You Should Play Pokémon Go With Your Kids

Just released: our Pokémon GO Playbook!

If your kids aren’t playing Pokémon Go already, they will be soon. In fact, you should probably expect most of the family to join the augmented reality (AR) fun. Pokémon Go is capturing the attention of players of all ages, who are in turn capturing as many Pokémon as they can. And there are really good reasons why you should play Pokémon Go with your kids.

Because Pokémon Go is an AR game, players aren’t just exploring their screens, they are exploring their neighborhoods. Pokémon Go requires players to go outside — walk through town, go to the park, do some hiking — in order to find Pokémon and throw virtual Pokéballs at them to catch them. The Pokémon you collect can be leveled and join fights at local “gyms.” There are also Pokéstops, attached to real-world places of interest, where players can collect tools to help them progress. Yes, this video game will actually have your kids begging to go outside.

I have had the chance to observe my wife and son playing Pokémon Go. It’s anything but passive entertainment. They were visibly excited walking around the house and even explored some of the local trails and bike paths in search of Pokémon to capture. They returned home excited about the venture and looking forward to the next one.

Their experience with Pokémon Go contrasts greatly from what I’ve been hearing from many parents this summer in my role as a child psychologist. Parents are concerned about the fact that, even with the wonderful weather that we’ve had here in Rhode Island, their kids would rather sit at home playing their favorite games or surfing the Internet. Parents are legitimately concerned that too much of their kids’ time is being spent in front of a screen rather than going outside to play or spending time with their family and friends.

That’s why you should embrace this new phenomena and play Pokémon Go with your kids. One of the most common pieces of advice I give to parents is to play video games with their kids. Pokémon Go is a fantastic opportunity to play with your kids. Working together to search for Pokémon while taking a walk in your neighborhood or going on a visit to family and friends (of course to see them rather than to capture new Pokémon) provides an opportunity for exercise and interaction. Maybe even more exciting is the idea of your child finding special Pokémon in a location that you can go visit together — on the beach, at a local park, or a historical monument or memorial.

Here are a few other strategies for using Pokémon Go as part of a balanced Play Diet.

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Flickr user miguelb notes, “If my kids’ reaction is any indication, this Pokémon Go thing is going to be insane.”

Pokéstop and smell the roses. Collect more than just in-game goodies at Pokéstops. Pokéstops are usually historic monuments and memorials, so take a moment to learn some history and express some gratitude to the people who’ve given of themselves for the betterment of your community.

Poké party. Stop and talk to other Pokémon Go players you see out and about. This is great self-awareness practice and you already have something in common! Use the game as an icebreaker and you’ll probably end up helping each other. You may even make some new friends.

Move over Minecraft… Okay, so maybe Pokémon Go won’t permanently replace Minecraft in your home, but chances are that it has displaced it (or will). This is a welcome change for some parents who feared their children would never want to do anything else. But though they may tire of the game, Minecraft parents can also attest to the ways video games can introduce a child to new and different hobbies that can take them out of the game and even away from the screen. Nurture your child’s newfound (or renewed) love of Pokémon, because there are many ways to express that love — drawing and coloring, writing stories, play acting, directing YouTube videos, and maybe even coding their own game.

Have you started playing Pokémon Go with your kids? Tell us about your family’s experiences in the comments or come talk to us on Facebook!

 

Featured image: Flickr user Darren Mark Domirez

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In my work as a child psychologist, one of the things I see worrying parents the most is the “addictive” nature of social media and video game play. While I view most technology usage to be cognitively challenging and useful for kids, many parents worry about their kids only wanting to do things that involve a screen. And when it comes to kids with ADHD, Autism, and Learning Disabilities, stopping video game play can cause intense distress and arguments, to the point where many parents no longer want them to play games, no matter what the potential benefit may be.

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