July 19, 2016 3 min read

Pokemon Go can technology and nature go hand in hand

I would love to hate it, but I just can’t.

Am I the only one confused about Pokémon Go these days?

On one hand it’ll obviously increase our kids’ “screen time” (hate), but on the other hand it does take them outside in nature (love).

Is this the new order of the day, outside play can only be experienced through technology?
And is nature and technology in general mutually exclusive?

My gut tells me one thing and the obvious evidence of young people spending time outside tells me another. Surely there’s an impact, and more to this?

Kids outside learning and growing

Like many parents, I’d like to support my children’s development, grow their brains (unfortunately, don’t think Baby Mozart will cut it forever) entice their senses, give them adventure and excitement as they grow.

The brain grows when it is stretched in many dimensions; you don’t need a PhD to know that, most parents have experienced this first hand.

We’ve also experienced how our children can get more angry and annoyed after a few (blissful...shame on me!) hours on the iPad. The screen time simply stops certain parts of the brain and even puts it in a state of stress, I’ve since learned.

Whether you’re outside or inside playing virtual reality games is irrelevant, the brain is functioning in the exact same way, the only difference being they now need to put on shoes and a jacket.

For your child that means stopping the brain growth in areas such as critical thinking, problem solving, empathy and attention.

We talk about the five senses, but in reality we have around 9-10 senses. Developing and using them all makes us function as people. By getting consumed in smart phones we block out many of these senses. We block our own development.

Playing outside kids make up their own games, there’s no restrictions, the brain has to be imaginative and make it all up. All senses are being used. That’s the brain development bit. That’s where our children fully develop.

Kids outside enjoying nature

But fair is fair, the Pokémon Go does take them outside. And while searching for an imaginative creature, they may actually look up from the screen and experience real-life reptiles, insects, listen to birds and smell the plants.

When they run outside looking for Bulbasaur they are actually getting exercise and adventure.

They grow up communicating with their peers through a screen, but with Pokémon Go that is changing. Kids are meeting other kids, outside, and they pick up conversations with each other. Real life interaction.

….We’re ticking a lot of good boxes already.

I think we can all agree that full immersion into technology and devises is probably not the best thing for our kids. But we have to balance it. Technology and nature don’t need to be mutually exclusive (binoculars for instance is a technology that helps you explore nature).

Opening the odd (...) gossip magazine I read about glorious off-the-grid cabins that many technology leaders have.  They for one, know the dangers of being fully immersed in technology. To keep staying creative and solve problems the brain needs space in nature. And Pokémon Go will not give that space.

So there we are, back to nature, but with a splash of technology.  

I can’t hate a technology that actually has a solid list of positive healthy side effects.  It’s just not perfect, by any means, and so we have to add the unrestricted nature touch ourselves as parents.

Righto, I’ll go and build a fort now….

Building a fort is fun and also great for little developing minds