No thanks to Pokemon Go

No - I haven’t downloaded Pokemon Go (and yes, it’s highly tempting).  As a child advocate of movement, play, and more – you’d think why not?  There are swaths of examples on the internet about how kids (and adults) are getting more exercise (miles per day) and breaking through socially – connecting with others and the world around them.  These are all great outside benefits from a traditionally inside gaming activity, and I’m happy for families who are seeing such breakthroughs. 

However, I won’t be downloading the app anytime soon for my family.  Here’s why:

1) Getting Outside Is Not A Check The Box To-Do.

I don't want “getting outside” to become another to-do on my kids chore list similar to “wiping the toilet seat” or “making your bed.”  Getting outside is about re-charging, being alive, and deepening our connections with nature - not akin to remembering to take your vitamins. 

If “getting outside” for 15 minutes a day merely becomes another daily check-list item – nature becomes a lot less magical for all of us, especially our kids. 

2) Being In the Moment Takes Practice.  

Everyone’s talking about the nostalgic value of Pokemon Go.  But the memories that make me smile from my past, are not when I played Tetris for hours, but when I was so engrossed in exploration, jumping off cliffs (on purpose – not due to chasing artificial creatures), and digging for shells.  

I want to feel “Chewbacca Mom” joyful more often WITH my kids – these moments unfortunately are slipping away all too easily, and I struggle to even recall the last time I felt unburdened and wonderfully present.

If anything, I know that I need as much practice as I can get creating space for these ALIVE moments by unplugging and being as present as possible. It’s not just about me, but more importantly for my kids, so they can remember what it’s like to be in awe of the present moment – and feel compelled to create such experiences for their kids too. 

3. Technology Is Genuinely Awesome, But Does NOT Replace Meaningful Connections.

Connections in Nature

It's acceptable now to go out to lunch, coffee or a car-ride with a friend (or significant other) only to have them on their phones the entire time (yes I nod passive aggressively, I’m sure it’s something with the kids).  What’s the point of meeting up if we could have just texted? 

We are seeing a decline in empathy among kids, adults, and everyone, and it’s terrifying.  Empathy is developed by creating meaningful connections with others – getting to know them, their likes, dislikes, how they are different, similar, and learning to understand how their point of view is different than your own (and why this is important).  How do we form these sustained relationships if our interactions are reduced to snippets of conversation or where’s the next Pokemon Go stop? 

4.  Being Bored Is OK.

Nature Play

I get fidgety at stop lights – it takes great willpower to leave my phone be.  What did I do 5 years ago in traffic or waiting in line at the grocery store - how did I survive these minutes of boredom?  Over time, my brain is now trained to emulate my Facebook feed or CNN scroll – endlessly on loop.  I miss the days when I stared out the window engrossed in my own thoughts. 

Which is why after the initial panic, I find it refreshing when I forget my phone at home, and I’m pushed to be bored.  It’s calming, refreshing and surprisingly peaceful. I want my kids to experience these quiet moments too, even if they benefit from the technologies of the age they were born into. 

5)  What’s Next Is Truly Scary.

Sure – Pokemon Go can get all of us out of the house (and exercising) but what’s next?  Perhaps I’ve read too many futuristic books and envisioned people with elaborate headsets, glasses, and other funky contraptions interacting exclusively through these artificial means. 

Soon - we’re going to feel undressed without an attached device.  If it only took 5 years for us to feel this way about our phones - it’s not difficult to conceive a world like this not far off. 

This is incredibly scary – sure, people will justify that we are getting outside but are we really?  How do we delineate between outside and inside?  The benefits of nature and nature play are profound and proven for adults and kids alike – from calming/meditative influences, to deepening our respect and love for nature, others, and much more.

I am committed to doing a heck of a lot better to treasure the magic and wonder of the outdoors – which is why I don’t intend to augment my reality anytime soon.  


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