5 Pokémon Go Tips for Moms

Last week I got a phone call from a longtime girlfriend as she worried outloud that aliens had taken over her kids. Her oldest child is 19 and she has twin 15-year-olds. Her kids have not exercised voluntarily outside of the sports events this much in a lifetime. “I knew something was wrong when by 1 o’clock on a Saturday my three teenager had eagerly walked the dog 4 times. By that night the sudden uptick in exercise seriously threatened the dog’s survival. The next morning they pumped up the tires on their dusty, unused bikes to ride around the community before we went to church.” This pushed her concern to a new level. After church she googled “Why are my children acting so strangely?” ANSWER: Pokémon-Go

As a mother, the benefits of Pokémon GO have been enormous throughout the community. For starters, in the last 2 weeks my kids have discovered more historical sites, churches and trails on the bike path than I’ve been able to attract them to in a lifetime. In addition to the exercise, the competition and attraction to this game have untapped resources as a mom.

Mom’s benefits of Pokémon GO

Enough said.

Most games attract my kids with the fantasy of a parallel universe, or science-fiction of super heroes, or a combat-zone that DOES NOT attract me. I’ve tried joining their alternative worlds, but I just can’t get into it. Pokémon was not this. I downloaded the game onto my phone and began bumbling my way to a competitive level. I did it! Easily. And it was fun.

We live in a world where it’s not necessary to speak to your neighbors. Our family lives in South Dakota where the unspoken rule mandates to be kind at all cost. We make MINNESOTA NICE look shameful. Yet I haven’t said hi to my neighbor in at least a year. As we were both out playing Pokémon… we both spoke to one another in an authentically joyful tone. YES- REALLY!

This happens again to a total stranger while downtown, chasing and collecting Pokémon. The whole community seems to connect through this adventure.

Pokémon GO builds its game upon the foundation of Google Maps. It uses the historical sites and community gathering places as areas to collect PokéBalls – otherwise known as PokéStops. I have driven past that historical sign near our house twice daily for the better part of a decade. Never did I want to stop and read it . . . until now. Its a great quick place to get PokéBalls when I have run out of them. Maybe my kids won’t really read the signs as they spin their PokéStop-spinner-thingy and gather PokéBalls. . . . but they certainly weren’t going to read those historical signs by following my example before this game came along.

As our family advanced through the first several levels of Pokémon GO, the tasks were attainable. I easily captured the little goblin-like creatures and collecting PokéBalls, and leveling up. One aspect of the game only allows you to advance by registering distance traveled in order to “hatch an egg.” But… I still had a job, a life to do. In hopes to hatch my eggs, I took my phone with me wherever I went . . .to the bathroom, down the hall, down the street to the mailbox. I even walked, instead of drove, to buy a cup of coffee. However, I could not keep up with my kids and their level of kilometers traveled in a day. Together the kids and I collaborated on a way to solve this problem: Hatching eggs.

How could we trick the GPS system into thinking we were moving so that we could hatch our eggs?

Learn how a GPS reads my phone. A great TED-Ed video later, we all understood that the GPS would show our position from the satellite and even the slightest movement gave credit within our game.

Understand the algorithm within the Pokémon-Go game. Several links taught us that the team at Pokémon-Go cared about safety. The did not want people driving a car and playing the game. If your rate of speed was in the range of approximately 10 miles per hour, the game assumed you were in a car. If traveling in a car, the distance covered would not count towards that needed to hatch an egg. In other words, the speed of greater than 10 miles per hour would make our eggs unhatchable. That pace would abort the hatching-egg part of the Pokémon-Go game. [I’m very supportive of this rule. No driving or biking while playing … because I am a mom.]

All ideas welcome. Everyone of us needed to think of a creative answer to this questions: What would show the GPS enough movement to trigger the hatching phase, but not too much movement that it would abort? OUR BEST ANSWER: a box fan.

A ceiling fan would have been great – but we did not have one of those. But we didn’t have one of those either. We did have this old fan in the basement. We dusted off the fan placed our phone in an envelope and duct-taped the envelope and phone to one of the blades of the fan. We turned on the fan. Would the fan register enough movement to record the change with the GPS, yet not spin so fast that the rate of speed would abort the hatching of eggs?

Let’s calculate the speed our phone was “traveling.” With a different phone, we recorded the rotating phone on SLO-MO. This allowed us to carefully count the rotations of the blade in a five second period… ANSWER: 13.5 rotations per five seconds. Multiply x 12 to get the rotations per minute. Measure the radius of our fan. Calculate the circumference of the path traced by the duct-taped-phone. Answer = distance traveled per minute. Now convert that to miles per hour. For you moms and kids, here is the link to the math my sons did to get this answer.

Sure enough – six minutes on the phone and my egg hatched.

Connecting to our kids in 2016 can be a challenge. It turns out, one way to be the coolest mom on the block and be authentically involved in what our kids are doing just might be Pokémon Go + duct tape + a box fan… Enjoy

Share YOUR learned tricks from Pokémon Go in the comments below.

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