Thursday, July 14, 2016

A Real Chance to learn some Digital Literacy from a Virtual Game

Is Pokemon Go a bad game?  Pickpockets, kids wandering off, car accidents, and ending up at bad locations, etc. are all due to playing the game.  I think the issue comes back to digital citizenship and informational literacy.  There is a level of common sense that is required.  "We should keep kids from playing this," seems to be the frequently proposed resolution.  Yes, there are things that go bad, but that does not mean that we stop doing them.

Stop Fishing!

Do I play the game? Kind of.

My son (16) showed me the game and I thought it looked neat.  My other 3 (18, 6, and 8) thought it would be fun to play.  I loaded it on my wife's and my phones.  I handed the two phones to my little ones, the older ones downloaded the app themselves and we set off on a mission to collect Pokemon. During the time we went out, my kids would if they "could go get that Pokemon." Sometimes I would say yes and other times I would say no.  There are just parts of the city where we don't go, because we don't.  We came up with some rules.  Not me, they did.

  1. Don't run into stuff.  I told them that they were allowed to look at the phone, but that I was not going to stop them from running into things, but that I would laugh if they did. You could get hurt.
  2. We also had a screens off when in or crossing the street rule (self explanatory). Everybody knows that would be dangerous. 
  3. You have to be able to tell me the name of the place we are walking.  If you don't know what it is, then it might not be safe.
  4. The Marco Polo rule (a constant in our family).  If I yell Marco, you have to yell polo. I don't like getting lost.
  5. Buddy system. It is safer than being alone.
When we came up with these, my daughter (6) was the one that gave the reason for each rule (in blue above).  Because if you didn't do that, then you could get hurt, lost, or other bad things might happen.

Should you play?

I don't care.  Some people like it while others hate it.  That isn't the point of this post.

What is the point of this post?

From what I heard on the news and the criticism of the app, I feel that people just didn't understand that there are things that can happen (some good and some bad) and we need to prepare our kids for them (as parents and educators).  

Just letting you know, there will be another game that comes out that is different than this and very popular.  Nobody knows what it is, what you will need to do, or what it will be called.  The point is that we teach our kids and students how to handle the games not that they are the devil.

No Football, No Girls, No Walmart...
I'm Just Saying.

Now What?

Maybe it is the teacher in me that saw this and decided that I needed to rant and rave.  Regardless, I know that at some point my kids will not want to play pokemon with me and they will go out and do something else.  I want them to act accordingly and keep their common sense as they play their games and have fun.

Yesterday, I handed my phone to my son and told him (8) that he was the navigator.  He needed to make sure that we were going in the right direction and to let me know in enough time so we could walk around the parks, pokestops, and gyms.  He had a blast.  There were times he told me too late and I would not turn.  He had to find alternate routes.  He had to go back and forth between the phone and the real world because I could not see the phone, he had to use real markings to let me know where to go.  Then we got out and chase pokemon around the parks.  He practiced directions, navigation, and learned that he had to pan ahead because I would not make an unsafe move while driving.

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