If you’ve been on social media or watched the news at all this week, you know about the new game Pokemon Go. It’s a virtual
reality game on smart phones designed to get gamers out of the house and physically moving. By downloading the app, you use the location devices on your phone to go to local places where you can “catch” a Pokemon avatar on your phone.
Sounds harmless, well intentioned and fun.
Other than death and robberies that have occurred playing the game, there are reasons Christian parents should reconsider the game. Not just Pokemon Go, but the Pokemon video game, cards, and products.
Pokemon came out as a Nintendo video game in the 90’s. They are Japanese pocket monsters and have evolved into a television show, trading cards, books, and all kinds of interactive venues for kids. Like cartoon characters, the avatars have names, distinct characteristics, are part of a fictional universe and many have mystic powers.
For a fair description about Pokemon and perspectives to consider, the authors at Christian Apologetics and Research have a great post for complete information. Instead of explaining what the article can, I want to share my personal experiences and observations about Pokemon for you to consider, especially for young and early adolescent kids.
What Honors God?
I’ve protected my kids from certain pop culture phenomenas, especially during the early years. Before Harry Potter was big, my second grader brought it home from the library. I read the back cover about spells, witches, and wizards, and told my daughter that spells, witchcraft, and things talked about in the book “didn’t honor God.” It’s terminology I’ve used for twenty years when new things enter our lives that I screen as guardian of their souls.
I never told her or her brothers Harry Potter was evil. I never told them to tell their friends it was wrong to read the books. I just told the four under my care that it, and other things “didn’t honor God.”
This has included other books, movies, video games, and music. It has also changed as each child has gotten older, usually as a teen, when I allow them to decide certain things for themselves. There are a few non-negotiables, but as their decision making abilities develop based on scriptural principles, I want them to discern what honors God in their lives.
Sometimes these things are a gut response on my part, and other things I research first before I give them an answer. I try to be fair, but I also know at the end of the day, I’m responsible to God for what I knowing allow to enter their mind or heart.
Pokemon and Spirits
Pokemon wasn’t a real issue for my kids. I think when my boys were young, we talked about the cards once. Something about them stirred that “gut feeling” and I just said, “I don’t think this is something we need to really buy or play with.” That was that. Pokemon hasn’t crossed our paths until, in the last week, my college kids joined the fun like everyone else their age.
But I got schooled on the dangers of Pokemon from students. Ten to twelve year old kids have told me story after story about Pokemon video games, the characters, and their interactions with them. I first was alarmed at the spirit realm of Pokemon when a ten year old told me how one Pokemon talked to him and guided him. He literally used the term “spirit guide” as he told me about the powers the character had and what it told him.
Another student, in a separate conversation, told me about the voices in his head that were making him confused. He reported about things the Pokemon character was telling him to do and how he knew it was wrong. Another student opened up a book of sorcery with Pokemon characters and was excitedly telling me about the spells in the book.
These are just three of several conversations I’ve had where kids tell me about Pokemon through books, a new video game, what the game does, and dark thoughts they have with Pokemon characters. When I hear it from the mouths of babes, I listen.
Satan Isn’t Dumb
As Christian parents, the enemy wants us to think things “that don’t honor God” are not a big deal. The spirit world of avatars, characters with powers, angels of light, and demons saturate the pop culture. These entities, especially in the form of video games, have real influence on the mind and souls of children. Satan isn’t dumb. He wants access to our children, and the “harmless” factor of these games only goes so far.
I don’t share most experiences I’ve had working with kids. I would sound like a fanatic. A nut. I’m also not here to tell you what you should do in your household. But I will tell you one mom’s story.
Sue called me in a panic. Her child’s mental health and behavioral problems were escalating. Over a few years, I saw her young, sweet, child begin to talk to voices in their head. The child told me about video game characters who were real in their mind and what they told the child to do. While I reported these incidences to the student’s therapist and parents, it wasn’t until the child was in crisis that Sue reported she should have done something about the video game addiction sooner. The realization of the playful fantasy world and spirits behind them were real.
Sue has since told me her child doesn’t believe in God anymore, that they believe in ghosts and witches. I grieved with the mom as she, too, was heartbroken.
As Christian parents, each of us need to make our own decisions for our kids and what we allow in their lives, minds, and hearts. What I’ve cited above are just a few examples of things I’ve experienced as a counselor that make me take notice of things that “don’t honor God.”
The enemy is alive and active, and we have to be sober in judgment and discerning for the spiritual and emotional health of our kids.