Have you noticed groups of kids gathered together looking at their phones? If so, there's a very good chance that they're playing Pokémon Go, which is the hottest new smartphone app game to hit the streets.
The game uses your phone's GPS to send you on a hunt for monsters and makes virtual Pokémon appear around you for capturing. As you walk around town, the goal is the capture as many Pokémon that you can so that you can train them and battle them against other Pokémon Go players.
This huge sensation has created a number of safety concerns for parents though. Could the game be too distracting for kids and cause them to not pay attention to where they're walking? Considering the game involves interacting with other players, will this cause kids to let their guard down too soon?
With that being said, should your kids be playing Pokémon Go? Since we frequently use our blog to offer parenting tips, we wanted to touch on this valid concern.
Advocates of Pokémon Go appreciate the game because it encourages kids to get outside and be active. Kids today have a tendency to sit inside on the couch playing video games. While Pokémon Go offers the video game appeal, it also requires that the players physically walk or run around town to hunt and capture the virtual creatures.
However, the fact that some young children are going outside alone to catch Pokémon could have safety risks. In the game, people have the ability to "lure" other players to a specified location to catch more Pokémon. While this is typically not the case, it does open up the potential for questionable characters to lure kids to a location or to take note of patterns of places kids frequently visit. We strongly encourage you to monitor the destinations your children plan to visit while playing this game.
Another big concern is kids can become easily distracted when staring down at their phones and aren't really paying attention to which way they're walking. This creates the risk of players walking into oncoming traffic or finding themselves in a bad part of town without realizing it. Remind your children to look both ways and to pay attention to their surroundings while playing this game. Their phone will vibrate when a pokemon appears, so there is no need to keep your head buried in the phone while walking or running around.
Parents should also know that while the game itself is free, there are a number of in-app purchases that could quickly rack up a bill. This can easily be avoided by adding parental controls for in-app spending. To prevent a large bill at the end of the month, we suggest parents to set limitations with their children and on their device.
While we did just point out a number of concerns that parents have involving Pokémon Go, there are also many reasons why you should consider allowing your kids to play this game. Some of the best parenting tips that you'll hear in regards to Pokémon Go is to play the game with your children. By doing this, parents will be able to spend quality time with their children, and the kids won't feel as though they're missing out on this huge augmented reality game fad.
For more parenting tips on a similar topic, please be sure to read our recent blog post about parenting in today's digital age.