Is Pokémon Go Suitable for Children? Tips for Parents
I have read a few negative posts on how suitable Pokémon Go is for children. As a mother and a player, I want to share some information about the game and how it’s played along with some safety tips.
- If you get the app for your child be prepared to do a lot more walking and exploring of your local area. You have to walk to find Pokémon (although you will probably be able to get a few in your own home too).
- You’ll have to walk to find Pokéstops and gyms unless you’re extremely lucky to have one on your road (not likely if you’re in a rural area).
- The Pokéstops and gyms are usually places of interest, shops or churches and statues for example. You need to go there to get free items such as Pokéballs and other goodies.
- You can buy Pokéballs with real money, but going to Pokéstops removes the need to do so.
- Make sure your child can’t make in-game purchases with your account without your permission to remove temptation.
- YOU WILL NEED TO WALK. I’ve already said this but I want to make it very clear that walking is necessary. You can drive to stops and gyms if you want, but this is the perfect excuse to be active and encourage your children to get active through your own actions. They will want to go out and walk, a lot. This is an amazing thing, do be prepared for the increase in activity in the whole family.
- It’s very important to be aware of your surroundings and ensure children know not to walk into private areas, not to play on the road or in driveways and to move to a safe area before they stop to try to catch a Pokémon that has appeared on the app. I have walked into a bush while playing! These risks are real, remind children to pay attention to the world around them and not just the screen.
- Lures are set off at Pokéstops by players in order to attract more Pokémon to catch. They appear on the app at the Pokéstops and it looks like loads of confetti. These lures are fantastic as players gather at these spots and this is where the social side of the game kicks in. Most people ask about what team you’re on, they tell you about places to find rare Pokémon or their latest catch and you can do the same. This is what the cautious parents are worried about, children being lured to these spots and put at risk. If you’re worried, go with your children! If you have older teenagers, tell them to stick together and take into consideration the area you live in and the crime levels.
- Find gyms at places of interest. A gym is where you can either add your Pokémon to a gym that is owned by your team (which are basically red, blue or yellow) to strengthen the gym. Alternatively, if the gym is owned by an opposing team you can fight them by putting your strongest Pokémon against the Pokémon that currently hold the gym. If you win and get the gym down to zero, you add your Pokémon and own it – until someone wins it off you. You may see other players at the gyms, you may not.
- I have yet to see a child play the app. So far it’s been teenagers and adults ranging from around 20 – 40+.
- Everyone we have met at a Pokéstop or a gym has been friendly and this is one of the best things about the app.
- If you have a young child I very much doubt you would let them wander off around the town on their own, stick with them while they play this app too.
- Currently, you can’t interact with anyone online within the app. There’s no online chatting or making friends to worry about. Trading will be possible in the future. Keep an eye on the updates as we’re not sure about the future plans for this app.
- Pokémon Go does use up data when you’re not using WiFi, it doesn’t use a lot, but keep an eye on the usage if you don’t have unlimited data as part of your contract or PAYG.
- Put the battery saver on. Pokemon Go eats up the battery very quickly. I usually get 2 hours of battery life if I start with 100% with my Samsung S6, the iPhone 5 doesn’t last quite as long.
- The app needs to connect to the GPS in your phone to work. It uses Google Maps, GPS and the pedometer in your phone to track your steps, lead you to the gyms and stops and help you find Pokémon. You’ll need to have GPS enabled, have a phone signal and 3G or 4G.
This is a really fun app for people of all ages. It’s also a sociable game that gets you moving, it’s unlike anything I have ever played before and it has really impressed me. Teach your children about stranger danger, escort them around your town but I suggest that you do experience the social side together. Not everyone is evil in this world and living in fear is no way to live. Be safe, teach safety and street smarts, but remember to embrace the fun.