I’ve never been a golf or hockey widow, and I’ve tried to avoid becoming obsessed with any trends to the detriment of family life or time with the kids. But something has changed this past week, and now I’m saying it out loud for the first time. “My name is Amanda, and I’m a PokéMom.”
Yup, I did it. I let my eight-year-old son download the wildly popular Pokémon GO app as soon as it took Canada by surprise on Sunday. Since then, my life has been a whirlwind of Pokéballs, Pokéstops and invisible creatures with names that seemingly contain few vowels. They’re apparently also on my foot or standing on top of my latte.
We have joined a cult of zombies who trek through cities, catching cute – or mostly uncute – basic animations in little balls (not nearly roomy enough IMHO). We knowingly share smiles and comments with fellow trainers about how rare or tricky some Pokémon are to catch.
My son might be a little on the young side for a game that seems to have a fan base in the 20 to 50 age range (and he certainly doesn’t have his own phone – so I’ve hardly seen mine for the past three evenings), so we put express rules into place before the download even started:
1. no going out without Mom or Dad,
2. give the phone back when we need it (pfft, I’m still waiting for that rule to come into effect),
3. hold onto it for dear life on bumpy sidewalks, and
4. no going near water or eating after midnight – oh wait…
It’s hard to deny your child access to a phenomenon that is taking the world by storm – quite literally the only time I have used that phrase realistically. It’s especially challenging to do with a boy who has always eschewed train sets and Lego kits in favour of making iTunes playlists, creating his own tech company, and learning basic Minecraft coding.
And Pokémon GO has something huge going for it. You’re hardly ever sat on your butt.
In the past few days, our normally walk-despising child has gone on hikes and adventures that would usually elicit cries similar to those heard echoing miles away from a torture chamber. We now go on family walks after dinner and my son is eating his meals much faster (before, it was physically impossible for him to eat any slower). He can’t wait to get out of the house and catch more Pokémon.
Our family walk doesn’t involve us sharing news about our days. Instead, my son stops every 50 feet to mutter something about a Muk or a Psyduck or has us change direction entirely to visit a gym. It’s true, the only reason we’re getting outside in the evening is because my kid is essentially playing a video game. But as a marketer, I find the experience fascinating and it’s great to feel part of something that’s making people happy – lord knows we all need some of that right now.
As we followed a group of about 15 people towards a Pokéstop, a friend who joined us on our walk last night said, “I just can’t wait for when the Big Brother that created this game flicks a switch and we all instantly become their slaves…”
I think that’s already happened. But I’m interested to see where it goes, how it will evolve, and how people will learn to use this tool to benefit themselves and others.
For those of you who hate this turn of events, and have been bumped into by countless Pokémon trainers, don’t forget that we live in Vancouver and the rainy season never really goes away.
I’d have included more photos with this post, but sadly I don’t seem to have a phone anymore…