CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Problem parents and Pokémon Go

HONG KONG (UCAN): Since Pokémon Go was released in Hong Kong last month, up to seven children a day have been calling the Caritas Family Crisis Support Centre complaining of tensions with parents over the popular mobile game.

It appears that some adults are chasing Pokémon characters with an enthusiasm at least equal to their children’s, as one in four callers are complaining that their parents are hogging the game.

The senior director of the support centre, Wong Chui-shan, says that game is highly popular in the territory, partly because it was released during the summer vacation when youngsters have much more free time than usual.

“They could play the game around the clock,” Wong said.

Pokémon Go has become an international craze since it was launched in the United States of America on July 6. Data provided by Survey Monkey shows that in the first week, it attracted nearly 21 million users worldwide.

Players can find pocket monsters by using GPS data on their mobile phones and then make a virtual catch. Since the game was introduced, hundreds of people have been seen crowded into specific parks or open spaces where there is a higher chance of catching special pocket monsters.

“Through the hotline, our counsellors listen to the young people talking about their daily habit and figure out if they have an addiction to the electronic game or not,” Wong explained. “Then, we will give them advice.”

However, she noticed that among the young people who mentioned the game to the hotline service, 25 per cent of them said the problem players are their parents not themselves.

Wong thinks that double standards are the basic cause of the conflict between parents and their children, as some parents play the game continuously, but limit their time children can play.

“Most of our service users are aged between nine and 10. They may not have their own smartphones. They have to use their parents’ phone to play the game, but the parents keep their mobile phones to themselves most of the time,” Wong explained.

Another registered social worker, Ronald Tsui, observed some players seem to lose their common sense, citing a local news story about a woman who rushed onto a football field to catch a Pokémon and was hit by a flying football.

“It is difficult to estimate how serious the addiction to this game is in society,” Tsui, a 25-year-old who works at another welfare centre, said. “But it is obvious that some people have lost their common sense.”

Tsui said that he used to play the game himself, but stopped. “The game is attractive,” he confessed. “It sets goals for you to achieve and most of the characters are so familiar to me. It brings back childhood memories,” he reminisced.

“But once you start to catch the Pokémon, you want to catch as many as you can. You will keep looking at your mobile phone to see where they are and if you can catch them or not.”

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