Saturday, July 16, 2016

Pokemon Go app connecting people

Yes, it is a thing...

Today I learned what all the craze was about when my son asked me to please go for a neighborhood walk with him to collect his pokemon and see what was nearby.  
Reluctant and lounging on the sofa after a long day, his frowning face and my own guilt got the best of me. So if nothing else, I would be getting some exercise if I got up and out of the house. 

It wasn't long before we saw several others walking in our direction and soon everyone on their phones walking in circles and meeting and greeting one another as everyone was catching their pokemon to add to their index and battling in gym locations too. (Pokemon also has it's own lingo.)

Who knew?  So asked my son to show me how to download the app and before I knew it I was learning what the insanity was that surrounded us.  

My twelve year old son is the fourth child in a line up of five. He has Selective Mutism and isn't much for small talk and only talks to family and close friends.  He has anxiety and fears speaking in social situations.  So, I jump at the chance to get him talking and when it's something he is excited about, I feel like I should get on board with him and share an interest. This time it really paid off. 

The game is extremely engaging and yes, I can see how accidents can happen but we were cautious and remained aware of our surroundings at all times.  We walked in the dark all around the golf course and surrounding neighborhoods within the confines of the gated community where we reside. 

With Each Location, we walked up on several of our neighbors who were all also completely immersed in the virtual world. We came across several  couples, parents and kids all smiling, laughing, interacting and walking.  I thought the challenge proved it was one of unity for sure. Now I can finally understand the nationwide phenomenon that has people running, walking and tracking down virtual animals with crazy names.  

The summer months are hot and there isn't much to do for the kids where we live so we have struggled with the battle of indoor video games and snacking, lack of exercise which leads to weight gain and lethargy, worst of all irritability and low self esteem.  
We have done some summer camps and family trips but this fun, silly app has given me a new connection to my son and his gaming world.  It's sometimes very difficult to connect with a pre-teen, even harder to engage with one who lives in fantasy worlds online.  

Once I got the hang of it and found myself getting excited for my finds and gathering pokeballs, coins and points and even my first Pikachu. Within an hour and a half I found myself on level four and quite giddy. My son and I walked on and greeted our fellow Pokemon seekers. They even shared where to find a gym battle and Pikachu at a nearby park.

On the way back home after getting my first big lesson, we created a nice Poke' fist bump for our own acknowledgement of great finds and most of all we shared a moment that I know my son will remember for years to come.
He said he never imagined his mom would play along with him but he was grateful that I did.  As was I.

With all of the tragedy going on in the world right now, this was a small disconnect from the news and the fear that plagues our society and a win for the brief moment of connection with a mother and her son through a game app creation that no one knew would take off the way it has.

I decided to jump in and try it rather than just listen to judgement and commentary from others, neigh sayers and newscast.  I am so glad that I did. I hope others are too... get your sneakers on and get to walking, you have some pokemon to catch!
Thanks Pokemon Go~