Pokémon Go: What parents need to know

Have your normally homebound children been begging you to go to the park or are glued to their phones even more than normal. It sounds like they’ve got Pokémon Go fever.

Remember the Pokémon mania that swept the world in the late 1990s. Well, Pokémon Go is the modern day equivalent that is pulling in both children and adults alike. Got to catch them all!

What is Pokémon Go?

Pokémon Go is an augmented reality game that meshes the game and real world interaction using your phone’s GPS, clock, and camera to capture Pokémon. The app detects your current location and makes Pokémon “appear” around you encouraging you to move and explores as you try to capture them. Depending on where and when you’re playing the game, different levels of Pokémon will appear adding an additional element of challenge. For example, you can find water Pokémon’s near fountains, rivers,
and lakes. Late at night is when you’re going to find the nocturnal Pokémons.

While Pokémon Go can be a fun game that is bringing people together and encouraging them to exercise and examine the world around them, it also has some potential dangers that parents need to know if they want to keep their children safe.

What parents need to know

Addictive nature

What makes the game so fun, never knowing where/when a Pokémon will appear or what level you’re going to get, also makes the game incredibly addictive. It can become easy to want to play the game all the time and forgo work obligations, sleep, and prior engagements in the quest of catching Pokémon.

To keep your children from becoming addicted, use the skills of Preventive Teaching and Decision Making (SODAS Method) to establish guidelines for your children as to when they can play, how far they are allowed to go, and how long they are allowed to play each day.

In-app purchases

While the app is free to download, it does offer in-app purchases. These in-app purchases give players better ability to find, capture, and train their Pokémon. Without some sort of spending limit, it could become easy for children to rack up a hefty bill as they strive to capture more rare Pokémons.

Use the skill of Correcting Behaviors if your children made in-app purchases that they don’t have permission to make.

Safety concern

Just because there’s a warning about safety at the beginning of the app, doesn’t mean that everybody follows it. Some of the safety concerns parents need to worry about are.

Playing while driving

Teenagers aren’t known for always being the best drivers. Add in playing while driving and you have a recipe for disaster. Many players have confessed to playing while driving and getting into accidents. Pokémon Go does has a built in safety feature that monitors speed and won’t allow you to capture a Pokémon if you’re over 20 MPH, but accidents and injuries can still occur under 20 MPH.

Injuries

The unintended side effect of the games is that many players, whether on a bike, car, or walking, are not paying attention to what is going on around them and have injured themselves or others. Reports of sprained or broken ankles, sunburns, pulled muscles, have surfaces as players have fallen from bikes and skateboard, walked into ditches or potholes, or stepped out in front of cars.

READ: Pokemon Go’s unexpected side effect: Injuries

Personal safety

Sometimes following a Pokémon means going into areas or places that aren’t safe. People have reported hopping safety fences, walking into stranger’s yards, trespassing, going into abandoned buildings, and walking down dark alleys as the follow a Pokémon. This could be a major safety issues for children as they are putting themselves in situations that could cause them harm.

READ: Pokemon Go craze sweeps nation: Players find monsters—and injuries, robberies and worse

Predator fears

In the game, a player can create a Pokestop that encourages people to come to certain locations. A group of teenagers in Missouri used this feature to draw players to a remote location before robbing them. Because, this game tracks in real-life, many experts are worried about predators using it to lure victims. A mother conducted an experiment where she dropped a lure and waited to see how many children showed up to the house. Within minutes, multiple individual children had arrived at the Pokestop.

Read more: Is this the world’s most dangerous game?

Update: The ability to add Pokestops has been disabled.

Location and data tracking

The app tracks and shares in real time your location, which also means it shows where you aren’t. Many experts are worried that would be thieves could use this information to break into your home. This data could also be sold to third parties.

Amy

Amy loves all things England, ice cream and lemons. She's a foster mom to three wonderful kids. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling the world, seeing plays, cooking, and soaking up sunshine.

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