Looking out my window today I noticed people running through the streets with cell phone in hand and eyes glued to the little screen. They were moving their phone up and down, back and forth, sideways and swiping all over the place. At first I wondered what in the world was going on as I watched one person step out into the street with no concern for traffic rapidly approaching along the roadway! Then I figured out what was taking place right before my very eyes – and – right outside my window. People were playing Pokémon Go!
The whole Pokémon Go phenomenon is kind of amazing to watch. The app was first released in the United States, but it didn’t take long for users in Canada to hack the system and download the game even before it was officially released in Canada. Part of me understands the phenomena of the game simply because it’s an interactive virtual game. Parents were applauding the fact that “at least our kids are outside playing instead of glued to a TV screen”! Others pointed out a “sense of community” as people were suddenly gathering in one place and interacting with one another. (But how can you interact with someone when your eyes are glued to a little screen?) However, it did not take long for injuries to start showing up as a result of the game. Sometimes the injuries were as innocent as twisted ankles from stepping off sidewalks. But then the injuries became more serious as people were hit by cars and in some cases, having car accidents while playing the game and driving.
The next wave of violence connected with Pokémon Go were actually planned attacks and assaults. People were lured to different areas where others were waiting to attack and rob the unsuspecting gamers. Now news reports are coming out of some City Hall locations banning people from playing the game inside the buildings. Apparently gamers were setting up City Hall locations as a hub for the game, but officials started seeing property damage and fights all connected with the game. So now they are locking their buildings and banning players.
Another aspect of this whole Pokémon Go fad revolves around churches and believers. In some cases churches are hosting Pokémon events encouraging people to play the game. My question is simple – How can a church and Christian believers encourage people to play a game involving the catching of “pocket monsters”, training them to cast spells and curses and eventually kill people? Contrary to popular belief, Pokémon is not a pure and innocent game. Do parents really want to teach their kids it’s okay to cast spells and curses and make people sick – or even worse – die?
I know some won’t like what I just wrote – but let me put it another way. What would you rather pursue? Something leading to joy and peace? Or something leading to sickness and death? In Proverbs 22, King Solomon encourages parents by writing, “Train up a child in the way they should go and when they are older they will not depart from it”. Training starts at a very early age and things such as morality, right and wrong, good and bad are learned early and stick with a child for life. It is true we can’t protect our kids from everything. But, in a world where fads and group thinking quickly influence what we do, there is a need now more than ever to be – as Jesus encouraged us – “as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves”. What’s influencing you and your family today?
Looking Out My Window is a regular column in the Northumberland Today newspaper located in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada.