It’s safe to say that this has been The Summer of Pokémon GO. Even though no one wants to think about it, summer doesn’t last forever. September is less than a month away, the air is changing, the days are getting shorter… but your kids are happy to play Pokémon GO for as long as daylight allows. Our advice: let them. Play along, even. Vacation will be over soon enough, and believe it or not, Pokémon GO can actually help mentally prepare kids for school. Let’s break it down.
Pokémon GO exercises major executive functions like focus, flexibility, planning, self-awareness, and time management — important skills kids need to build upon as they progress in school. These skills help them with:
Concentration. Of course focus is at the top of this list. Pokémon GO, as an augmented reality (AR) game, is a different digital play experience than a traditional video game that only requires that players keep their eyes on the screen. Pokémon GO players may be capturing monsters on the screens of their devices, but they are playing in the real world. In order to be successful in the game and stay safe and out of real-world trouble, they must pay attention to their surroundings as well as the game. This kind of multi-tasking practice is valuable, especially for older kids.
Changing itineraries. Pokémon GO players know that in order to keep finding new and better Pokémon to capture, new ground has to be covered. One day it’s the park, the next day it’s a friend’s street, the day after that it’s a new neighborhood altogether. Different routes are mapped with every adventure. Schedules are rarely the same from year-to-year — new class times and lengths, new sports and activity schedules — so changing things up for Pokémon GO can be the key to helping your child adjust and adapt when it really matters.
Increased expectations. As Trainers progress in Pokémon GO, they’ll need to work harder to be successful. Rare Pokémon with better skills are more difficult to capture. Hatching eggs takes more resources. Longer Pokémon journeys require a bit more planning. As students progress, academic expectations increase in the same way. In the same way that keeping an eye on the clock means making the most of their Pokémon GO play time, it can help them complete longer, more difficult homework assignments more efficiently. Which gives them more time to play.
New faces and new places. Pokémon GO has been praised for making kids want to get out of the house, see new things, and meet new people. From players with autism and ADHD to those dealing with anxiety and depression, Pokémon GO is helping kids explore their neighborhoods and make new friends — and they’re exercising flexibility and self awareness in the process. These are two major thinking skills that work in a kid’s favor, not just while playing games, but when they encounter any new situation. For kids starting at a new school, with a new teacher, or meeting new peers (any kid, basically), these are the skills to nurture.
To learn more about the kinds of skills Pokémon GO helps kids practice and how to help them apply these skills to their daily lives, see our Pokémon GO Playbook. We’ve even included sections on ADHD and autism, as well as a video to help you get started with the game itself.
Featured image: Flickr user Kelly