Photo credit to Niantic Labs
Pokemon™ Go came out a few days ago and took the world by storm. Adults looking back on the nostalgia of childhood years, and kids alike have fallen into the clutches of Pokemon™ Go. The game that gets people out into the world walking, visiting new places, and learning new things about their communities. Sadly it took very little time for the realities and dangers of the game to become a parent. So much so that police have already issued safety warnings.
Yes, exploring the outside world instead of sitting in front of the TV is great for your child but, it can be distracting and lead to not so great decisions. Parents need to set ground rules for this game to protect their children while playing Pokemon™ Go. Rules and boundaries will keep everyone safe and happy while they play. Download and explore the app for yourself before handing it over to your child is a great way to familiarize yourself with the gaming controls and concept.
Set limits on where your kids can go. Pokemon™ Go uses Google’s maps to build the map for the game. Neither Nintendo or Google have any idea of the dangers lurking in your neighborhood. You, on the other hand, live there and know what areas your child should not enter. Sit down with your child and be clear about boundaries.
Be sure your child understands not to enter places in search of Pokemon or items for the game. You do NOT need to enter buildings to get items from PokeStops. You do not need to enter a building to visit a gym. The key point is you NEVER need to enter any building to play Pokemon™ Go. Unless your child is with a parent or other trusted adult they should stay outside.
Pay attention to the road. When walking, riding bikes, or sadly for some even driving, people are taking their eyes off the road. You need to keep your eyes on the road or sidewalk. You can not trust that others will be watching and that prized Pokemon™ is not worth your safety or even life. You must keep the app up and active and your phone from falling asleep but you do not have to keep your eyes on it. Your device will notify you when you are near a Pokemon™. If you’re of driving age, just don’t drive and try to play. Save the gameplay for when you can be more aware and pay attention to what’s going on. There’s a warning as soon as you load the app, so a little common sense is needed.
Remember stranger danger. As parent’s we drill this into our kids. Sadly this is a new game is also a potential tool for predators. When your child is pointing their phone at some odd space it will become pretty clear what they are doing and someone could easily start up a conversation about Pokemon™ Go and use that as an opening to make your child drop their guard. Remind them regularly not to talk to strangers.
If the concept is too worrisome for you to allow your child to venture out on their own to play, turn it into a family activity! It’s a new version of geocaching, something many families enjoys doing! Use the app when exploring museums, parks, nature trails, etc as a family and take turns catching the Pokemon™.
Check out this trailer video, it really is a pretty neat app and if you already love being outdoors and exploring new places, then why not have a little more fun with it?
If you need some tips to get started, my friend Melissa has put together a great post on everything you need to know about Pokemon™ GO!