Introverted children come out of their shells with Pokemon

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 August, 2016, 5:04pm
UPDATED : Monday, 08 August, 2016, 10:27pm

This summer, Hong Kong has been swamped with Pokemon Go mania.

Everywhere you go, you see people of all ages walking and holding up their phones trying to catch a myriad of monsters with various powers, then train them to battle in the numerous “gyms” located all over Hong Kong.

The risks some people face when playing the game have been well documented, including a young man, who had been playing the game, falling into Lam Tsuen River, near Tai Po, while trying to retrieve his smartphone.

These mishaps do not seem to deter a huge number of Pokemon Go enthusiasts, mostly young people, who you see strolling around day and night with their phones.

Despite the possible hazards, there seem to be some positive results of the game. A friend who works in a youth centre has been encouraged to see some of the “hermit teens” get out of their cosy cocoons in their rooms at home and visit the centre, which has been designated [by the game] as a bat cave.

Some of them have come with their parents trying to catch the bats on their smartphones.

One of my students told me how the game has brought her closer to her dad. One evening, the two of them took their first ever walk together after dinner, catching Pokemon in the park and talking about school and other things while waiting for the monsters to appear.

My nephew, a secondary school teacher of liberal studies, commends the game for encouraging interaction and communication, even enhancing multicultural assimilation. While hunting for monsters in a park near his home, he ran into a few South Asian teenagers and exchanged tips on catching and training these virtual creatures.

However, as with all other games, Pokemon Go can be addictive and distracting, and many of our kids can easily become lost in the virtual world of monsters.

Though they get to walk around the community, they are there to catch some simulated brutes rather than come to grips with the characteristics and needs of the people around them.

Given its overwhelming popularity, the Pokemon Go mania may go on for a while, and it may seem difficult for parents to stop their children playing it.

Parents may do better by demonstrating discipline in playing the game rather than banning it altogether, and they should take advantage of the time together with their kids when they are out catching and training these surreal beings.

Clive Chan, headmaster, E-Smart Learning Centre