Over the past two weeks, Pokemon Go has taken the world by storm. Over 25 million people have downloaded the app and are out in our neighborhoods. Players are EVERYWHERE hunting for Pokemon, setting lures to draw them in, battling for gyms and recuperating needed supplies at PokeStops. By now even if you aren’t playing, you know the rest of us when you see us… we are walking around everywhere looking up and down at our phones and stopping once in awhile to flick our fingers across our screens. We congregate in certain areas because we have heard they are hot spots for catching rare Pokemon, and you see our fists pump accompanied by our enthusiastic “YES!” when we catch something new.
I admit it… I am a highly educated 45 year old woman, and I am a Pokemon Go addict, and glad I am. I know I’m not alone… I’ve mingled with some of my peers recently who also make those sideways glances at their phones to see if a Pokemon has crossed their path! This weekend at my son’s lacrosse tournament, I actually chose where to sit and watch the games because it was situated right in between two PokeStops! I went from level 14 to level 16 over the course of the weekend!
My husband Dave and I downloaded the app on the second day of its release, and I haven’t looked back (unless of course, I need to look back to capture a Pikachu). So now that I have been playing for two weeks and have reached Level 17, here are the three things I’m loving most about playing Pokemon Go (and I think you will too)
Learning together: Both my children (I have a 12 year old daughter and a fifteen year old son) and ALL of their friends are playing, and I can guarantee you all of your students are playing too. What has been so awesome as a parent, is that my children and I have been learning the language and the rules of the game together. I have constantly been engaged in conversation after conversation with my kids and their friends about the game. They are teaching me stuff, and I am teaching them. We are comparing our Pokemon, teaching each other new tricks and strategies and collectively we are getting better. From them I have learned things like how to delete items to get more storage space, the “pidgey hack”, and the best times to use my lucky eggs… they have made me better! Putting myself in the role of a learner with my kids is a wonderful place to be.
Connecting and Collaborating: What an awesome opportunity this has been to connect and collaborate with my own children and their friends. While it is often the case that when I drive a group of teens around town, I’m simply background noise if I talk to them. Now I’m an engaged partner in the conversations. They want to know which Pokemon I have caught and what their CP levels are… they want to show me their phones and celebrate their latest catch. We share genuine excitement when we come across a rare Pokemon, take over a gym, or hatch an egg, and we commiserate with each other when our screens freeze or the game won’t load. We have also had serious discussions about how we think the game could improve. (Niantic… If you are reading this, we unanimously agree that their need to be additional ways to earn stardust, and we also strongly believe that when you transfer higher CP Pokemon or evolved Pokemon, you should get more candy!) What a treat these types of conversations are for those of us who parent (or educate) kids at this age.
Getting outside and exploring our neighborhood: Because we are all on a quest for Pokemon, my children have been willing to go anywhere with me. In the past two weeks we have been to Balboa Park, the Coronado ferry landing, the Oceanside pier, Chicano Park and many other places we wouldn’t have been this summer, some of which we have never even been to before. I even think I will be able to convince my kids to go to the zoo with me next week. We have walked and hiked and sometimes just sat together for thirty minutes chatting while we drop a lure and wait to see what comes our way. The game is getting us outside allowing us to explore new places and revisit old stomping grounds. We have shared memories of times we have been there before, and we are creating new ones now. The game is causing us to ask each other, where do we want to go next?
I have heard many adults over the past few weeks complain about the game and the “damage” it is doing to our kids and our society, and I wholeheartedly disagree. It has been a wonderful opportunity for me to be a part of something that matters to my kids, and we are having a blast playing together. If you are a parent or a teacher and haven’t given it a shot, try it out… I think you’ll be glad you did!