By now you’ve read and seen that Pokemon Go, a game by Niantic Labs, has become more than just a hit – it has become a global sensation. It seems as though everyone, everywhere is enjoying this game, and its popularity is surging astronomically.
The players who have the game installed on their smartphones vary widely, and you’ll see them playing all over the place. Teens, college kids, businessmen and women, and even grandparents can be found roaming around, eyes glued to their phones, playing to their heart’s content.
You’ve no doubt heard all sorts of stories about this craze. People of all ages who are making new friends, discovering new places, and having a boatload of fun while doing it. But there’s the bad stuff too: people falling off cliffs, getting hit by cars, and even victimized by muggers.
And now your kids have come to you, eyes big and watery, asking desperately if they can play.
Do you let them play, or do you dash their hopes and dreams? If you do, you wonder if there’s a way for them to play Pokemon Go safely. Absolutely! First, let’s go through a few pros and cons that the game brings.
Health. There’s no denying it – because Pokemon Go is a very active game, anyone who plays it pretty much gets healthier over time. While it won’t turn its players into bodybuilders, the very act of walking improves circulation, strengthens leg muscles, and improves breathing. Studies have shown that a healthier body leads to a healthier mind, and starting your kids out with a Pokemon-based fitness regime isn’t a bad way to achieve this.
Exploration. The game involves locating and chasing down Pokemon, which means that players can find themselves in places they’ve never been. This could be a new tourist spot, restaurant, or a different grove of trees in your neighborhood. In any case, many find that being exploratory and having wanderlust is one of the greatest pleasures we can have. Just, you know, don’t get lost.
Community. Pokemon Go has been designed to be enjoyed in groups. Not necessarily through game mechanics, but through plain old sociology. People simply enjoy the social nature of the game. Sharing their finds and enjoying each others’ company is an incredibly fulfilling experience that is perhaps the biggest draw the game brings. A sense of community is a powerful trait to teach your kids.
Awareness. It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, though. There are certainly times when players just aren’t paying attention to their surroundings, and end up paying for it. For example, some people were so deeply immersed in the game that they’ve bit hit by cars and other vehicles! And there have even been incidents of players falling off cliffs; an incredibly unfortunate accident without a doubt.
Stranger danger. Because of how social the game is, it does open up the possibility of players being harassed or even attacked by strangers. There have been cases of some players being robbed while playing. Though there’s little to fear of predators going after children playing Pokemon Go, it never hurts to prepare your kids in case it ever happens.
Privacy. There have been concerns about the game and it’s ability to keep data private. This of course comes in an age where every app and every website is thoroughly vetted for privacy controls (such as Facebook). Luckily there isn’t too much to worry about, as the developers assure that all player and user data is safe. But, like before, it never hurts to be prepared just in case.
Pokemon Go Tips
There are, without a doubt, dozens of tips out there for playing Pokemon Go safely. But we feel these are the most critical ones to keep in mind for your kids. Pokemon Go is fun, but your kids’ safety is paramount.
Teach awareness. It’s best to teach them how to only look at their screens when they get a notification, and to never walk or move while actively playing it.
Use a phone just for Pokemon Go. Having just the one device really simplifies how and when the game is played, and the phone itself doesn’t have to be expensive.
Pair them up, at the very least. For one, a crowd of kids is easier to spot. Plus, many more eyes can make sure that, as a group, they’re more aware of their surroundings.
Have someone chaperone the kids. Have an older teen or other family member help out and keep an eye on your kids while they go out and play. Plus the chaperone themselves can play, as long as they don’t accidentally lose a duckling. (Or should we say… Psyduckling?)
Allow them to play only during the daytime. Not only is it harder to see them at night, who knows what kind of creepy-crawlies come out of the woodwork.
Have them bring a backup battery. In case the phone’s battery gets super low (or dies), they can still make or receive calls without fear of it cutting out. Teach your kids the batteries aren’t to extend their Pokemon Go time – they’re for emergencies.
Make sure they stick to the sidewalks. Nothing can kill fun faster than getting lost, or getting berated by an adult stranger. Plus, respecting other people’s property is a very good lesson to teach regardless.
Ensure that they’re wearing bright clothing. Another self-explanatory tip. Bright, distinctive clothing simply lets them stick out. People spot them faster, so accidents are less likely to happen. Just don’t overdo it and give them a whole rack of safety gear, like construction vests and caution lights.
Play the game yourself! The game’s pros far outweigh its cons, and if you’re playing with your kids, it’s all for the better. You guys are getting fit, having fun, meeting people, exchanging laughs, exploring new places, staying safe, and bonding solidly. The way a modern family should. So use the game to make family time more fun and exciting for years and years to come.
And don’t forget Grandma.