Maps, Apps and Pokémon Go

Cath Prisk
Tuesday, July 26, 2016

I was having a cup of coffee with an old friend, and had asked her whether she'd heard of Pokémon Go. Of course she had.
"He asked to go to the park without being prompted for the first time!!"
So what do we think about it?
Is it yet another tech distraction shoving noses ever closer to our screens? Or a fantastic lure to the outdoors, a sneaky way to disrupt the dominant culture and make the outdoors cool?
Over the years, many of us have been fighting the good 'get outdoors' fight for children through Playday, Street Play, and Forest School. Council's produce resources like Hackney Wild Walks. The National Trust, RSPB and many others supported Project Wild Thing. DEFRA and Natural England just completed their historic Natural Connections report, showing categorically that learning outdoors, being outdoors is great for children, with clear recommendations for including outdoor learning in the school day.
There are lots of apps out there that give children and adults inspiration to go outside - Peppa Pig has one, Woodland Trust, the National Trust's ,50 things,, Mission Explore and the new Wild Explorers app powered by The Wild Network. Do they work? What about physical maps, books and leaflets?
Right now it seems nothing we've seen in the last few years gets kids simply excited about getting outdoors like Pokémon Go...
Is it the gaming? Or is it the 'permission' the game implicitly gives children?
Over the next few weeks, building on some of the Dangerous Play research I've been pulling together, I'll be looking into these levers to hoist today's couch potato generation into the great outdoors. Whether you hate it or love it, technology is here to stay. Can it help get our children back outdoors? Or is it just another distraction from nature?

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