Guiding our children in making Christ-like decisions
when it comes to gaming and media-discernment
It’d be rather rare if you’re a parent who hasn’t already been asked by your child for the umpteenth time if he can play Pokémon Go along with the other 30 million users from a peak of over 40 million users in late July. Perhaps, you may have even given it a go yourself.
This latest fad has pretty much consumed much of Singapore. Take a walk down the Marina Bay Sands waterfront, for example, and you’ll see swarms of people moving around in droves, eyes glued to their smart phones and mobile devices, seeking out Pokémon. Whether it be to have bragging rights at being the first among family and friends to capture that rare Pokémon or to actually capture every single Pokémon on the Pokédex – the entire inventory of Pokémon released by its game makers – the young and not-so-young have all jumped on the bandwagon. But what exactly is Pokémon Go for some of us who haven’t had the chance to investigate this game thoroughly?
Pokémon Go is a new breed of video game called “augmented reality.” Players walk around — looking at a virtual map on their smartphones that corresponds with the real world — to capture the magical, imaginary creatures known as Pokémon (short for “Pocket Monsters”). Once players snare enough digital critters and gain sufficient experience, they can challenge others at virtual Pokémon Gyms (locations where players gather to battle).
What else do we, as Christian parents, need to know in order to guide our children in making decisions that are pleasing to our Heavenly Father regarding this game and other online games for that matter?
The Plus Points
This is one game that will not turn your child into a couch potato. Your child will have no choice but to get active as she moves around your estate and beyond to search for Pokémon to capture. It can potentially help parents and children to bond over an activity that people of all generations can enjoy. The game is uncomplicated and easy to learn.
The Minus Points
A game that encourages your child to explore his environment while glued to a mobile device can bring with it inherent dangers and inconveniences to himself and others. Since the game’s release, we’ve read reports in The Straits Times about car accidents happening, hordes of people dashing across the streets of Hougang and entire HDB estates awash with people disturbing the peace of its residents – all in search of capturing that much coveted Pokémon. In other parts of the world, people have been reported to walk off cliffs and some have been lured into areas where they have been robbed and assaulted.
This game also allows for increased interaction with random strangers and is as such, potentially dangerous for our younger or more impressionable ones who move about unsupervised in their quest for more Pokémon.
Another point to address would be Pokémon’s overarching worldview which borders on the magical and is loosely based on Eastern-inspired mythology with emphasis on evolution – Pokémon can develop to become bigger and more powerful versions of themselves throughout the game. This worldview is worth addressing with our children to help them ascertain the impact the game might or might not have on their individual faith journeys, especially since Pokémon Go can potentially incite our children to delve deeper into the rest of the Pokémon franchise which includes other video games, movies, TV programs, trading cards and memorabilia collecting.
This latest gaming trend serves as a good reminder to all parents and adults to start thinking about, if we haven’t already done so, as to how we can wisely help our younger generation make informed choices in entertainment media and determine the appropriate boundaries we need to set for them.
Pokémon Go undeniably offers families opportunities to get fit and have fun together, but it is vital that each family prayerfully decides together on boundaries to be set so that our children do not lose sight of what truly matters in the eyes of our Lord.
©2016 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.
For practical tips on navigating the world of Pokémon Go, download our Pokémon Go Guide (www.family.org.sg/pokemongo) which highlights discerning discussion points to help you decide what is best for your children.