Admittedly, I was that parent with the vehement opposition to installing Pokemon Go on my kids’ phone. I thought to myself, “Hell no! I do not want my kids roaming around like zombies staring at their phones. Bad enough we have adults glaring into their phones, now the kids!?” Until, like all my other thoughts and words, I ate those words. Caving to the kid pressures,Â I allowed my teenage son to download the app to play this game. The decision was probably the best thing for The Chad, I, and our son. You see when G started playing, the kid got outside more. He started walking, and walking quite a bit. He would text me asking me for the conversion of kilometers to miles. The first day G played Pokemon Go, he walked over a mile and a half through our neighborhood. I was sold that Pokemon Go was the exercise app of the year.
I know, I know. Some of you are shaking your heads. How could I let my son roam the neighborhood without supervision? How could I let him play these silly games?
The process was easy. We created him an account online at PokemonGo.com, downloaded the app on his phone and set him free. We asked that he check in with us throughout his adventure, and he did. We asked that he carry water to stay hydrated, he did. We asked that he be aware of his surroundings while playing, so that he was aware of everything going on around him, and he did.
With the simple click into the app store, my kid was off and away exercising to his hearts desire. By exercise I mean walking for hours and miles. What better way to get kids moving and off the couch than with a video game that goes where they go. Some of you may be in shock and awe at my cavalier attitude regarding my son, plus my twins, roaming about our neighborhood. Playing a video game. With no adults. Helicopter parents might be experiencing some form of skin crawling reaction to the thought of kids in a neighborhood playing sans adults. The threat of child predators and dangers that lurk in the shadows. Here’s the thing, these dangers existed when we were kids and when our parents were kids. Stranger danger has always been a concern, we need not pretend this is a new problem.
These types of situations are what our children need in order to deal with awkward and dangerous situations before they are adults. Growing up we called child predators “weirdos.” As a gaggle of friends, or siblings, or individually, we would run away laughing at the “weirdos” and the new experience. Worse yet, we would stand our ground telling off the weirdos as we had strength in numbers. We learned to deal with uncomfortable situations that bordered on unsafe. Exuding our boundaries, finding escapades that lie in our neighborhood, using imagination, critical thinking, and learning some common sense. I can recall a home in our neighborhood with an amazing swing-set in the front yard. We would take the long way to school, just to stop there in the morning and play all by ourselves in the well manicured lawn of a stranger. Had we not wandered about as kids, we would never have found this gem that still brings back great memories of jumping off that same swing-set at high speed, barefoot, onto the dewy grass in the early autumn morning.
Maybe I sound reckless by allowing my kids to walk around our neighborhood for hours without a parent. I see sending my child off into the world to figure out basic things we take for granted; understanding landmarks, knowing your surrounding, possibly facing a situation where he/she should stand up for themselves and the chance of meeting new friends. Sending my kids into the world with little to no exposure to the harsh, stark reality of adulthood is more reckless in my eyes.
Above all else, my kids are moving! Pokemon Go has created an opportunity for them to go out and play around our neighborhood. While playing, they have had the opportunity to meet other neighborhood kids that attend different schools due to boundary lines. So while adults have their FitBit where they have made a game of tracking their steps. Pokemon Go has in essence created a very similar environment that gets kids, and adults alike, out and about, getting a healthy amount of exercise without any stress. How many of you have let your kids play Pokemon Go? What do you think? How many of you were like me and did not want your kids to play?