We have been traveling all over the place this summer, mostly for cello: Montana, Chicago, Claremont, Chicago, Santa Monica, Aspen. I want to show you pictures of everything. But it would mostly look like kids playing video game in a lot of airports. Or me losing my mind.
My sons played music with kids all over the country. The older one tried to get as much alone time as he could, so we were twenty minutes early to everything:
The younger one tried to make as many friends as possible. Which meant being on their phones, together, of course.
Early on in the summer, I told myself I needed to limit their video game time. Even though I say all the time that limiting video games is misguided and stupid. I still worry. What if I’m wrong? Is it okay to be an outlier with my kids?
Then we met my friend Sharon, and her sons. We took the boys to a trampoline park, because any mom of boys knows that tired boys are manageable boys, and besides, we’d be able to talk to each other uninterrupted only while the boys did back flips.
But here’s what happened: they decided they’d rather go for walks. To play Pokemon GO. (When have boys asked parents to take them on a walk?) And they met lots of kids looking for the same Pokemon they were. They had fun, outside, meeting their goals. (The same is true of me and Sharon.)
Sharon is a stickler for video game time, but she was laissez-faire about Pokemon. And now I know why: Strictly speaking, Pokemon GO is better for kids than school. Take a look at this:
Here are the reasons people say video games are bad:
Sitting in one place is bad.
Avoiding social life is bad.
Lack of appropriate goals is bad.
Here is what happens in school:
You sit in one place for nearly all of the hours of school.
You are quiet unless the teacher gives you permission to talk.
Schoolwork goals work best at the mean, not for you.
Here’s what you get with Pokemon GO:
You have to walk around outside to play the game.
You play with people are are physically in the same place you are.
You set goals for yourself, make plans to meet the goals, and go up levels as a result of diligent work.
Sharon wouldn’t agree with me. She’s too pragmatic to let her kids play video games with no limits. Plus, her sons are black, and she thinks they don’t have nearly the leeway to operate outside the system that white kids do—especially boys.
But I’m convinced that the emergence of Pokemon Go accomplished more than doubling the value of Nintendo in one month: It forces parents to reexamine their fear that their kids will play video games all day if they don’t go to school. Because the dangers people think of when they think of video games are really the same dangers they accept when they send their kids to school.