Pokemon Go: How To Stay Safe and Have Fun With Your Kids

These days, pretty much anything can go viral – and very quickly. Recently, we had the Chewbacca Mom, and now the recent fad is Pokemon Go. And it doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon.

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If you haven’t heard of Pokemon Go, it is a location-based reality mobile game that was just released on July 6, 2016. And in such a short time, you can’t go anywhere without adults and kids alike trying to catch Pokemons wherever they go. The game allows people to battle, capture, and train virtual Pokemon who pop up everywhere in your surroundings via your phone. From what we’ve seen so far, the game can be quite addictive.  Here’s a video from the Miami Police Department about Pokemon Go:

As with anything in life, there are pros and cons. So it’s important for parents to be very aware of the benefits and potential dangers of this new trend.
Pokemon Go: The Pros
First, let’s talk about the benefits:

  • The most obvious one is that it encourages people to move their bodies around. People must actually walk and chase the Pokemons so they can catch them. In a world where kids are increasingly overweight and sedentary, it’s great that this game combines technology and exercise. And it’s even better that the kids don’t even feel like they’re exercising.
  • Next, it’s just plain fun. It brings you to different places you might not have ever explored before. Because it requires you to get outside, it also gets you out into nature instead of being cooped up in the house. And it encourages people to interact with each other and work together, which is sometimes an argument against technology.

Pokemon Go: The Cons
But as fun as the game is, there are some disadvantages as well:

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  • First, there are safety concerns. There have been reports of people getting injured because they are not paying attention to where they’re walking. Perhaps they bump into a tree, a car, or even a building. Or worst case scenario, they could cross the street without looking because they are distracted by looking at their phones.
  • Second, there is “stranger danger”. Parents spend so much time warning their kids to stay away from strangers and not get into anyone’s car. So what would happen if a child predator offers to help your child look for Pokemons? An innocent kid might not have the judgment to be capable of realizing the person could be dangerous.
  • Another concern is that the game uses up a phone’s battery pretty quickly. Let’s say your 15-year-old is wandering through the woods catching Pokemon, loses track of where he is, and doesn’t know how to get home? If his phone is out of battery, he is out of luck. And so are you because you don’t know how or where to find him.
  • Finally, some “Poke Stops” are inappropriate for children. A Poke Stop is a place where people can find Pokemons. They can be houses or businesses. In fact, some businesses say that being a Poke Stop has greatly increased their profits and brought people into their stores. However, what if a Poke Stop is a strip club? Or an adult book store? That’s an obvious concern for parents, because you don’t want them to go into any places in which they would see something they shouldn’t.

Staying Safe with Pokemon Go

But don’t worry. There are things you can do to make sure your child stays safe and has fun while playing Pokemon Go.

  • Teach your child to be constantly aware of their surroundings. If they are wandering off to far into the woods, hopefully they’ll hear your voice in their head telling them to turn around. And tell them to frequently look up from their phones to make sure there are no cars coming their directions or something they will run into. They should also be aware of any cars that might be suspiciously following them.
  • Set limits for where and how far they can go. In fact, it’s best for you to play the game with them, so you can supervise. However, if that’s not possible, at least have them go with an adult or in a group of kids so they can stick together.
  • Regarding the battery life on their phones, make sure they bring a portable charger with them. Not many people are even aware that they exist, but they do. This will make sure that they can get a hold of you any time, any place. And you don’t have to worry about not being in constant communication with them or not being able to find them if they wander off too far.

As with any fad, there are advantages and disadvantages to Pokemon Go. While it’s easy to get caught up in all the fun, it’s even more important to continually educate yourself about it so that you can keep your children safe.

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