I don’t know about you but my house is all the buzz with talk of Pokemon Go. And yes, I will admit that I have taken an extra trip around the town we live in so my boys and their friends can catch a few extra Pokemon.
There is a lot of talk right now about whether or not Pokemon Go is safe. After spending some time chatting with my boys, other parents, and pondering this whole new video game craze, here are a few conclusions I have come up with. A dos and don’ts of Pokemon Go you might say.
Play It With Them
My biggest piece of advice for any parent that might be getting caught up in all the talk about Pokemon Go and wondering if it is safe for their kids is to get outside and play it with them. The fear comes from not understanding the game (and social media of course).
Take some time to download the game yourself and ask your kids to show you how it works. The other night my husband and I took our boys on a road trip around our community and surrounding areas and had a grand ole time. I say embrace it and look at this as an opportunity to spend a little much needed family time together.
But more importantly, I believe that we can use this new type of video game (one that actually gets our kiddos out from behind their TV or computer and out into the big outdoors) to our advantage. Use this as an opportunity to talk to your kids about…
- the importance of not talking to strangers
- the proper etiquette when it comes to neighborhoods (like don’t walk through other people’s yards without permission even if their is a Pokemon on the loose)
- how to determine if a place is off limits for playing games on their smartphones (like walking through the Holocaust Museum looking for Pokemon. I am dead serious. Check it out here.)
Take the Opportunity to Explore Landmarks in Your Community Together
PokeStops are places that you can go to collect things to play the game. The creators of Pokemon Go have included all the coolest places in your area, accompanied with photos, as PokeStops. This is a great way to get out and about with your kiddos and explore your community.
Heading on a family vacation this summer. Throw in a little extra exploration time for Pokemon Go and I can guarantee that your children will be more excited about the long road trip.
Make Sure They Buddy Up
It is important that our kids all have a buddy if they are playing Pokemon Go outside without an adult. It is easy to be tempted to wander off looking for the next Pokemon or to just go a little bit farther outside of the normal area. So having a buddy is important. Also, make sure that your child has an extra battery pack if they are old enough to be out from your supervision for any extended amount of time. My oldest is 13 and very capable of going around our neighborhood, but the game zaps the battery life of his phone. In order for him to be safe, I send him with an extra battery pack to ensure that he will have use of his cell phone if the need arises.
Set Parental Controls on Phone to Prevent Unwanted Spending
You don’t want to get an email from your ITunes account one morning that your account has been charged hundreds of dollars because your child decided he couldn’t wait to collect PokeBalls the free way. PokeBalls allow players to catch virtual characters and play the game.
Make sure and set the appropriate controls on your child’s phone so that he/she can’t spend your hard earned money without permission.
And last but definitely not least…
Teach Them to Watch Where They are Going
The biggest hazard I have personally seen with kids playing Pokemon outside in their neighborhoods and around town is they are constantly looking at their phones and not aware of their surroundings. It is important that we talk to our kids about safety and that they must be watching what is going on around them.
Keep your heads up kiddos!
My best advice is to treat this game as you would anything else. There are certain dos and don’ts that we teach our kids to keep them safe. This game is no different than when they are at the swimming pool, playing basketball outside, or with friends.
Common sense is our best defense when it comes to Pokemon Go.