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Pokémon Go: Educational or distraction?

28 July 2016

Pokémon Go is one of the most successful apps of all time. With 30 million and counting, this strand of the popular Pokémon franchise is encouraging lots of ‘poke fans’ to get outside and catch some anime creatures. All of this success has us here at ITN Mark Education thinking - is Pokémon Go educational? Or is it just a massive distraction for children and young people? We’ve put together some arguments for both cases.

Educational: It encourages social development

One of the main benefits of Pokémon Go is that it vastly encourages social development for children who may otherwise be considered shy. Although it can be played alone, Pokémon Go has a variety of social aspects to it. The game features ‘PokéStops’ - landmarks in the area that show up in the app’s map view. PokéStops regularly have Pokémon parties, which are shown to the player by showering the area with pink petals. Pokémon parties are ‘held’ by other players to attract other players to the area by giving the opportunity to catch more Pokémon. Many children like to go out in ‘Pokégroups’ and search for Pokémon together. This encourages group activity as well as having something in common with their peers. There’s also the opportunity for children to battle other players at nearby Pokémon Gyms. They can even defend the gym with their own Pokémon if they win, which encourages them to socialise, as well as some healthy competitiveness, which brings us onto the next point.

Educational: It encourages healthy competition

As Pokémon Go involves battling other Pokémon trainers, there’s lots of room for some healthy competition to take place between players. As mentioned earlier, the app features Pokémon Gyms, which are usually based near landmarks in the area. The point of Pokémon Gyms is that players battle their Pokémon against one another to gain more experience to ‘level up’. It’s also possible to join forces with other trainers to take on a Pokémon gym, which encourages teamwork.

Distraction: players can become engrossed in the game while outside

One of the main concerns for parents about Pokémon Go is that it can cause players to become engrossed in the game while they are playing it outside. The chance of this happening increases if the player is using headphones. This can prove to be a bit dangerous. In fact, one player was featured in the news for walking into a pond while searching for a Pokémon.

TOP TIP: If children in your classroom play Pokémon Go, it could be worth setting aside ten minutes one day to talk to them about staying, being aware of their surroundings and playing safely and stressing the importance of not leaving the school grounds.

Educational: It encourages players to get outside and explore

In the world of modern gaming, Pokémon Go has been praised for giving children a reason to get outside. Many children who enjoy playing video games have to be told to go outside and get some fresh air. Now that Pokémon Go has combined gaming with going outside and exploring, children want to get out into the open to ‘catch em all’.

Educational: it encourages exercise

Following on from the previous point, Pokémon Go also encourages children and young people to exercise more. While they may not be kicking a ball around, doing lots of walking to find different types of Pokémon is giving players more exercise and encouraging them to push themselves further to reach a goal.

Distraction: pupils could be secretly playing in the classroom

Even if you support Pokémon Go, it’s important to remember that it is a very addictive game so you might find that it can easily distract the children. Some schools operate a policy of not allowing mobiles and tablets into the classroom unless instructed otherwise by the teaching staff.

Verdict

Like anything, there are pros and cons to Pokémon Go. However, any app that encourages our children to get outside and explore, as well as promoting socialisation and general happiness is fine by us! Do you feel ready to take the next step in your teaching career, even among the craziness of Pokémon Go? Get in touch or send us your CV.

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