, ,

Should You Let Your Kids Play Pokémon GO?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016 Leave a Comment

Guest post by Amy Williams

Do you remember the thrill of collecting stickers, pogs, beanie babies, or trading cards as a kid?

Looking back on our own elementary years, recall a time when stickers were all the rage. It didn’t matter if they were salvaged stickers from our weekly spelling tests or the highly coveted brand-new scratch’n sniff variety, everyone wanted them. Now fast forward a generation, and our sons and daughters still have this desire to collect and barter. However, instead of the compilations of yester year, our kids are clamoring for today’s Pokémon GO collections stored on their digital devices.

Today, Pokémon GO is all the rage, and this free app has been downloaded more than 15 million times, with that number steadily growing. This has led to our sons and daughters begging us to go outside and walk countless miles collecting, tracking, and hatching digital monsters with millions of other players. As more people hit the streets trying to capture and collect as many creatures as possible, it’s easy to see the need to keep our kids safe while they play Pokémon GO.

Kid Friendly Strategies to Safely Play Pokémon GO

As our kids and teens embrace the Poké movement, they are working together as teams, developing thinking skills, and exercising daily. While these are wonderful side effects, there have been some very real concerns about possible dangers associated with this app. As parents, we owe it to our children to teach them the skills needed to stay safe while hunting down a Pikachu or battling at the gym in the park.

Listed below are 8 ways we can keep our children safe while playing Pokémon GO:

Avoid wearing dark clothing. Wear white or reflective colors that make pedestrians more visible to drivers and bikers.

Only play in groups. There is safety in numbers, and by using the buddy system we can reduce the likelihood that our children will find themselves in an unsafe situation.

Download and play together as a family. Take advantage of our child’s interest with collecting Pokémon and use it for quality bonding time. As an added bonus, our children will have us watching over them on their quests to “catch’em all.”

Set limits. Designate certain routes or streets close to home that children can walk, make sure they are home before dark, and require them to check in every so often. As an extra precaution, send them out with an emergency charger in their pocket so they can get in touch with us in case their device’s battery dies.

Ask children for detailed plans and routes before they head out. By giving us an idea of their locations and possible paths, we will have an easier time locating them if needed.

Teach our sons and daughters methods to help them be tuned into their surroundings. Encourage children to stick to public areas, avoid stopping in streets or high-traffic areas, put down devices while walking, and always avoid secluded locations. To help them safely navigate the sidewalks and steps, set the app to vibrate when Pokémon are nearby so their eyes can be pried away from their screens.

Stress good manners. One essential tip for ensuring a kid’s safety is basic, old fashioned etiquette. Tell them to walk on paved areas, avoid running through people’s lawns, and respect personal property.

Don’t drive and Pokémon GO. This is a critical rule for teens, because the distractive nature of this app is dangerous when mixed with moving vehicles. If a player does need to drive to find Poké stops or gyms, have them use a designated driver or pull over before playing.

Looking Ahead

As children, many of us had some form of a collection stashed in our school desks or safely hidden at home. We weren’t picky in our pursuits and would eagerly exchange extra duplicates with our best buddies and peers. In the end, all that mattered was getting the coolest or most valuable collection around.

As our children strive to complete their Pokémon GO collections, how do you keep them safe while playing?

Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety.