How to Become a Pokemon-Go Fearmonger

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Because I am on some “mommy blogger” list,  I get pitches all the time from “freelancers” who’d like to  write for me. Most often they are from companies looking for free publicity.

Sometimes they’re trying to promote a product overtly, as in, “I would like to write an article on how to choose a crib,” signed something like, “[email protected]” But sometimes they offer a generic parenting topic they hope is interesting enough for a blogger to slap on her site, and then it’s embedded with links to whatever the company is pushing.

That’s what I assume this one is, below. But even if it’s not — even if this writer truly is a freelancer writing articles for zero money (and how does that work?), I am DISGUSTED by his/her/its knee-jerk assumption that of course a mommy blog would LOVE a piece filled with pointless, worst-first warnings about   _________ (fill in the blank).

These “service” articles grab whatever is on the mom horizon — food, summer, sunscreen, playgrounds, playdates, fhdeasddif
and now Pokemon Go — and figure out what terrible thing just might occur, even one in a million times. And this is such a common part of the parenting world — the advice about a hidden danger article — that it has become the default way we look at childhood!

We RACE to come up with some new worry someone else may not have thought of yet. We CONGRATULATE ourselves for seeing danger the others may have missed. We feel GOOD when we can point to one instance anywhere of something BAD happening and say, “See? That’s why you should never let your kids…”

So here is museum-quality example of how instant and insidious the fear industry is. Note that the letter isn’t even addressed to anyone in particular, indicating it was sent far and wide. Spread that fear! (Boldface mine.)

Hello,

My name is Amy and I am a freelance journalist working on a story about Parenting in the Digital Age. I imagine yo have heard about the latests Pokémon Go craze (or maybe have a few strangers playing it near your house). I have been following this game and I am personally worried of all of the risks children and teenagers are being exposed to by using this app. 

From planned robberies and driving accidents all the way to being lured by sexual predators, the game goes from innocent fun to harsh reality. I would love to write an article for www.freerangekids.com discussing this new phenomenon. It could be titled “Should You Let Your Kids Play Pokémon GO?” or “How To Teach Your Kids To Safely Play Pokémon GO”. Since your blog covers relevant topics, I’m hoping you’ll consider sharing a post, as this is a topic (like many others such as cyberbullying, online predators, over-sharing, sexting, etc.) that needs to be brought into the limelight….

Best wishes, Amy

Best wishes for what? Kids at home all summer under the bed? Parents distrusting their neighbors? A society obsessed by stranger-danger? No thanks.

Kids, go out and play! – L

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Parents, please remember: This is a game and when children play games they are in grave danger, all the time, from eveyrone and everything around them. That's just the "harsh reality."

Parents, please remember: This is a game and when children play games they are in grave danger, all the time, from everyone and everything around them. 

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54 Responses to How to Become a Pokemon-Go Fearmonger

  1. Juluho July 17, 2016 at 11:29 am #

    It doesn’t take much to string together a bunch of awful things and then correlate that to some shared activity. It’s actually the media’s favorite game ( I.e. 200 people crash this week and they were all chewing gum, is gum the newest health risk?!)

    What is particularly funny about Pokego is the different people losing their minds, from helicopter parents who fear for physical safety, to the granola parents who think anything digital will rot your kids brain, to the info wars types that think it’s government tracking your every move, to the very out there Christians who think it’s demonic. No joke, my gf sent me a video this morning of a pastor explaining how he excorsized (is that the right word?) a demon from a boy possessed because Pokemon.
    I guess you can say it’s a beautiful thing that all these people can find common ground lol.

  2. Mandy July 17, 2016 at 11:43 am #

    As a long-time Ingress player, I’ve been thinking for a while that I should write an episode about The Dangers!!! of AR Games for Law & Order: SVU (not because I actually think they’re dangerous, just because I want to exploit the SVU audience).

    Now I’m actively expecting them to do a hilariously bad Pokemon GO episode this season. Can’t wait.

  3. Renee Anne July 17, 2016 at 11:57 am #

    I will admit I’ve seen some stupidity with Pokemon Go….people walking along, looking at their phones, and suddenly stopping dead in front of you to catch the damn thing or walking into places without paying attention (streets, usually). I’m guilty of it myself but I at least attempt to be fully aware of my surroundings so no one else gets hurt. And some people have done some really stupid things like walked blindly into traffic and getting hit by cars or tripping on things and causing injury (sprains, broken bones, etc.). I won’t say they deserved it but, really, is it so hard to be aware of your surroundings?!

    With that said, it’s been a great way to drag my sometimes-reluctant five year old out of the house to go catch a couple in the neighborhood. In addition to that, he’s met some other kids around his age (maybe a little older) out doing the same thing. So, there’s that.

    Really, there’s an inherent risk in almost everything. People need to get over themselves.

  4. Alanna July 17, 2016 at 12:12 pm #

    I never like it when something I think my daughter has outgrown, comes back!

  5. Yocheved July 17, 2016 at 12:12 pm #

    I read an article on Medium lately that gave me pause. It was written by a Black man who works in the tech industry, and who has a lifelong love of all things Pokemon.

    He said that one night, he was out looking for monsters, and realized that he was in an upper class, predominantly white neighborhood. It just hit him that he was in danger, because he was walking back in forth in front of houses, like he was “casing” the area. (No, he never went in anyone’s back yard!)

    In today’s highly racially charged and paranoid climate, he was truly saddened to think that young black men are taking their lives in their hands – to play a silly game that white people can play without ever thinking twice about location, busy bodies, nervous nellies, or frantic 911 callers.

    That gave me serious pause, and made me think about the privilege that I and my daughter take for granted every day.

  6. Tim July 17, 2016 at 12:19 pm #

    Needs to be brought into the limelight? These topics have been sitting under a freaking spot light for years. How about we tone down the OH MY GOD KID MY KIDS ARE IN DANGER rhetoric and use rationality and common sense instead. Personally I know nothing about this Pokemon Thing except I keep getting asked it that is what i’m doing when I’m texting with my phone, but whatever floats their boat and gets em outside, go for it.

  7. MomOf8 July 17, 2016 at 12:41 pm #

    Might be a good idea for her to be familiar with the blog to which she’s pitching. Hilarious!

  8. Katie July 17, 2016 at 12:51 pm #

    Yeah I agree with Yocheved, one of the biggest dangers of this game is paranoid (usually white) neighbors calling the cops. Could be dangerous to black/Hispanic kids who live in suburbs.

    Kind of sad how much reaching this writer was doing just to get a story. It’s natural to worry but not to worry-monger :/

  9. Tracy July 17, 2016 at 1:42 pm #

    If she’s a journalist she needs to proofread her stuff!

  10. m July 17, 2016 at 2:27 pm #

    Why don’t these fearmongers actually write about the most common way for children to die?

    “Should You Let Your Kids Ride in Cars?” or

    “How To Teach Your Kids To Safely Avoid Riding in Cars.”

    Oh yeah, because people would laugh at them.

  11. Peter July 17, 2016 at 2:30 pm #

    Email is free and so bulk-mailers thrive. “Here’s a list of people who run ‘Mommy Blogs.’ It doesn’t cost me a cent to send a generic pitch to everybody on that list. If I get some work out of it–Score!”

    I laugh because it’s pretty clear that Amy hasn’t even read this site or she’d realize how ridiculous she looks.

    As for Pokemon Go, I never really got into the whole Pokemon craze to begin with. But I was amused a couple of days ago when I saw a young girl walking along and staring at her phone–I assume she was trying to catch them–with Mom in attendance making sure she didn’t walk in front of a car or anything.

    That said, I’ll admit that sometimes it gets a bit offensive. “Gotta catch ’em all.” at the Holocaust Museum? Really?

  12. Dave July 17, 2016 at 2:42 pm #

    I wouldn’t hire her for the simple reason that Amy clearly doesn’t do any research into who she sends her pitches to. Too many wanna be writers out there trying to make a living writing low-grade opportunistic drivel.

  13. bmommyx2 July 17, 2016 at 4:23 pm #

    I feel like these people have never really read your blog if they are sending you this

  14. Theresa July 17, 2016 at 4:33 pm #

    The company can kick all Pokémon out of emergency places such as the police department and the fire station and maybe the Hospital. They don’t have time to deal with Pokémon hunters. But otherwise just don’t forget the real world. And maybe add request feature for places that don’t want people coming just hunt Pokémon and so forth. After all not everyone wants to be a gym. And maybe make sure that Pokémon are only in public spots. Like the dining room and not the kitchen of a restaurant

  15. Kimberly July 17, 2016 at 5:04 pm #

    You do have to be careful. A local group is using this app to lure in kids and their families. In addition to making their location a Pokestop they are offering kids free hot lunches, access to the internet, programs on things like snakes (so demonic). Kids can borrow movies including ones made by that agent of the devil – Disney. Oh and they have uncensored books. Not only that but kids are allowed in without their parents as long as they obey the same laws and social mores that the adults do.

    Seriously one of my neighbors is pitching a fit because the Houston Food Bank is providing free lunches to hungry kids at 2 local libraries (they should go hungry if their parents can’t buy food.) He has accused the librarians of recruiting for the devil for having the library be Pokestops and having an reptile educator out for an event. Got to love the Bible Belt – actually No I hate it and wish the south would hitch up its pants so the bible belt would stay up around Dallas and Waco

    He also seems to think kids must be attached to their parents. Not because of danger to them but because their existence seems to destroy his every happiness. But kids are allowed to be on their own at the library as long as they obey the rules. Honestly I haven’t had one problem with a kid at that library in 5 years.

  16. NY Mom July 17, 2016 at 5:44 pm #

    Cheers for the Houston Public Library.
    I lived in Houston for High School and College and read books at the downtown library on Liberal Democracy and the works of Camus that changed my life and convinced me that the home of my heart was not Houston.
    A safe harbor of sanity in a chaotic world.
    We need more libraries and fewer busybodies

  17. Donald Christensen July 17, 2016 at 7:01 pm #

    Howard Hughes brought us many great things. However one of the things he helped to bring us is the awareness of OCD. Howard was obsessed with germs. He did everything that he could to make his life germ free. He had a very sanitized house. However that still wasn’t good enough. Even in his sterile sanctuary he imagined germs.

    Some people are the same with fear. They worry about worrying because they know that it’s unhealthy to worry so much!

  18. BL July 17, 2016 at 7:21 pm #

    @Momof8
    “Might be a good idea for her to be familiar with the blog to which she’s pitching.”

    But … it’s a mommy blog. What else does she need to know? (yes, that was snark)

  19. Travis July 17, 2016 at 7:48 pm #

    @Theresa, I wouldn’t recommend not allowing Pokémon Go in the hospital, as patients may want to play and it’s a good distraction from whatever is happening in their room. In fact, I say people should leave lures there, so the patients can play without too much trouble. Especially in Children’s hospitals.

    It’s ridiculous how people send Lenore things that are literally the opposite of what her page is about. But some people are just adamant to making children hermits, apparently.

    The only ‘bad’ thing that my son has gotten into is wanting to wear something red every time he goes out to play the game. Because he’s team red, and that’s obviously what you do. He’s really excited about it, too. So Instead of wasting time, I just bought him a red cap. More protection from the sun, and an easy ID if others want to know his team or if I want to look out for him.

  20. Theresa July 17, 2016 at 8:20 pm #

    It would nice for patients but people are working there and they don’t need some Pokémon hunters in their way especially in an emergency. Maybe if the Pokémon stayed outside then everyone could be happy but I doubt it will work that way.

  21. Travis July 17, 2016 at 8:29 pm #

    I think it should be fine as long as you message the hospital first and ask for permission. If they believe it would be detriment to how everything works, then of course don’t do it. But if they say it’s okay, then I still like the possibility. On the other hand, the people who should stay away from the hospital when catching pokémon are the healthy people outside.

  22. MI Dawn July 17, 2016 at 8:41 pm #

    It’s actually wonderful. A lot of evenings I see people out walking, catching Pokemon (as I am, with my adult daughter) and we all smile at each other, say hello, and keep on. Sometimes I see groups of kids all together, sometimes kids with adults. It gets me out, gets my neighbors out. It’s worth it to me!

  23. Theresa July 17, 2016 at 9:11 pm #

    Travis that’s a nice idea but that’s what tick off of police and fire fighters. People calling all the time for permission to hunt there which ties up lines when the real emergencies are trying to call. I don’t think the Hospital wants that too. These places are for important real world stuff so let leave them for that. There are plenty more places where we can play.

  24. Meg July 17, 2016 at 9:51 pm #

    I LOVE Pokemon Go, and I’m not afraid to say so!
    My 13 year old has voluntarily been been walking around, visiting neighborhood parks, and taking his brother with him!

    I have an anxiety disorder, so lots of things worry me, but this is not one of them. The kids are walking around in groups, and usually bumping into other groups! As long as you exercise common sense (not going on private property or off cliffs or to meet alone with strangers), it seems very low risk to me, and it has tons of up sides!

  25. lollipoplover July 17, 2016 at 9:58 pm #

    We just came home from the boardwalk where every 3rd teen on a phone was playing this game. My daughter has it and started to play, too. Gosh, when I was this age, I’m pretty sure I was doing far worse things than catching imaginary monsters for fun.
    One business, a candy store, had a huge sign welcoming pokego players inside their store and offered free candy to those who caught them all. Must be pedophiles!! My daughter found them, but they offered candy sticks (she hoped for chocolate) and like a snobby teen, she declined. So we bought some chocolate, suckers that we are.
    I still don’t get the paranoia with this game. Most of the bad events involved adults, not kids. Rank this dead ass last on my list of parental worries. I’ve got sunscreen to remind them to reapply!

  26. Travis July 17, 2016 at 11:16 pm #

    Theresa, oh, well, I actually meant something like an email or maybe even a facebook message, if the hospital has one. I’m not sure how many people send emergency emails, or facebook posts, but it’s sure to be less than phone calls. I only said it after seeing an actual hospital asking people to ask for permission first (I don’t recall if this was done via email or facebook) after someone actually shared this idea with them.

    @lollipoplover, yes, if I had the mind to rob someone by using the method the lures suggested, I wouldn’t end up robbing kids if they were the ones who approached. Let’s be honest, if I wanted to rob someone, I’d rob someone who had more than a dollar and fifty cents on their pocket.

  27. Cinnamon July 18, 2016 at 12:20 am #

    I like the idea of a Layman’s guide to Fearmongering, step by step description.
    1) pick current fun and latest craze
    2) find the 1 in a million+ accident/abuse/bad thing about it
    3) show your love and concern by warning all those worried, waiting-for-expert-advice-hungry parents (they can’t think for themselves poor dears, they are totally WORRIED about keeping lill’ Jan SAFE)
    4) Tailor to suit audience to (i.e. Religious audiences like scripture references, New Agers needs other references)

    Repeat from step 1) above for next new thing.

    I’ve been in education all my life, and educationalists can be counted on to be knee jerk against anything new….

    When ball point pens came on the market, *(yes I’m old) they were “bad” and kids should not use them,
    etc.. you name it.

  28. hineata July 18, 2016 at 2:37 am #

    @Travis – to my mind the wearing of red would be the only problem with your son’s Pokémon activities. Don’t y’all have gang colours up there ☺?

  29. Donna July 18, 2016 at 7:56 am #

    My daughter was playing last night while we walked to our car and she walked directly into the traffic control arm in the parking lot. I just rolled my eyes. The local university campus is already full of people wandering aimlessly looking for Pokemon without paying attention to where they are going and we are between sessions. That should be fun when all the students return in a few weeks. 32,000 young adults wandering around town bumping into people and walking into traffic to catch imaginary monsters.

    That is the only real problem with this game. People not paying attention to where they are going while playing.

  30. MichaelF July 18, 2016 at 8:19 am #

    Just loaded this on my phone yesterday to play with the kids, anything additional to keep them outside – though I have little problem with that.

    Once I login I see a pop-up “Always be aware of your surroundings…”

    What more do people expect? Oh yeah, handholding…well grow up!

  31. Stacey Gordon July 18, 2016 at 9:55 am #

    Is this any different from Geocaching?

  32. marjorie July 18, 2016 at 10:02 am #

    I love the fact that she did so little research on your site before pitching you that she sent YOU of all people a “OMG SEXUAL PREDATORS AND ROBBERIES AND CARS ARE CONSPIRING TO KILL YOUR CHILD” pitch.

    This is like when I get “exciting cooking with pork!” pitches at Tablet Magazine.

  33. EricS July 18, 2016 at 11:27 am #

    Lenore, I’m glad to hear you screen these types of bloggers/freelancers. Would be counter productive to allow the very mindset we are trying to change (back to the more reasonable and logical ways of parenting of past generations), to have a voice on your blog.

    That being said, just like with people getting distracted using their mobiles, this should be a learning experience for both parents and children. A great way of teaching your children how to be mindful of their surroundings, even when playing this game (or anything they do for that matter). The characters being hunted down aren’t going anywhere. So looking up and around more times than looking down and nowhere else, isn’t going to affect the game play. But it will help to keep players smart and safe. Everything is a mindset. It’s how we set our minds that makes the world of difference.

  34. Andrew July 18, 2016 at 11:34 am #

    “Always be aware of your surroundings” – yes, that is bound to work. No adults have blindly followed the instructions of their satnav and driven into water, or the wrong way up one-way streets, or anything like that.

    There are several reports, in different countries, of Pokémon Go players being mistaken for burglars. For example, one group shot at in the US, and another person physically assaulted in the Netherlands: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-36818384 and http://www.nltimes.nl/2016/07/18/tilburg-police-investigate-burglars-claim-of-being-a-pokemon-hunter/

  35. Erik July 18, 2016 at 1:10 pm #

    Just today as my wife, three kids, and I were all playing Pokemon Go together, a woman approached us to warn us that she just came from church and her pastor gave a sermon on how Pokemon Go was satanic and sent from those people in Japan. So many things are disturbing about thiis (including my wife is Japanese).

  36. Workshop July 18, 2016 at 3:08 pm #

    Erik, I hope you told her that at least everyone is out in the sunshine, not at all like when you played Dungeons and Dragons.

    Yes, I survived the D&D Satanic Panic of the 80’s.

  37. Theresa July 18, 2016 at 3:43 pm #

    I still rather have real animals then imaginary ones like police. I don’t think any Pokemon could be better than my real kitted. They may not have special moves like Pokémon but the moves they do have are wonderful.

  38. Papilio July 18, 2016 at 4:48 pm #

    And then there’s this request to stay out of the backyard…:
    https://twitter.com/amsterdamized/status/754705461585281024

    @Andrew: The Dutch incident was at 1am, after that family had spotted someone in their garden earlier that evening, so… I can’t really blame them for thinking something’s off…

  39. Travis July 18, 2016 at 4:50 pm #

    @hineata, Not unless you count the hordes of nerds dressed in bright primary colors trying to show some team spirit.

    @Donna, but they can also not pay attention to where they are walking by doing things like texting and using Facebook, and Twitter, and all other sorts of apps. What I’m wondering is what is it about this app that makes people want to scream in terror at the sight of people playing it.

    Really, what I’m most amazed at is how, since the game came out, no one has tried to warn me that my son is playing outside. Or otherwise tried to bring him back themselves.

    Oh, and the app is now available in Canada, so for that person with the 16-year-old that was upset, he can play now, too!

  40. Papilio July 18, 2016 at 5:33 pm #

    But to look at the bright side: how nice of Amy to provide you with some ammo :-E

    “a piece filled with pointless, worst-first warnings about _________ (fill in the blank).”
    Human reproduction, please. For the sake of evolution and the future of mankind.

  41. Warren July 18, 2016 at 5:36 pm #

    Theresa
    Is someone picking on you in this game or did they not let you play on their team? Just wondering why you are so completely negative in all your comments.

    Maybe you should play and get outside for some fresh air and a life.

  42. Theresa July 18, 2016 at 6:03 pm #

    Negative ?! Just because I think real animals are better than pretend ones doesn’t mean I don’t want those who enjoy the game not have fun. I don’t think emergency places should game places because they are doing important things there and don’t have time for the players. If the programmers want to stick a dozen Pokemon in Wal Mart then fine with me.

  43. Avin July 18, 2016 at 6:03 pm #

    If this was sent to you directly Lenore, I get the feeling that this “writer” hasn’t taken anytime to actually peruse your blog, seeing as everything she wrote goes in strict contrast to the mindset freerangekids.com sets out to support. I’m in awe of such laziness. **face palm**

  44. Warren July 18, 2016 at 6:44 pm #

    Theresa your comment on animals stuck of being a spoiled brat that wasn’t getting her way.
    You were also negative on the other story about this app. So yes you have been negative.

  45. Kenny M Felder July 18, 2016 at 7:19 pm #

    I see this as a real opportunity. This is a woman who is working in “your” space, but who is promoting irrational fear–maybe because she herself is a victim of irrational fear, or maybe because she just knows it’s a safe way to make a buck. Either way, reach out to her. Talk to her. Every such person you convince, or who even hears that there is another side, is an important step.

  46. Theresa July 18, 2016 at 7:54 pm #

    Warren having a different opinion does not make me negative it just means I see things differently than you. You don’t hear Lenore skenazy acting like others aren’t entitled to their opinions even when she thinks they are wrong. She politely gives her opinion and leaves at that.

  47. lollipoplover July 18, 2016 at 10:39 pm #

    @Papilio-

    You never know what will show up on your lawn:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLzpl42K6KY

  48. Donna July 19, 2016 at 7:39 am #

    Travis – Yes, but those other apps are not designed to be used while walking around. Some people do use them that way, but most do not.

    Pokemon Go is specifically designed to be used while moving. While advising you to be aware of your surroundings, it is a game that encourages you to stare at a screen while walking.

  49. Jen July 19, 2016 at 8:01 am #

    Off-topic alert!
    I’m less worried about Pokémon than I am about the horrendous writing and editing skills of most of the folks that write for the internet or news media.

    “I am personally worried of” — aren’t people worried about things?

    Though not technically incorrect — limelight typically connotes fame – wouldn’t spotlight be more appropriate as used above?

    I know I’m opening myself up for criticism by writing about poor writing…I’m not going to worry since I don’t claim to write professionally. Nor would I criticize people that post in comments. My issue is with people that write and publish for a living.

    While I’m on my soapbox, (and I know this construction isn’t used above) how did we start using “because” in this way — I feel this article is important because predators. Not because OF predators or because predators are everywhere.

  50. Workshop July 19, 2016 at 10:10 am #

    I learned that the first lesson of freelance writing was to understand the publication you were going to write for, usually by perusing the magazine/newspaper. Of course, that was in the heady days before the interwebs, when one had to include an SASE with your proposal to be guaranteed a reply from said publisher.

    For you young kids, that’s a “self addressed stamped envelope.” Not only did we not have an internet, we also didn’t have “free shipping.”

  51. Papilio July 19, 2016 at 6:27 pm #

    @lollipoplover: Hahaha! Purist versus hobbyist… At least they made up in the end. (Do I want to ask what’s so bad about saying ‘black guy’?)

  52. BL July 20, 2016 at 10:09 pm #

    Government officials in Bosnia have warned people not to play Pokemon Go in minefields.

    Now that sounds like a reasonable warning!

  53. Catherine July 21, 2016 at 12:33 am #

    The best thing about Pokemon Go is that it is getting my LAZY 13yo out and exploring the city!

  54. Frank July 27, 2016 at 4:39 pm #

    Seems at least one “mommy blogger” jumped right on Amy’s offer!

    http://www.all4women.co.za/812066/parenting/parenting-articles/let-kids-play-pokemon-go