Catching imaginary pocket monsters boosts family bonding and exercise
Quality time, fresh air and exercise – families wanna catch ‘em all.
And parents find that playing Pokemon Go with their kids bags these benefits and more, according to a University of Washington report.
This is the first scientific survey to study and interview parents playing the hit mobile game from Niantic, which raked in $206.5 million in just the first month following its July 2016 debut. Players of all ages have been captivated by the augmented reality of the game, which taps a smartphone’s camera and GPS to “find” the anime monsters in the real world. The game also encourages exercise by making players walk around to locate the critters and to hatch in-game eggs, revealing more pocket monsters.
“Location-based augmented reality games are pretty different than sitting in front of a TV or playing a typical video game, so we were interested in the way kids and their parents were sharing those experiences together,” wrote the lead author.
Some 67 parents were surveyed, and another 20 moms and dads playing Pokemon Go with their kids in a Seattle park were interviewed. And while many parents said the game helped them spend more quality time with their kids, researchers noted the experience seemed to bridge the gender gap in particular. Mothers of sons and fathers of daughters raved about talking more than usual with their kids – and not just about the game.
“I think it’s just helping us find a common thing we can do together as a mom and a boy, and that’s really awesome for me,” the mother of an 8-year-old said in the study. “As a boy coming home from school, they don’t tell you what they ate or … what the teachers said, but now he’s telling me this stuff, so it’s a good way to be communicating.”
The parents also credited taking “Poke-walks” with making exercise fun, noting their kids are getting more excited about going outside, walking the dog or taking a stroll to dinner, rather than just piling into the car or melting into the couch. Some folks said these Poke-walks helped children take thousands of extra steps a day, and one dad reported his 11-year-old daughter lost 12 pounds playing.
The game also appeals to the whole family because it’s easy to learn and to play together – and it’s also easy to put away. You can tuck the phone into a pocket and wait until it vibrates – which means a Pokemon is nearby – before pulling it out and playing again.
And parents are jumping on the Pokemon bandwagon more than Minecraft or some other games kids are obsessed with because many moms and dads grew up with the animated monsters in 1990s.
All’s not perfect in Pokeland, however, Parents also worried about kids being so glued to the phone that they walked into traffic or worried less about talking to strangers, who might show interest in the game. But that’s the point of playing together – parents can keep an eye on their kids while keeping an eye out for Pikachu.
Read more: How I used a Fitbit to bond with my son
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