Pokemon Go gives parents another reason to worry

My introduction to Pokemon Go came a few days ago when my oldest son tweeted a screenshot of a website where a 40-something year old man told the story of going out hunting Pokemon at 2 o’clock in the morning.

The man described the scene as a couple of 20-year-old kids on a park bench called to him. He thought he was about to be mugged or worse, but instead they told him where he could find a Charizard, or something. Then he struck up a conversation with them. Then a suspicious police officer, who saw these early morning Pokemon Go’ers in the park, came up and started questioning them. Then the police officer downloaded the game and started playing, too.

I thought it was a funny story, so I shared it with my wife. When I was done telling her about it, I said, “What self-respecting 40-something-year-old is running around out there playing Pokemon-Go? People need to get a life.”

Jean hung her head in shame and started singing her new theme song. “I will travel across the land, searching far and wide. Each Pokemon to understand, the power that’s inside. Pokemon! Gotta catch ‘em all!”

“You’re kidding me,” I said. “You’re playing Pokemon Go, too.”

It turns out that three-fifths of my family is playing Pokemon Go. The only two who are not are me and my youngest son, Robert. And 14-year-old Robert is not playing Pokemon Go because he is a cowboy, and cowboys don’t take kindly to nonsense.

I know that Robert is a cowboy because he wears cowboy boots and cowboy hats. As such, he thinks Jason Aldean is feminine, Johnny Cash is a deity, and Hank Williams Jr. is a wise philosopher. And he works on a cattle farm. Robert is a legitimate cowboy. And he doesn’t take kindly to Pokemon Go nonsense.

The others, though, have lost their minds.

The other day I was coming home from a meeting and I saw my wife and middle son, Nathan, driving off the campus of the University of North Georgia. Neither of them are enrolled in any classes there, and for a moment I thought it was odd that they’d be driving around on a school campus where neither of them are enrolled. Then I realized: “Gotta catch ’em all!”

The next day I had to run to my office for a couple of hours. I asked Nathan if he wanted to go with me, even though I knew he would not want to go.

“Sure!” he said, to my delight and surprise.

“Can we run past McDonald’s on the way? I want to get some lunch.”

McDonald’s wasn’t out of my way, so I told him we could. In the McDonald’s Drive Thru, Nate asked if we could swing past Walton EMC.
My mind whirled. First, I don’t know how Nathan has enough money to pay the power bill. I mean, it’s summer. The air conditioner is on. None of my sons know that light switches can be turned to an “off” position. The power bill is thousands and thousands of dollars. And we have Georgia Power, not Walton EMC.

Then it dawned on me: “Gotta catch ‘em all!”

“Is there a Squirttle at Walton EMC?” I asked.

“Yes,” Nathan said.

The other day, Nathan and his girlfriend Christen were at the park doing some soccer training. Jean went to pick them up and I knew Nate and Christen planned to come back home and watch a movie. It was a 15 minute round trip to pick them up and bring them back home. When Jean had been gone 30 minutes, I figured they had stopped by the grocery store. When Jean had been gone 45 minutes, I thought maybe they had to swing past Christen’s house for something.

But when I realized that Jean had been gone ninety minutes, I really started to get worried. I checked my phone to see if I’d missed a call. Had they gotten a flat tire? Had the kids fallen out at the park with heat stroke? What could be going on?

When they got back to the house two hours later, Jean confessed that they’d been walking all over the park catching Pokemon.

And as if attempting to communicate with a 20-year-old wasn’t difficult enough, Exhibits A and B are a couple of actual texts I’ve received from Harrison in the last few days.

Exhibit A: “Just caught a 310 cp Pidgeotto in Jesse’s house.”

Exhibit B: “I’m chilling with my 492 Fearow.”


If my family want to spend their time on nonsense, that’s okay with me. I never said a word against it when everyone had their faces tucked into their smart phones playing Angry Birds. In fact, I downloaded Angry Birds and played it, too. I’ve killed more pigs playing Angry Birds than the finest of hog hunters could ever hope to harvest. But when my smart phone started running out of memory, I deleted Angry Birds off my phone, and ever since I’ve had considerably more time for stuff that isn’t nonsense.

But I’ve seen the headlines, and I am worried. Pokemon Go’ers are driving into trees. Walking into traffic. Falling off cliffs.

Realizing one of our neighbors has a Ponyta in their backyard, I sat and listened the other day as Nathan and Jean had a serious debate about whether or not this particular neighbor is a gun owner and whether or not he might shoot trespassers.

This is no idle nonsense. Pokemon Go is dangerous!

This is no idle nonsense. Pokemon Go is dangerous!

It’s a real life adventure game because you can die playing it.

I have friends who joke that Pokemon Go is just Darwinism weeding out the weakest among us. But I don’t want my family to be weeded out.

I worry every time Nathan comes downstairs and asks Jean if she wants to drive him to the store to get a drink. I know what they’re doing. The store is just a mile and a half from our house, but they’ll be gone for two hours while they drive around trying to find a Jigglypuff.

To keep them safe, I’ve started driving them to the store. We’re still gone for two hours, out looking for Meowths, but at least I’m the one behind the wheel and paying attention to the traffic and trees and cliffs. And there’s no need to worry when I’m driving, because my phone doesn’t have enough memory to download the game.

Rob Peecher, who knows more about Pokemon than he ever expected to, is the author of Four Things My Wife Hates About Mornings.