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Hong Kong

Pokemon Go is so popular it's causing family issues

Smartphone game is creating conflict and a loss of common sense, say Caritas counselors

ucanews.com reporters, Hong Kong

ucanews.com reporters, Hong Kong

Published: August 19, 2016 07:52 AM GMT

Updated: August 19, 2016 08:27 AM GMT

Pokemon Go is so popular it's causing family issues

An adult and children play Pokemon Go at an entrance to the MTR system in Hong Kong. (ucanews.com photo)

Since Pokemon Go was released in Hong Kong last month up to seven children a day have been calling the Caritas Family Crisis Support Center (FCSC) complaining of tensions with parents over the popular mobile game.

But, because some adults are chasing Pokemon characters just as much, with one in four callers complaining that their parents are the ones hogging the game.

The game is very popular in Hong Kong because it was released during the summer vacation, when youngsters have much more free time, according to FCSC senior director Wong Chui-shan.

"They could play the game around the clock," Wong said.

The game has become an international craze since it was launched in the U.S. on July 6. In the first week, it attracted nearly 21 million users worldwide, according to data from Survey Monkey.

The players can find the pokemons, short for "pocket monsters," through GPS data on their mobile and catch them virtually. Since the game was introduced, hundreds of people can often be seen crowded in certain parks or open spaces where there is a higher chance to catch special pokemon.

"Through the hotline, our counselors listen to the kids talking about their daily habit and figure out if they have an addiction to the electronic game or not," Wong said. "Then, we will give them advice."

However, she noticed that among those kids who mentioned the game in the hotline, 25 percent of them said the problem players are their parents not themselves.

Wong thinks the conflict between parents and the kids is caused by double standards. Some parents play the game continuously but limited the time children can play, Wong said.

"Most of our service users are aged 9-10. They may not have their own smart phones," she added. "They have to use their parents' phone to play the game but the parents keep their mobile phones to themselves most of the time."

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Another registered social worker, Ronald Tsui also 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 pokemon and was hit by a football.

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

Tsui played the game himself but stopped. "The game is attractive," Tsui said. "It sets goals for you to achieve and most of the characters are so familiar to me. It brings back childhood memories," he said.

"But once you started to catch the pokemon, 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."


Some of an estimated 300 people playing Pokemon Go in Lai Chi Kok Park on Aug. 14. (ucanews.com photo)

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