According to Apple, Pokémon Go was the most downloaded app worldwide from iTunes in 2016. I am not at all surprised at this news, but I am concerned that the most downloaded app is an augmented reality (AR) app geared towards kids.
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I put Pokémon Go on my phone last summer so my son could play it. He loves it. He especially loves it when we travel to big cities because the screen will light up with Pokémon everywhere.
We were in San Francisco last year for a short trip, and he was constantly asking to play Pokémon Go – while walking down the street, in the restaurants, walking through the parks, in the airport, EVERYWHERE. He was having so much fun while playing it, but was completely uninterested in the fact that we were in beautiful San Francisco.
As we were walking around the city, our son would pay zero attention to the hordes of people walking around him or the cars that were in the street while we were crossing. I was shocked. He had turned into one of those kids that you see on the news that never looks up from the game. It quickly became apparent one of the problems with this game – it is very, very distracting and consumes your full attention.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not here to tell you to delete Pokémon Go from your phone. It is a really fun game, and gets kids outside to walk and explore. We are one of the millions of people that downloaded the game. Just keep the following tips in mind to stay safe while you or your child is playing Pokémon Go.
10 Pokémon Go Tips for Parents
Keep your head up. This is so important (and hard) when playing an augmented reality game. You want to see the altered reality on the screen, not the real reality around you. However, you must stay aware of your surroundings while playing.
Do not trespass on private property while playing the game. This has been an issue with players trying to get to special Pokémon and risking it all by going onto private property. Not a wise decision.
Do not drive or ride your bike while playing. I know this seems obvious, but kids (and adults) still do this. I would say that riding anything while playing is a bad idea – skateboards, hoverboards, scooters, etc.
Be courteous and aware of where you are playing. Not all locations are appropriate places to “catch them all” such as national memorials and museums where people are trying to reflect. Be aware of the people around you and what they are trying to do.
Don’t let kids (or really anyone) play alone. Because this game is so consuming and distracting to what is going on around you, having another person around to make sure the environment stays safe is essential (no cars around, no strangers following you, etc.).
Be aware and alert at PokeStop locations. Predators can use a lure to make a Pokestop more attractive to players which will could bring more players directly to the predator.
Not all Pokémon Go players are friends. Just because you meet a stranger at a Training Gym or Pokestop that is also playing Pokémon Go, that does not automatically make that stranger a friend. “Stranger Danger” rules still apply with other Pokémon Go players.
Give your child a budget up front of how much they can spend in the PokeStore. As you catch characters you use up your Poke Balls. Once those Poke Balls are gone you have to purchase more Poke Balls with real money or find a Pokestop to collect a few Poke Balls for free. You can also purchase other game related items in the store such as lures and other tools.
Bring a portable charger with you when playing. This game EATS UP battery power.
Sign up for a Trainer account or create an email account just for games. Signing up for Pokémon Go via your Google account gives Niantic (the game’s creator) your Google username and email address. If you prefer to keep this Google account information a secret, there is a better solution. You can set-up a Gmail account just for games like this or get a Pokémon Trainer Club account directly through Pokémon.
One Last Thought…
I would love to hear your safety tips on playing Pokémon Go!