Pokemon Go is an international phenomenon. We recently even wrote about the Top 5 Tips for Pokemon Go Beginners.
No doubt many of your friends, workmates, and perhaps even you are enjoying this game. And if you are a parent, it is almost guaranteed that your children are playing Pokemon Go. But unlike most mobile games such as Angry Birds or Fruit Ninja, Pokemon Go’s gameplay can pose a danger to your child.
What are the dangers with Pokemon Go?
DANGER: Wandering the Neighboor
The entire concept of the game is to capture virtual creatures known as Pokemon. But in order to travel to their location in the game, you have to actually travel to that location in REAL-LIFE. For most adults to walk around the neighborhood, park, or shopping plaza this is no problem. But depending on the age of your child, this could be a danger.
SOLUTION: Set Limits
Just like you may set limits as to where in the neighborhood your child is able to play without any supervision, set limits as to how far from home they can go alone trying to find Pokemon. Also limit what times of day they are able to leave the house or neighborhood. There have been news stories of children roaming the streets late at night trying to find Pokemon, and having run-ins with dangerous people.
If they are going to a particular location, have them tell you where. Having them play with other friends can also help protect them.
Another way to be safe is to install Location Tracking software onto their phone. An excellent app for this is Norton Family Parental Control for both iOS and Android. It will track your child’s smartphone in real-time with their GPS coordinates.
DANGER: Child Predators & Pokestops
Pokestops are locations that to collect in-game items. And you use a “lure” to attract Pokemon to that location. This is potentially dangerous if predators use a lure hoping to draw young children there, especially alone.
SOLUTION: Help Them Know What’s Safe
Many Pokestops are in very public places that are extremely safe to be at alone, unless of course it is after dark. But sometimes Pokestops can be in more secluded areas, such as large parks.
So help your child to understand what are safe locations to visit alone and which would require taking you or other friends with him.
DANGER: Child Predators & Gyms
Pokemon Go Gyms are intended to be places where many other players gather to battle their Pokemon against each other. This can make video game playing a uniquely real-life social experience.
Of course, this can also be enticing to Child Predators or other people with bad intentions, knowing that unsuspecting players will be wandering the area, with their eyes glued to their phone’s screen.
SOLUTION: Leave When Few People Are There
Since Gyms are frequented by many players, they tend to be safe places with many people. But help your child to always be aware of their surroundings, even during the day. If they see that there is only a person or two at the Gym and they are alone, let them know that they should leave and return at a better time.
DANGER: Pokemon Locations
At times Pokemon can appear in real-world locations that pose a danger, especially to younger children. For example, Pokemon appearing over pools, ponds, rivers, under bridges, and etc. These locations require being more observant of where you walk, but this often is ignored while your child is looking at their phone avidly trying to location that Pokemon.
SOLUTION: Be Careful Around Water and Roads
Decide if they are even mature enough to be allowed to go to such areas without any adult supervision. And if so, clearly explain how they must be more careful around such locations and what to do if an accident happens.
This another instance where Norton’s Family Parental Control app is useful, helping you to know your child’s GPS location at all times.
DANGER: Breaking the Bank
Although Pokemon Go is free to play, it does have in-app purchases to help you progress faster. Younger children may not fully understand the concept of money, so it is probably best to enable parental controls on in-app spending.
SOLUTION: Enable Parental Controls
GOOGLE PLAY STORE: With Google, the best way to control their spending is to enable the authentication feature. This requires that a password be entered to make any purchases.
APPLE STORE: Apple has an option called Ask to Buy. This tells you when your child tries to make a purchase, and allows you to approve it or not.