It’s an addicting game. Once you pick it up, you can’t put it down. The more you play, the more difficult it is to quit. I get it. I remember feeling a similar way when playing certain Nintendo games growing up, but things were different back then. We weren’t consumed by handheld devices nor did we depend on them to fulfill our daily lives. When we played outside, we actually played outside. I’m all for kids having fun with games, but there are many reasons why I will never introduce Pokemon GO to my kids.
Don’t Kids Know How to Play Anymore?
The other day, I took my kids to the park. They met someone new and were having fun until the young boy pulled out his iPhone and said he needed to find Pokemon. I was surprised because in the middle of real play, he wanted to stop to catch an imaginary creature. More than anything, it made me sad. What happened to just going to the park to play on the equipment and have fun with friends? Are kids losing out on actual play in their childhood because they are so consumed by technology, apps and games? My boys lost interest because it’s not fun to play with someone who is staring at a phone the whole time. I didn’t blame them.
Pokemon GO May Get Kids Outside But…
Does it really count as a positive outdoor activity? Sure they’re moving around and getting some exercise, but if our children are hooked on screens so much that they need another screen activity just to lure them outdoors, then there is a larger issue at hand. Getting kids outside in a positive way means getting them to play sports, games of tag, kickball, having face-to-face interaction, real conversations, real physical activity, and enjoying and exploring nature. Getting kids outside to only have their faces buried in a screen looking for virtual characters isn’t what I’d call healthy physical activity.
It’s defeating the purpose.
Isn’t the idea to get kids outdoors in order to move away from the screens, not closer to them?
If it’s really about fresh air and exercise, why not promote outdoor neighborhood activities instead, such as getting kids together to play games in the area, ride bikes, book sales, art activities, or block parties? Rather, Pokemon GO has kids totally locked in on the screen, roaming the streets at night, trespassing, and draining their data usage and battery at the same time. Not to mention the fact that accidents and injuries from games such as Pokemon GO and other smartphone activities are on the rise. The game also presents many other dangers as well that our kids shouldn’t even be involved in.
We are raising a generation of children who are addicted to screens, whether it’s smartphones or iPads. Their attention spans are getting shorter and they’re much more easily distracted.
I now limit my child’s screen usage to 45 minutes a day with a timer to stay on track. It used to be an hour but then my son would ask for a few more minutes and before I knew it an hour and a half had gone by. It’s so easy to lose track of time. It doesn’t take much to see how easily unconnected to life our children can become. Digital addiction can become a real problem, and at this point we don’t even know the detrimental effects screen overuse can have. Although certain games themselves appear harmless, it’s the amount of time spent playing them that’s the problem. I’d much rather them spend quality time outdoors or reading books and discovering new things instead.
Advancements in technology are useful and I’m thankful that kids have access to it for educational purposes, such as computer programming and STEM classes, but there are downsides as well and it can be destructive if misused.
We need to set the example.
If we’re always distracted by our phones and iPads, we’re teaching our kids that whatever is around us isn’t interesting enough to hold our attention. At the same time, the amount of fast-paced interacting stimulation our kids are getting from their own screen is making the real world appear boring, slow, and dull. No wonder we’re losing the ability to capture their full attention. Sometimes a technology detox is necessary in order to refresh and start over. The less time spent on it, the less dependent they become and the less they feel like they need it. Considering iPads are now being used in schools and replacing textbooks, a break from the screen is truly necessary. (Here’s an excellent article on the issues with the use of technology in school today.)
I worry about our future generation. I worry about their creativity, their headaches, their neck problems, their interpersonal skills, and writing skills. It’s up to us to guide them and keep them connected to what life has to offer, not just the next app.
As for Pokemon GO, I’ve been hearing that many people are losing interest. Although kids and adults are still enjoying it, the safety issues it has presented as well as the time-consuming empty-calories activity that it is, it wouldn’t be a bad thing if it disappears altogether. When that happens, let’s be sure to replace it with a healthy non-screen activity instead. We’d all be better off.