Pokemon Go: An adventure for the whole family
by Brenda Tan
“MY FAMILY is crazy!” wailed my 17-year-old teenager. “I’m supposed to be the one wild about Pokemon, but my father’s got more Pokemon and rarer Pokemon than me! Even Di-di has more Pokemon than I do! Hey, I’m suppose to be the gamer in this family!”
When Pokemon Go was launched on Saturday (August 6), my eldest was out of the house (and not on the computer!) for about an hour that morning, hunting Pokemon in the estate. He came back all excited about the Pokemon he caught, and the people he met, and where all the PokeStops were nearby.
The younger ones were extremely envious because their phones don’t have data roaming, only wifi access. Furthermore, they weren’t able to set up a Pokemon account because they are below 13 years old.
So, while waiting for dinner to be delivered that evening, I decided to download the app and set up the two younger kids’ Pokemon accounts under my parent account. After dinner, with their phones’ wifi tethered to my phone’s personal hotspot, my husband and I took the younger ones out for a short walkabout the estate – to see if we would have any success catching Pokemon beyond the initial one that came with downloading the App.
We encountered the initial frustrations of learning what to do at a PokeStop (swipe to get Pokeballs and eggs), and quickly learnt that a buzz from the phone indicated a Pokemon was nearby. The kids took great delight in interacting with their environment and catching Pokemon — and so did my husband!
We encountered a group of teenagers on the hunt, and one of the boys gave me a sheepish smile, which I returned — our “hunting tribes” differed only in age. I also encountered Pokemon Trainers (as they preferred to be called) who hunted alone.
Due to my health, my family managed to complete only a short walk, but even then I was able to catch four Pokemon! My more active tribe members caught a few more creatures than I did.
The excitement didn’t end when we got back though. The eldest who had to remain behind for a school project meeting, took a break to lecture the young ones on the creatures they’ve caught, their values, and how to evolve them. Needless to say, the younger ones went to bed that night happy and satisfied with the time they spent hunting.
The next day, my husband brought the young ones to Nex to visit the library, and while they were having lunch at MOS Burger, my husband caught 20 Pokemon, and the younger ones caught about 60 each!
When they got back home, their Kor-kor who was with his youth group for lunch were amazed by their haul, and he went on his little tirade. After dinner that night, the two younger kids got their dad to go for another hunt as a post-dinner workout!
Although I do see a lot of “Pokemon NO” posts on my Facebook feed and lots of references to Pokemon “zombies”, I’m actually glad that there is a game that is able to get my entire family excited, actively engaged in conversations, and spending time together.
My kids get active outdoors and discover their neighbourhood in greater detail (and intrinsically learning to read maps via the App), delighting in capturing Pokemon. I’m just happy that they aren’t lazing in a corner watching YouTube on their mobiles. The trio share tips about how to care for the creatures they caught, and strategise how to capture more Pokemon.
As for my Pokemon-expert teenager, all my husband or I need to do is to ask him for help, and he’s more than happy to spend time with his parents to teach us how to work the game. Who says teenagers are a sullen lot, who never have anything to say to their parents?
While the hype lasts, it’s really a good game for families, even if the only thing parents of younger kids do is to watch out for their children’s safety, as they look for Pokemon all over Singapore.
Our children’s enthusiasm for this game is understandable, as my eight-year-old puts it best: “We’re on a quest! An epic journey! We want to catch ‘em all!”
How do we start playing?
- Download the App on your smartphone.
- Create your account.
- Add children’s account and set security level.
- If your kids have their own phones but don’t have mobile data, you can create a personal hotspot with your phone, and tether the kids’ phones to yours. Tell your kids they need to stick close to you for the tethering to work, and they’ll stick to you like glue.
Where do we go?
The Pokemon Go app will show you where the PokeStops are in your area. PokeStops are where you can collect Pokeballs, which you will use to catch the Pokemon that appear.
If you’re hunting with the kids, it’s best to look for an area that has a cluster of PokeStops near each other, so that the kids can explore the area and be able to collect enough Pokeballs for catching Pokemon. The best places are parks and the PCNs, so it’s good to get the kids to get their ‘park gear’ ready – Water bottles for hydration, insect repellent, sunblock, walking shoes, hat and raincoats. That’s why Pokemon Hunters have a backpack!
For shorter hunts, look for nearby PokeStops in your estate. These can be a quick 30 min to 45 min hunt pre-dinner or post-dinner.
There are indoor areas, such as malls, where you can also hunt for Pokemon. However, the more interesting Pokemon and landmarks are usually found outdoors.
- Set ground rules and enforce it. If you say a violation of rules means going home, go home. If your kids know you mean business, they’d toe the line quickly.
- Know your kids. Do they have the maturity to hunt apart from you? How far apart? Also, alert the kids to lookout for joggers, cyclists, rollerbladers because the PCNs and parks are shared spaces. In fact, the younger your kids, the more physically connected you should be with them. Hold their hands… or onto their backpacks.
- Teach your kids to only look at the phone intermittently, to check if they are within the area of the Pokestop. They don’t really need to look at the screen while walking. The phone will buzz if there’s a Pokemon in the area.
- When the phone buzzes, teach the kids to stand at a safe place, out of cyclists and joggers’ path to catch the Pokemon.
- Take note of the time and try to arrange for rest-stops near a PokeStop.
- Regardless of where you’re hunting, get the kids to note something interesting at each PokeStop. Some PokeStop might have interesting write-ups in the app, while others could be more mundane. What else can the children see in the area that’s interesting?
- Along the way the kids might find Pokemon, but they might also find real creatures like insects, spiders, birds, or squirrels. Get the kids to “catch” these creatures on their mobile cameras and see if they can find out more about them later at home.
- As the kids look at the screen, teach them simple navigation skills like taking note of the compass, observing how the road looks like, and estimating how far the distance to walk between PokeStops.
- After the hunt, when the kids return home, teach them to look at their Pokemon and strategise with them about which Pokemon to exchange for candies, and which Pokemon to groom. A lot of these strategies are available online, and it would be good to explore them together with your kids.
What if my child gets addicted to Pokemon Go?
It’s doubtful that kids can get addicted to Pokemon Go in the same way they would be to a computer game, as part of the Pokemon Go game-play requires the gamer to walk some distance to catch Pokemon. Nonetheless, if your child is enthusiastic about the game, use it to your advantage as an incentive to get their chores and homework done quickly.
Featured image and photos by Brenda Tan.
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