Most adults first heard about Pokémon from news reports in December 1998. It is the TV cartoon targeting young children that was pulled from the air in Japan when at least 700 children were hospitalized with seizures their parents attributed to the flashing lights featured on the show.
Since then, it has come to America and other countries in video games, toys, a clothing line, TV shows and lucrative trading cards, becoming a $7 billion international phenomenon.
Now, the newly released Pokémon: The First Movie (the name Pokémon is reportedly short for “pocket monsters”) promises to boost its profits even higher this Christmas.
On Nov. 9, St. Paul's daily Pioneer Press printed these “Pokémon tips for parents":
• Children who are prone to obsessive behavior, are easily pulled into new fads, or are exceedingly anxious to please peers are most at risk for negative influences from Pokémon.
• Children who spend a lot of time in their Pokémon world, especially the Game Boy, may seem confused and disoriented as they try to transition back to the real world.
• Some parents accept Pokémon because its violence is less graphic than other computer/video violence. But researchers say it still sets young children up to be more accepting of the next level of violence, whenever and wherever it comes along.
• Help your child learn to be a better consumer by talking about the marketing behind Pokémon. To get some idea of how extensive it is, check out the Pokémon Web site, www.pokemon.com .
• Limit the Pokémon paraphernalia your child has and how much you buy for him. When parents purchase it, it feels to a child that it has your endorsement. When he has a lot of items, it's easier for him to immerse himself in the Pokémon world. If he wants Pokémon for Christmas, don't buy more than one item. If you only give one gift, don't make it Pokémon.
• A child whose family can't afford to keep pace with the Pokémon buying frenzy may be picked on by peers and feel sorry for himself. Empower him by taking the focus off affordability and talk instead about the values Pokémon represents: “In our family, we don't believe in violence, even a little bit.”