So this video arrived in my inbox. Side note to all who are trying to send me email, since switching to the MAC and Outlook on said MAC, I have not mastered spam and junk mail control and so a lot of stuff is getting buried. Anyway, I spotted this video and being that we as a family spent all last summer playing the game, I thought I would check it out.
The message at the core of this little video is NOT about Pokemon or pop culture phenomenon. What it is, is a gentle reminder to parents that their kids are people too and their kids have their own interests and passions and while they may seem weird or insignificant, you need to respect those interests and use them to stay engaged and connected to your kids.
The film is called Why I’m Not on Pokémon Go and the answer is: why not? Why anything? Why sports? Why scrapbooking? Why knitting? Like most fads, they fade away and I bet his daughter hasn’t touched the app in months. My kids role their eyes when you mention it….it is SO last week according to them.
While Brant seemed mystified at the lure of the game, he didn’t really dive very deeply into the why and the how, which is a shame, because I do think that it will be just the first of the many new ways we will see digital and real merge. I think Pokemon Go was a hint at our digital future and how people will interact and connect.
Unlike Brant (perhaps we should have made a short film too), we sussed out pretty quickly that this app was a nice way to get the family together for some nice and easy summer time activities. We had some lovely evenings at Queen Elizabeth Park, the Olympic Village and downtown, soaking up the sites, the warm weather (remember warm weather?) and catching Pokemon at the same time.
As a parent of teen boy and an almost 13 year old girl, my advice to Brant, is to buckle up and be prepared to find way more things that interest his kids that he can figure out, because thanks to smart phones and the internet, the gap between their world and ours widens every day. Figuring out and understanding how teens and tweens use the internet and all the social and gaming apps out there is vital. For many reasons. The internet is their domain. They roam through cyberspace with no fear. What is weird or boring to you and I, is HILARIOUS to them. Their tribes are online now and instead of lurking on school grounds, parks or malls (though they still do that), their social lives are online in various Instagram groups and Snapchat.
Confiscating a teen’s smartphone isn’t the same as turning off the television or banning videogames. It’s not the same as barring them from using the telephone or “grounding” them so they can’t meet their friends at the mall. Taking away a kid’s phone is taking away all those things at once and more.
So I am glad that Brant didn’t go crazy and try to ban his daughter from playing Pokemon Go. That would have probably made things a whole lot worse for the two of them. And again, I bet she hardly looks at the app anymore.
Parenting teens and tweens is hard. OH MY GOD IT IS HARD. I work very hard at trying to keep the lines of communication as open as I can between myself and my son. Grounding tweens and teens and threatening to take away their connection to the internet does not really work. The genii left the bottle and now we just need to figure out who is in control. Teaching kids the right tools to navigate this world is far far better and far far safer too.
Brant was absolutely right to explore the phenomenon himself and use that knowledge to connect with his daughter. I don’t think you need to try to through Poke parties or go to New York to do it….but the point is……go learn about your kids passions. Even when they seem weird to you.