The Benefits of Pokemon Go?

I confess that I never thought I’d be looking into the benefits of Pokemon Go, but here I am…

How it all started

When Pokemon Go launched two and a half years ago, DH said no one in our household would ever play the game. After hearing numerous stories about people walking into objects, in front of cars, and falling into water, or uncovered manholes, he was convinced that this game was dangerous. That didn’t bother the kids because they weren’t into Pokemon anyway.

But you should know that when you’re a parent, you should never say “never”.

Some months later, G1 picked up Pokemon in a big way. First, he was obsessed with the Pokemon Trading Card Game. Next, it was Pokemon Ultra Sun and Moon on the Nintendo DS. Then the Pokemon Company linked their games. Now you could earn special characters on Pokemon Go and transfer them to your Let’s Go Pokemon Game on the Nintendo Switch. Like, really?

It was a clever marketing ploy, but it was bad news for parents. What was once a game G1 didn’t really care for became his new obsession. Please could he play Pokemon Go, please, Please, PLEASE! I wasn’t ready to budge, but DH said, “Write me a 1000 word essay on why I should let you play Pokemon Go.” I thought that would be the end of it, but here it is, his essay:

The 1000 Word Essay

This is the essay exactly as it was written with no edits or corrections. I will confess that I was itching to edit it, but I resisted.

Why I should get Pokemon Go
1000 words
By G1

One reason why I should get Pokemon Go is that it will motivate me to go on more hikes and to new places, as certain Pokemon can only be caught in certain places. This would expose me to nature, and children’s lungs work better and have fewer breathing problems when exposed to air with less pollution. Walking in forests would also benefit my eyes, as looking at green is supposed to be good for my vision. Another benefit would be that being in greener places are good for your brain, testing attention and memory.

Getting the game will also influence me to do more exercise because you have to walk to hatch eggs and collect candy with your ‘walking buddy’. Several scientific studies(I’m not making this up) show that Pokemon Go increases physical activity.
For instance, one study found out that Pokemon Go increased the number of people who walk over 10,000 steps a day from 15% to 28%. Another showed that Pokemon Go players raised moderate to vigorous physical activity by about 50 minutes a week.
A survey proved that players walked almost 1000 extra steps on average during the first week of the game’s release.

This also means that I will be exposed to more sunlight, which will mean I have more Vitamin D, which, by my research, will help me absorb more calcium and phosphorus, boost my immune system, help my bones and teeth grow and improve my resistances to certain diseases such as certain cancers, heart disease, diabetes, childhood obesity and muscle diseases! Vitamin D also boosts weight loss and reduces depression!

Yet another benefit of playing Pokemon Go is that it is a game that improves cognitive performance. A study found out that, after playing for over two months, teenagers had greater social intelligence and cognitive performance, for instance, improving attention and concentration levels. Another long term study found that children who played strategic video games(note that even though Pokemon Go was not amongst these games, as it had not been released yet, is is still a game that involves strategy and planning!) made improvements in their problem-solving skills and achieved higher grades. The difference between Pokemon Go and other brain training games is that it also promotes physical activity, which is beneficial to children by helping develop skills.

My hand-eye coordination might also improve from Pokemon Go, as there are several parts of the game that require quick reflexes, such as battling and capturing Pokemon. This would be beneficial as it would also boost my agility and athleticism, and even my typing speed would be improved, making it more efficient for my homework and other things.

Pokemon Go is also somewhat educational. In the game there are places called Pokestops where you can collect resources such as Pokeballs and Razz Berries. However, these Pokestops are not only used for getting more items. They are representatives of certain places such as historical sites or landmarks. This allows players to learn more about the surrounding area! Besides learning more about the area around me, education correlates to certain health benefits such as prevention of dementia. This is mostly associated with formal education yet even exercising the mind in little ways helps.

Pokemon Go, in a way, brings people together. Many people say that technology is
making us antisocial, yet there are certain aspects of the game that do quite the opposite. One example is a Raid Battle. In a Raid Battle, either a massiveness yet normal Pokemon or a Legendary appears and it takes the efforts of many to attack and successfully bring it down. Another example is setting a Lure. Lures are set at any Pokestop, as previously explained, and they increase the number of wild Pokemon in the surrounding area for thirty minutes, and the Lures seem to work on people just as well as Pokemon…

Pokemon Go puts thing into the world that are normally not present. This means it includes a sort of virtual reality, albeit one that does not include a headset. It also includes exercise, and games that include these two factors can seem to suspend time. This allowing trainers to relax and live in the moment, according to researchers, and this triggers the release of positive chemicals such as endorphins.

Challenges come hand in hand with Pokemon Go. Many things may cause disappointment, such as a rare wild Pokemon running away or a lost gym battle.
Resilience and perseverance are key factors in the game, and learning to accept defeat, to learn from your mistakes and try again are life skills, beneficial for the present and the future.

There are even benefits from playing Pokemon Go as a family. This gives children and parents a common interest which can present more opportunities for them to bond. This also introduces new topics for conversation, such as where to find a certain species or what to spend your coins on. Playing Pokemon Go can also teach parents more about the Pokemon franchise and they will be on the same level as their child. This means that they will no longer need to ask what certain things are, or definitions for terms and items.

