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Family Fun Activities: Pokemon GO

Pokemon GO came out at the beginning of summer and it's been really popular ever since. I've wanted to write this post for a few weeks, but to be honest I was just too busy playing the game to sit down and write!

Some people seem to think that Pokemon GO is just another time wasting game but based on what I've experienced and witnessed, it's actually a great way to get your family out of the house and active together. Today I'm sharing a few of the reasons I think it's a great family activity.  

I'm not going to get into TOO many details on how the game works in this post, but if you want me to break it down into a "what is it and how do I play?" post, leave a comment and I'll do that next week!

1) You gotta move

In order to find the Pokemon (unless you're using some kind of "cheat" which you really shouldn't be) you have to get up and walk around and explore new places. You can't sit in your house and find lots of Pokemon, you need to go for walks.

Not only do you need to go looking for Pokemon, but you get eggs that you need to incubate, and to incubate them, you need to walk (there are 2km, 5km and 10 km eggs for example.) So, we go on evening Pokewalks and when my kids need to get outside but are just in a mood where no idea appeals to them, I'll often give them the phone and a destination to walk to and see if they can incubate an egg (this obviously depends on the age of your kid though).
 


2) You get to explore new places

Want a reason to go and look at monuments and talk about the history of a city? Play Pokemon GO with your kids because monuments, statues, murals, etc. are generally PokeStops (a PokeStop is where you go to get supplies such as Pokeballs, which you need to catch Pokemon, potions to revive and heal your Pokemon when they've been in a battle, and other cool things).  You need to go to PokeStops to keep playing the game and PokeStops can be really fun to explore.

We have walked around Confederation Park, Pembroke, Cobden, Renfrew, World Exchange Plaza and Sparks Street, and the deal is that whenever possible, we stop and see just what the PokeStop is all about.

We've seen cool statues, fountains, read the war memorial statues and explored the waterfront in Pembroke and my kids and husband went on a crazy bridge in Renfrew (I have a fear of bridges, so I stayed on land and took a photo, :)

3) Combine it with other activities

Some people have told me they think geocaching is better. I think geocaching is amazing and since my husband doesn't really enjoy Pokemon GO he has taken the opportunity to be out in new places to find the caches that are often in some of the similar places as you can find many PokeStops. We're getting to do both at the same time and the kids really enjoy both aspects of it.

Other ways you can combine it with activities is to go to farmer's markets or see if anyone is hosting a Lure Party. (A Lure Party is when a PokeStop has someone activate a lure which attracts more Pokemon. If you see a PokeStop with pink dots hovering around it, someone activated a lure so you're sure to catch more Pokemon than usual there. Sometimes business owners will activate the lures to make coming to their store or business fun for the whole family. I know some farmer's markets have done this, as well as business associations. It's a fun and smart way to combine activities - one person shops (my husband) while I catch Pokemon and let my kids help. :)

Use it as an opportunity to teach 

There are a lot of things that come up when playing Pokemon Go with your kids that are great lessons to teach.

Don't walk and play. The phone will buzz if there is a Pokemon around so know where you're going, walk with eyes ahead, and then stop and look down when needed. You hear all kinds of stories about people walking into traffic. This can happen with far more than just Pokemon GO, use it as an opportunity to talk about being safe.

Some people feel that people are trespassing to play Pokemon GO. Again, this is an opportunity to teach your kids about trespassing and privacy, and about the importance of not going places you aren't supposed to be. Playing together adds the opportunity to do this.

A few words of warning:

- Pokemon GO drains your cell battery really quickly. Make sure to have a full charge before you go out and maybe even bring a battery pack along with you.

- Pokemon GO data usage isn't horrible, but be aware and check in on how much you're using so you don't end up suddenly using your data for them month. It seems quite similar to other map apps so if you keep those on during long drives, this wouldn't be different.

- It can be addictive to the parents as well as the kids. So I hear anyways ;)

Over all, I think the Pokemon GO can be a really fun family activity and it's motivating to many people to get outside and moving. In my opinion it's a great example of how games can make life MORE social, because we have met up with friends in parks to go Pokemon hunting together. Games don't need to make you sedentary and antisocial, they can motivate you to get out of the house when it otherwise would be hard, move, and hang with friends!

Do you play Pokemon GO?