“Everyone Should Play Pokemon Go” – according to my 8 year old

Well, not really. I mean, yes – and no.

That particular line was his speech which he prepared for one of his assignments in school, and he decided to extol the virtues of playing Pokemon Go. I asked him what his reasons “for” were, and he couldn’t remember them all – but his top reason is “It helps you to exercise.”

Pokemon Go launched in Australia just a month ago, and I have to confess – I was the one to download it first, and I told the boys about it. Before this, they’ve never watched a single episode of the cartoon, they don’t have the Nintendo handheld game sets, so they’ve also never “caught” a Pokemon before. They have seen some of the Pokemons around, but have no real idea of the background. I was introduced by reading up some articles, and we were all very excited to download it. I put in on my iPhone, and also on the boys’ two iPads (which were wifi enabled only).

So on July 10, 2016, the game was downloaded and we were all ready to start catching some Pokemons. Given my reluctance to waste precious data, we decided, during the boys’ school holidays, we would take a walk around the University campus. Unfortunately, the day we chose to go a-hunting was July 12. The day the game experienced such a huge load. That is crashed. So there we were, faced with the blue screen of death and it totally rained on our parade. Catch Pokemons? PFFFFT! The boys got bored of it in 30 minutes, and even after I realised what was happening, the boys were OVER IT. The game had let them down. Boo.

That day, we checked out the original Pokemon cartoon series (thank you, YouTube!) and the boys finished through the entire Season 1 of the series (and a little of Season 2) by the time their school holidays ended.

And then the Pokemon fever really started. The boys realised that their friends were playing the game. And more than just Pokemon Go, the Pokemon trading cards were making a HUGE comeback on the school grounds! (NO) Thanks to past trading cards that Woolsworths rolled out, the boys were experienced card-traders, and before I knew it I found myself getting Jayvon a box of Pokemon trading cards.

So the trading cards, combined with the cartoon series on YouTube has really helped to spark both the boys’ interest.

More than just being a spectator, Jayvon decided to create his OWN card series, naming it Plasmamon. He created four cards, drew his own “monsters” and thought up of their quirks and attack powers, and his friends were instantly drawn in. Even in the class setting, together with his friend, they were creating new cards, and almost everyday after school, the boys would be regaling me with the latest and greatest in their card game land.

And all this, in turn, has helped the boys become interested once more in Pokemon Go.

I’ve always been maintaining the account on my mobile, as I find it something to do on my long 1KM walks to the boys’ school. Plus – living on campus means we are literally living above two PokeStops (yes, I know, you may hate me) and the campus itself is a huge network of maaaaany Pokestops within walking distance from our home. So walking the short distance to the car, I can walk past about 5 or 6 PokeStops each time. Now that the boys have a rekindling of their interest, it makes for many interesting encounters.

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The boys with their iPad in hand!

Like that time, when Jayvon and I were walking home from school (Xavier was home sick that day), and we hatched a Pikachu. We. Hatched. A. Pikachu. We turned, mouths agape as that pic showed, and Jayvon literally screamed in joy – “PEEEEEEEEE-KAAAAAAA-CHOOOOOOOO!” Hahaha! It was hilarious, but only because I was as excited as him.

Or that time when we had just pulled up to the carpark, and when I turned the app on… lo and behold, we saw the silhouette of the elusive Kangaskhan. KANGASKHAN! We piled out of the car and tried walking around to see if we could catch him, but alas! No such luck that day.

So this game has provided plenty of fodder for conversation, and fun aside, we also laid down ground rules.

Our Pokemon Go Ground Rules

#1: No walking on the road and playing. Even when I am walking back from school with the kids, I will have the app turned on, but I will either close my cover, or use the battery-saving mode, and flip the phone over so that the screen goes blank. When there is a Pokemon to catch, my phone vibrates, and then I pass to the boys in turn to catch, before we continue walking.

#2: A turn is a turn is a turn. So you may catch a Pidgey for each of your turn, but too bad, there’s no wriggling and “stealing” a turn. The boys are pretty good at cooperating, and they know any argument of any sort is really a lose-lose situation, so this has worked well so far.

#3: Even with my Rule #1, there can be times it can get crazy-exciting, so the key is always in safety first!

#4: And this is my personal rule… there shalt be no evolving without my expressed permission. Haha!

Check out some of our Pokemons!

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Yes. Jayvon renamed each Pokemon captured!

I enjoy our Pokemon Go adventures with my kids. Even Zoie has caught a few herself. Though she did waste use 13 of my Ultra Balls just yesterday, trying to catch a Bellsprout. The boys were beside themselves “Nooooooo Zoie!!!!! STOP! Not THAT ball…. NO!!!” But of course she ignored them. My heart might have cracked into three pieces then, but love overcomes all.

I do it… for the common conversation. It is hard to find a game that they love and that I am good at. The kids love Minecraft but oh goodness me, I can only last 15 minutes TOPS before a headache comes on. But apart from Minecraft (which I have at least come into contact with so I have a vague idea of what they are talking about), we try to be involved in every other activity they are interested in.

Jayvon is 8 years old now. Xavier is 5.

I have no illusions that in just a few years time, “Mummy” might be too uncool to hang out with or talk to. Building common bridges is something I think should be done now, not when they are 16. So the hubby talks to the kids about all matters concerning soccer (which Jayvon loves), and argue about who THE greatest soccer player is, and how to become a professional soccer player in the future, he talks to them about science, about space… and yes, as shallow as it may seem, I at least have Pokemon Go in common with the kids. My knowledge about space and science is limited to say the least. Haha! But hey – Pokemon Go is one more bridge of a common love, and we get a common language too.

(The hubby doesn’t play Pokemon Go, by the way, and has on more than one occasion made disparaging remarks about people on the street who seem over-engrossed in their phones, which he quickly assumes are Pokemon hunters. But he has now learnt to live with it, and even tried to help us with the Kangaskhan-hunting that time too. But see, I don’t understand soccer either, so we each do what we can).

There are dangers – yes. Even in school, Jayvon would be telling me his teacher would speak to them about how people have been in accidents or even caused accidents due to the game. And that’s a good thing to teach the kids, to be aware of the dangers around even when playing the game!

Do you play this game too? Do you allow your kids to? Why and why not? 

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