Might “Pokémon Go” ultimately convince kids and teens to fall in love with getting outside? In a homeschool group I frequent based on the teachings of Charlotte Mason, who prioritized nature study as a major part of her curriculum, mothers and kids (who normally eschew screen time) are surprising themselves by enjoying the game. More than a few, however, noticed their children paid little to no attention to the world around them while playing.
One avid bird-watcher even missed seeing an eagle his two-year-old sister was enthralled by. Even among a group of mothers whose children spend more time outside than most, the prevailing feeling was that while “Pokémon Go” was a fun way to spend an afternoon outside, it’s not a long-term strategy to maintain a relationship with the outdoors. A video game that provides an alternate reality is ultimately just a gimmick; a Band-Aid on a problem that a few weekends chasing Pokémon won’t cure.
The anecdotal tales of these fellow nature-loving mothers are buttressed by stories emerging this week of players being injured or robbed while playing. Not surprisingly, it can be dangerous to be engrossed in an alternate reality while still meandering around the real world.
Anyone familiar with church attendance and millennials knows a few things about gimmicks like this. For Acculturated last month, Julia Dent highlighted several ridiculous ways some Christian organizations and churches tried to lure millennials into the pews. From Emoji Bible to “Message Bible,” which dumbs down Scripture into millennial-speak, many modern churches are striking out at reaching a new generation of worshipers. Their failure can be attributed to an attempt to sex up something that offers its own intrinsic and transcendent claims.