What makes Pokémon Go so appealing to kids?
If you’re like many parents, a crazy little game called Pokémon Go is draining your mobile phone’s battery and adding data overage to your monthly plan. But your child’s latest obsession is not all for naught. Have a look at what makes this game fun and has the kids coming back for more. You can use these insights to help make learning fun and rewarding for your child.
Thrill of the hunt: We can think of one upside to Pokémon. It’s easier than ever to hustle them out the house for an outing. Even a boring errand is an opportunity to check out a new PokéStop. This desire to hunt and search informs us on how the human mind likes to search for patterns and find new connections. The more we know about the world around us, the more we see and the more interesting it becomes. During these outings, it’s a great opportunity to build on this and talk about local landmarks and natural features.
Gotta catch ‘em all: The drive here is to collect, gathering up plenty of monsters so you can hold your own in a Pokéball battle. As this piece in Forbes points out, the drive to collect sets off the reward centers in our brains. The greatest benefit to having an outstanding collection of rare Pokémon monsters is gaining status with your peers and standing out. So when it comes to learning, any opportunity to stand out among our peers rewards us and gives a fresh push of motivation to keep achieving. So when your child is engaged with a subject area, provide plenty of encouragement, support and opportunity.
Random rewards: You’ve probably seen your child’s long, agonizing, consuming hunt for a rare monster that will push them ahead in the game. It’s agonizing, but something is pushing them to keep looking. Even when it is captured, a search for a different creature begins. How do those video game makers do it? It goes back to the 1950s, when B.F. Skinner uncovered some interesting behavior in lab rats. He discovered that when treats were produced randomly at the press of the lever, the rats would press the lever compulsively, more so than rats who always found a treat.
Having this insight about rewards can be helpful when your child wants to give up on a challenging project. The path to success with those sweet flow of endorphins may be hidden. Meanwhile, the rare Pokémon sighting takes doggedness, but to them, the reward is attainable. Get them over the hump with encouragement and positive reinforcement for trying. Hopefully, a breakthrough in that tough project will give them a fresh burst of motivation.
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