In Pokemon Go, there are two main forms of currency: Stardust and Coins. Smaller subcategories are Pokemon Candies, with one for the base evolution of every Pokemon evolutionary line(For instance, Bulbasaur, Ivysaur and Venusaur give you Bulbasaur Candy. The game can teach children to save up to buy items(Coins) and evolve Pokemon(the Pokemon’s Candy and Stardust). This is a valuable life skill teaching children to save for a rainy day and not blow all their resources and struggle to recover.

Possibly the greatest benefit of all the above, while Pokemon Go may include in app purchases, the game itself is completely free!

To sum it all up, Pokemon Go:

  • Will motivate me to hike
  • Will make me want to walk around more and do exercise
  • Will expose me to more sunlight
  • Will improve my cognitive performance
  • Will improve my hand-eye coordination
  • Will educate me about certain places
  • Will make me socialize
  • Will make me more positive
  • Will strengthen my resilience
  • Could possibly bring us together
  • Will teach me how to save resources

That’s a lot of benefits!

The main reason why I want Pokemon Go is because it is the only way to gain access to Meltan, Melmetal and Alolan Pokemon in the new Let’s Go Pokemon games.

This concludes my essay. Thank you for reading!

Should We Let G1 Play Pokemon Go?

Like the Tiger Mother that I am, I was ready to say “no”. I had so many issues with that essay – no opening preamble, no citations, there were spelling mistakes, poor formatting – I could go on. DH, obviously, has lower standards than me because he gave G1 the game.

Well, okay, I did give G1 credit for effort. I confess that I didn’t think he would write it. I was also glad to see him reiterating some of the messages I have been repeating like a broken record since he was little. After all this time, they really did sink in even when it felt like I was talking to a brick wall. Sometimes, I guess it takes a while for ideas to take hold. Making him research the positives for his article probably helped reinforced them as well.

Why I Started Playing Pokemon Go

To understand the game and to determine the real benefits of the game for myself, I started playing it, too. Well, okay, the truth is that I was sold by this line:

“This gives children and parents a common interest which can present more opportunities for them to bond.”

The boy is growing up. I no longer understand him the way I used to. Sometimes – okay, most of the time – his conversations fly over the top of my head because I have no idea what he’s talking about. As he approaches the dreaded teenage years, I am conscious of the fact that I will understand him even less. Unless I start making a bigger effort to get involved with the things he enjoys.

So this is me, making an effort.

The Real Pokemon Go Benefits

Now that we’ve been playing the game together for a while, here’s what I think:

1. Hiking Motivation

G1 hates hiking. Honestly, it is hard to say who suffers more when we hike together – him because he loathes physical activity; me because I have to endure his attitude. Since he started playing Pokemon Go, G1 has initiated hiking on his own – he is the one who asks me when we’re going to hike. Normally, I’m the one who dictates that we’re going hiking. He was so excited to go hiking that he woke me up asking when we were heading out!

Christmas Holidays 2018

The photo above shows a section of the “heart-attack slope”. The last time I tried to get him to do two laps on this, he went on strike. He sat down and refused to take another step. During our recent hike, he was the one who suggested making a second loop!

He was also hiking ahead of his brother! Normally, G2 is our trail blazer. Okay, so he did have second thoughts during the second lap on the “heart-attack slope”, but he still completed it with almost no complaint. That is unheard of for G1! And, he wants to hike again! Who is this boy?

2. Getting More Exercise

G1 has been tracking more mileage on foot than I ever thought possible. The most amazing thing is that he doesn’t complain about it. He actually wants to walk! All I do is offer to walk with him to check out different Pokestops and Pokemon Gyms and he’s ready to go.

We’ve also been spending more time at the gym because he can use the kilometers to hatch eggs and collect candy. We just strap the phone to his arm while he runs on the treadmill. Win-win.

3. Cognitive Benefits

There is a study on in the journal “Computers & Education” that found Pokemon Go players significantly increased their selective attention, concentration levels, and sociability levels. That should come as no surprise since we know that physical activity benefits brain health and cognition. By virtue of the fact that Pokemon Go makes players more active, it will benefit the brain.

Playing Pokemon Go also requires players to understand the geography of the area around them when searching for new Pokemon Gyms and Pokestops. It is a little like orienteering, figuring out which direction you need to walk towards and how far. Players also need to decipher the game map and relate it to landmarks in the real world. Pokemon Go offers further cognitive benefits by developing spatial reasoning and map-reading skills.

4. Collaboration

When players reach level 5 in Pokemon Go, they have to join a team. There are three teams – Team Mystic (Blue), Team Valor (Red), or Team Instinct (Yellow). Pokemon Gyms are usually occupied by one team. If that team happens to be an opposing team, players from the same team (even people you don’t know) can join together to battle the opposing team. If they defeat the opposing team, they can take over the Gym. Players from the same team can help to defend the gym by feeding berries to the Pokemon on guard duty. These are just some of the ways that I’ve noticed how Pokemon Go encourages collaboration.

Christmas Holidays 2018

5. Bonding

Since I started playing Pokemon Go, I have spent more quality time with G1 playing a game that he enjoys. He tells me how to play the game better and I listen. It used to slide over my head but it is slowly starting to make more sense. Is it strengthening our relationship? I hope so.

While I cannot confirm the other benefits that G1 mentions in his essay, I think these are reason enough for me to allow him to keep playing the game. I was skeptical when I first read his essay. Now, I am a believer. Go Pokemon Go.

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Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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