Should Pokémon Go Be Banned In Australia?
It is Census time in Australia.
There is much buzz in the media about it and its potential effect on our privacy. Many people opted to leave their name off the form; or, not complete the form altogether.
In Iran, privacy is also in the news. No Census there at the moment; however, there is Pokémon Go and it is causing problems. Pokémon Go, along with other augmented reality games that use location based virtual reality technology, have been banned. It appears that the Iranian government is concerned about people wandering into sensitive areas whilst on the hunt for Pokémon and compromising national security.
Perhaps Iran does not face the obesity problems experienced in the Western world. In some circles, Pokémon Go has been credited with getting the idle youth off the couch and into the wide open spaces of Australia. It has also been linked to helping create better family unity as mums and dads scour local parks with their children and assorted pets.
Keeping children away from screens has been the focus of many adolescent health groups and individuals like myself. Pokémon Go has caused us to rethink. Generation Z (and other generations before) have a fixation with screen related devices. They have grown up with them and know no different. As children interact with these devices, activity levels have decreased and obesity levels have increased.
Pokémon Go is a fad. It is in fashion now, but will not last long. Like other games before, e.g. Candy Crush, the novelty will wear off. New games will be developed and our focus will shift. I challenge game developers to continue to run with the ball that was kicked off by Pokémon Go.
As a Physical Educator, I have been aware of the value of technology and apps that have been developed over the last ten years that have been beneficial to advancing the cause of physical activity. The challenge is to walk the right side of the fine line when it comes to screen based technology. We do not want this technology to merely act as a baby sitter or a distraction from the hands on parenting role for which we are responsible if we choose to have children.
Pokémon Go is merely glorified Orienteering, Rogaining or Rallying – which have all been around for years. However, I am sure that if we, as parents, mentioned to our virtual reality gaming offspring, that we join the local Orienteering club, we would be met with a blank stare in return. That would merely take them away from catching Pokémon.
Where to from here?
• If your children are playing, or ask to play Pokémon Go, say yes – with conditions.
• If your children are young, 12 years or under at least, they should be fully supervised with both the use of screen based applications and definitely in the playing of the game.
• If your children are older than 12, explain the dangers of racing around the suburbs looking at a screen (it’s like texting and driving) and take the time to play the game with them – great family time and interaction.
• Draw their attention to other similar pursuits – treasure hunts, orienteering, rogaining, rallying – and also take the time to point out parks, playgrounds and exercise equipment that they could use at other times.
• Here is a thought – you could even use them too!
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