“Gotta catch ’em all!”
Haven’t heard this phrase? Where have you been for the past month?
The Pokemon Go craze swept into Singapore about a month ago and life has never been the same for many kids (and their parents too). Many parents we have spoken to feel like salmon swimming upstream when they try to stop their children from being gripped by Pokemon Go fever. As parents ourselves, we too were grappling with this issue.
Then we saw an opinion piece by psychotherapist, Nicholas Karderas in the NY Post ‘It’s digital heroin : How screens turn kids into psychotic junkies’ . The grim picture it painted and the fact that it was shared countless times over social media sent us on a quest to do some basic research in this area. Karderas spoke about a patient of his who had lost all grip on reality because of his addiction to online gaming (Minecraft in particular) and went on to list the dangers that screen time posed to children.
While researching, we considered technology in its broadest sense to include the internet, watching TV, playing computer games and games on mobile devices.
Needless to say, we found studies that showed the negative effects that the internet, TV, online gaming, iPads and the like had on children and some of the arguments were pretty compelling but we also found quite a few that spoke of the numerous beneficial effects on teaching and learning and improving cognitive functions as a whole.
While the jury may still be out on whether there is any serious educational value in games such as Pokemon Go and Minecraft and whether the access to iPads and smartphones are advisable for children, there seems to be consensus that
1) Moderation is key
2) Some form of parental control / supervision is necessary.
If this is met by groans of “Mom / Dad you don’t understand….”, just tell them that even ‘high-tech parents’ like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates place limits on the amount of time their children spend on technology :). (Read ‘Steve Jobs was a low-tech parent’ and ‘Bill Gates keeps a close eye on kids’ computer time’)
So by all means, let your children indulge on occasion so that they can catch ’em (join them if you want) but be sure to establish clear and reasonable boundaries and enforce them.