By Jennifer Schultz for The Mommy Brief
Pokémon Go is a family affair.
Kids and video games. Some parents say kids play them too much – and kids say they play them too little. When I was younger, we were very lucky to have an Atari console with a few games that we played on a little 13″ black & white TV. Can’t recall how long we played with them, as we spent a lot of time outdoors, but, I do remember having fun playing lots of Pacman!
Being somewhat of a video game lover, my own family has had Sega, PlayStation, Wii and Xbox systems through the years that have provided hours of learning and enjoyment for myself, my kids and yes, my biggest kid of all – my husband. These games can sometimes cause kids, including my own, to play longer than they should and it’s something that as a mom, I have to monitor.
Fast forward to the recent release of Pokémon Go – a virtual, interactive video game that gets players off the couch, out of the house and into the real world. Since I am an “age gap mommy” – meaning my kids are several years apart – 19 and 10 respectively, I am very familiar with Pokémon. My daughter who is now 19, grew up from the age of 5, watching the Pokémon animated series, collected both Pokémon cards, figurines and stuffed animals, and insisted that we go to the premiere of Pokémon The Movie at the movie theater.
My son who is 10, really didn’t seem to have an interest in watching Pokémon on TV, however, when kids at school were trading cards, we had to go out and buy some so he could join in. As soon as Pokémon Go came out, my son asked to download the app to my phone and wanted to know when we could head outside to catch Pokémon.
Almost every day we have headed out to add some Pokémon to our Pokedex. The excitement that my son exudes while playing this game with me is amazing. He is learning about streets in our neighborhood, where the police and fire stations are, where local water can be found, where there are some electrical sources and so much more. The talks that we have about other things: his friends, soccer strategies, how he is feeling about entering 5th grade, are all integrated into our hunt for Pokémon. He spends time researching online where more Pokémon can be found and plans where we need to go to get them whether it be our local Giant supermarket or our local park.
Now I have always been a hands-on Mom that plays with my kids, coaches their sports, talks to them a lot and showers them with lots of love. But, when we are hunting Pokémon it’s different. My son even said to me just yesterday, “Mom, I am so happy when we go together to look for Pokémon, we have so much fun together.”
And when I looked at him – his eyes were twinkling – almost looking through me to my heart – saying thank you, thank you mom for taking interest in what I like to do. And I almost teared up a little – but – I was able to brush it off as I was so excited that we had caught Pikachu just after a lighting storm.
The best part is how surprised my son is that I know so many different Pokémon names and what they can evolve into.
Now for any parent reading this who hasn’t had the chance to walk or run with your child to hunt for Pokémon, dive right in, take the time, join in the Pokémon Go hunt with your child. Who knows what you might learn.