of my kids hates being outdoors (too hot and too many bugs) but not anymore! They even begged to go to a wetlands area they usually moan about when I suggest to go!  Score!

 

How much is it Going to cost me?

Cesar points out that you can spend up to $70 on a game for the Xbox One and play it maybe once a week.  With Pokemon Go you may be playing about 3 times a day and the entire family is enjoying it.  He suggests thinking of it that way when you are deciding how much money you want to spend at the Shop that is in the app.  

 

What are some tips for family play so it doesn’t take over our lives?

  • Cesar suggests integrating the game into what your family already has planned for the day.  He said it just “adds another layer” to whatever else they have going on that day.

  • Set Boundaries on how it will be played and when:  *have the kids enjoy the place BEFORE they hunt the Pokemon.  *Take Breaks during play or for days in between play. *Have it be social where the child is encouraged to do it with family, siblings or friends.

  • Don’t let the kids loiter.  Many times my kids want to linger at a Poke Stop while we want to enjoy the scenery or the walk together so our rule is to flip the Stop and keep moving.

  • Encourage the kids to keep moving so that they can hatch their eggs!  Some of them take 10km of walking to hatch.  Lots of fresh air and exercise to be had!

  • If you have a route or an agenda for the day, don’t go off the beaten path to chase Poke Stops or Pokemon for the kids.  Have designated outings for your Pokemon explorations but on regular errands let it take a back seat, literally.

Poke Stops with Lures

How do I address some Safety concerns I have?

  • Always play with other people!  

  • Have 1 person (at least) in the group to not use a device so they can make sure no one wanders into a dangerous area or stumbles into the street.  Sort of like a designated non-gamer.

  • 4 kids with 4 expensive phones are a nice distracted target for crime. Tell the kids to take 1 device and share it.  Take turns logging in and back track so that everyone can take advantage of an area.  Or if they all want a device make sure an adult is present too.

  • Technically this game is only for kids 13 and up but many make it a family activity to do with younger kids too.  The point of a 13 year old age limit is that some kids younger than that may not have as much “common sense” about safety as an older child.

  • Encourage children (or as a family decide) to only go to safe places like churches, police stations, malls, parks etc to do your Pokemon expeditions.

 

How will this impact my family time & my kids’ social time?

  • You will EXPLORE more together

  • Spend more time together

  • Become a team

  • Exercise together--remember to hatch your eggs it can involve 2-10km of walking!

  • Kids will want to go to all sorts of new places and will spend hours OUTSIDE with friends.

 

SIDE EFFECTS

  • Spend more time together & with friends.  Cesar said he gets together with friends he otherwise doesn’t see and they hang out, play, talk for HOURS and more frequently because of this game.  My kids want to play more with me and their friends.

  • Discover new places--Use South Florida Finds to learn more about each place you visit to make the most of your time there.

  • Meet new people (you often bump into other gamers to chat with)

  • Take photos of the kids more that they will actually want to keep & look at.  The app allows you to see real world environments while you catch the Pokemon...so throw the kids or yourself in there and keep it as a memory.  Bet my son will love to see himself with his favorite pokemon at the local park we play at!

 

CONS

  • You look suspicious wandering around seemingly aimlessly trying to catch Pokemon.

  • Let’s face it, the game encourages you to loiter in certain areas waiting for Poke Stops to refresh.  It can become obsessive.

  • If you’re clumsy already, adding this game to your phone to distract you may result in some more injuries.

  • You get tempted to break the law---trespass.  I saw a Pokemon...2 of them in my neighbor’s yard and tried to get as close as possible to it to catch it.  I’m sure a kid may just go into the yard, catch it and run back out.  Big no-no.

  • You end up taking longer routes, making extra stops, taking the streets instead of the highway, making u-turns and more so that your little Trainer in the back seat can catch a Pokemon or grab at a Poke Stop you’re passing.

  • Battery drain (see tips to help with that below).

  • It’s easy to get obsessed with it!  Notice I mention getting obsessed multiple times yet?

TIPS

  • When catching a pokemon, toggle the AR switch at the top right if you want to see the real environment while playing the game.  It’s great for photographing family BUT it uses up the battery faster!

  • Adjust your settings (see screenshot).  Putting it in Battery Saving mode allows the game to work (counting every step you make toward hatching an egg--who needs a boring pedometer now?!) but darkens the screen and uses a lot less energy.  It will still notify you when there is a Pokemon nearby. Also turn off music and sound effects to reduce the drain on your battery.

  • Remember that you don’t have to pay to play but if you don’t it will take more time and energy.  Weigh which is most important to you, time or money.

  • Wait to throw the ball when the target circle around the Pokemon shrinks.  It makes the shot more accurate.  The color of the ring represents the difficulty in catching it.  (green-easy and red-extreme difficulty).  You can use tricks in your backpack to help you.

  • To catch a Pokemon or activate a Poke Stop the ring around your character needs to encompass it first.  If it’s close but no cigar, then move closer!

  • If you hunt with a group of friends, share your lures at the poke stops so that everyone can benefit (it attracts Pokemon that everyone can catch).

  • Go at different times of the day to catch different types of Pokemon AND go to diverse areas too.  Looking for different spots to hunt?  Find interesting new places at South Florida Finds!

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