Poke’mon GO Gets Kids GOing

Pokémon GO is crazy!  Kids who aren’t generally drawn to physical activity are outside, walking around town with their devices, playing this game that makes no sense to me.  But see what I just wrote?  Kids are WALKING around town – outside, being active instead of sitting inside, playing video games – and that makes Pokémon GO a big deal.  I talk to parents all the time who are hungry for ways to help their sedentary children be more active: for them, this is a win!

Normally, I wouldn’t call encouraging the relationship between children and a device “a win.”  However, your device is a tool. And, in this case, it can be a tool to help your kids become more active. And, in the age of ever-increasing screen-time, I think we can all agree that’s a victory.

This opportunity for extra activity is great, but will it end as soon as the novelty of Pokémon GO wears off? Will the next big game be active as well, so that children will continue to get outside and move?We don’t know that.

But here’s what we do know: as parents, we can use this opportunity to instill an appreciation of movement in our kids so that, when the game loses its appeal,the physical activity doesn’t go with it.

Here’s what I did.

  1. I downloaded the game and started playing to gain an understanding of it. When in Germany, it helps to speak German.
  2. I invited my son to play with me. He accepted with gusto!
  3. I set a time limit of 30 minutes (our normal limit for gaming), and, with my phone in his hand, we set off to search for Pokémon.
  4. We walked, strategized, ran, and captured.All we talked about for the 30 minutes was Pokémon! It was great!
  5. Once the 30 minutes ended, we turned off the phone. We were about 30 minutes away from our home (hmm, mysterious), so we started to walk back.
  6. The walk home was full of Pokémon talk, but we also talked about cool things we saw along the way. Oh, and it only took 15 minutes to get back home since we weren’t focused on the phone.
  7. When we got home, with my son raved to Mom about how much fun we had, and couldn’t wait to go again.

My goal is that he will appreciate more about our walks than just the Pokémon. This way, if the game loses its appeal,the walks will maintain theirs.  And who knows what that appeal may be: it could be the search for something and adventure of what we may find, the conversation and camaraderie, or just the sensations and stimulus of being outside.In the meantime, I am making an investment in our relationship.  Wins all around!

In my experience, some children aren’t internally motivated to be physically active. That’s okay! They don’t need to love to exercise – they just need to appreciate it as part of what they do love.

Pokemon Go is just one of many unique opportunities you have as a parent to help your child become more active.  Good luck as you try to “Catch them all!”