My excuse for any craze that comes along is that I'm a youth worker and have to check it out as a youth work tool, risk assess and generally judge its appropriateness for those I work with. That's my excuse. That's why, as I sit here writing this I am watching my phone for when the nearby Pokéstop at the fountain refreshes so I can obtain more Pokéballs so I can get more Pokémon. That's my excuse.
On a serious level, with worries from parents about the game, doing some research is of value in just working out why there are so many stories related to this craze. Of course it's been in the US and Australia much longer and only recently came to the UK and a lot of those stories are from inexperience in the game and lack of awareness or care. So in the UK maybe we can learn from our distant friends. We don't attempt to cross the road or drive while texting, so it would make sense not to use the phone for other reasons in this way. We don't go picking flowers in other people's gardens or trespass on private property because we know not to. And we don't let our kids off anywhere unsupervised unless we are sure they in an environment and are of an age, ability and aptitude to be safe.
So here is my cost-benefit analysis of Pokémon hunting...
- It gets people out walking – gives motivation to people to exercise to find Pokémon and to hatch eggs.
- It gets people noticing their surroundings – many Pokéstops are at historical sites or places you pass every day and never notice.
- It gets people exploring – people have to sometimes go off the beaten track of their usual environment sometimes to find particular stops, gyms or Pokémon and discover new places and activities.
- You can be part of the conversation – whether you like it or don't, at least you know what it is. No it's not people coming dressed up as if for Comicon as one person I know thought (although today my partner did see a life size Picachu in the West End – perhaps advertising).
- It gets people outdoors – instead of being cooped up indoors watching TV or playing computer games, the game can be played outside in the fresh air getting some Vitamin D.
- It's fun and silly – we need fun and silly things in our lives to combat all the serious and mundane and sad and irritating and frustrating things.
- It's free – although there are in-app purchases available, there is no need to buy anything, if you are willing to put time and effort in. Which is all part of its charm – you get motivated by the need for more Pokéballs and to add to your Pokémon collection.
- It gives little pocket-size bits of achievement. You feel a tiny little sense of achievement every Pokémon, stop, or egg hatched...even learning the rules of the game and how the Poké-world works is something to be a little bit smug about.
- It brings people together gaming, not just online but in real life, groups of friends are meeting to go on Pokémon-walks, Pokémon hunting, Pokémon Picnics taking turns to put a lure on a Pokéstop.
- It's a cute date – there's nothing like a sunset walk along London's Southbank and a bit of Poké -tracking on the side and taking a Poké-picture of your loved one with their favourite Pokémon.
- It's, if nothing else, a cure for boredom – six weeks of summer holidays can be long and tedious and Pokémon Go could be just the solution.
Nothing but time, as long as we are sensible and aware of our surroundings and don't do anything we wouldn't do outside the game. Just don't trespass, stay safe and supervise your children.
And why not play as a family – it's free, fun and will tire them out and give you all a good nights sleep. And here's a Parent's Guide to Playing Pokémon Go with Your Kids from Lifehacker.