It’s no surprised to anyone who plays Pokémon Go that the game is brutal on battery life. Lots of apps that are GPS intensive are like this – Apple’s own map program, Google Maps, running and walking tracking programs, etc. all suffer this fate. It’s the nature of the beast – and it’s something that programmers wrestle with, trying to fine-tune their code in order to have as little impact as possible on as users battery life as possible.
But battery life is a great conversation to have with students and kids – one of two. Phones are, after all, a primary means of communication – being able to call parents, or being able to be called, is a key capability. Running a phone down to zero, because a child (*cough* *cough* or adult) is so caught up in playing the game, came leave them without the ability to make or receive calls when they need it.
You laugh. But kids – and adults – are like this.
So, have this conversation when you’re playing. “Hey, how are you on battery life?” And when the answer starts getting below, say, 50%, start asking them when they think they need to stop playing in order to have enough battery in order for their phone to function as a phone for the remainder of the time.
This is modeling responsible behavior. This is the kind of thing we as educators do all the time. There’s no chance that, as the responsible teacher on a field trip, we could ever let our phone get to the point where we did not have enough battery left to make or receive phone calls. The safety of those in our charge would be at risk.
This can also lead to some great conversation about not-in-game purchases. A spare battery today is a solid investment. (link) Modeling preparedness – for daily life, but also emergency preparedness, is a good thing to do, but talking about how and when to invest actual money can be a great conversation to have with kids and students – something to send them off to discuss with their parents.
The other starter conversation is about data. Pokémon Go, like the Ingress game so much of it is built on, is very data driven. It’s easy to use a lot of a data plan playing this game. If players have an unlimited data plan, this isn’t an issue. If players – kids – are on a data plan and have no idea what it means to monitor and manage their data, this could get ugly.
One does not play Pokémon Go on wifi. Falling in love with and playing a lot of Pokémon Go means using data. That’s a reality.
This guy here on the right, while we were in this awesome park with two pokestops that both had lures on them, in an area swarming with Pokémon, announced, “Well, I’m out of data…” He was done with internet access for the next six days, and was going to be on wifi and able to only make calls. Playing Pokémon Go had totally changed how he used his data plan. He said he’d be looking at changing his data plan; he needed to think this through.
There are apps available for iOS and Android – free ones, too – that let users monitor that data usage. For folks on a group or family plan, like my family is, it will show the usage for the whole of the account. That’s a great conversation to have – our actions are connected.
Pokémon Go is a great and fun game. Go play. Have fun. But use it as an opportunity to model good, responsible behavior with kids, and use it as an opportunity to have solid, sound conversations with kinds about the right, related topics, too. As John Freser said, “Mobile learning is not learning on a mobile device.” We’re doing it every day, everywhere. Be adaptive and teach and learn with our kids as we do this stuff, with them.