There aren’t many things that you can count on as reliably. One of those things is a new phenomenon in gaming breaking down barriers and potentially worrying parents. The recent launch of Pokémon GO is a perfect example of that. After being available for just a few days, some parents have begun to worry that Pokémon GO may not be safe for their children, despite it being family friend and encouraging kids to stay active.
To be clear, all of their worries aren’t unfounded. We’ve never seen an augmented reality game get as popular as Pokémon GO has. The game tracks you using the GPS and compass inside phones, necessitating the need to explore the world around you. For younger children especially, roaming neighborhoods alone isn’t a great idea. Because it’s a phone game, kids are required to glance at their iPhone or Android device periodically, which has led to even adults getting themselves in rough situations.
Here are some Pokémon GO safety tips for parents with children that love the new game from Niantic Labs.
Pokemon Go Safety Tips: No Visiting Pokémon GO PokeStops on Their Own After Dark
The bigger a phenomenon gets the more people want to take advantage of it. We’re seeing this with business owners, media outlets and now crooks. Business owners are leaving lures outside their shops to boost foot traffic. Media outlets are writing about anything and everything related to Pokémon GO. Crooks are using PokeStops and Gyms to rob unsuspecting Trainers, apparently.
This tip goes for adults too; if it’s daylight, visit as many PokeStops as you can. If you really deem it necessary to visit PokeStops and Gyms in your area at night, it’s best to do so in a group. Incidents involving PokeStops and Gyms aren’t widespread, but if it has happened. It’s better to take some common sense precautions.
Pokemon Go Safety Tips: Turn On Vibration So That Staring at the Screen Isn’t Necessary
You and your kid should both have vibration notifications on for Pokémon GO. Be sure that they’re on by checking the game’s Settings from the Pokeball menu. With vibrations on, your smartphone will vibrate every time there’s a Pokémon nearby. This saves you and your child from staring at the screen instead of paying attention to your surroundings.
Pokemon Go Safety Tips: Don’t Let Your Kid Wear Headphones While Playing Pokémon GO
Hand in hand with turning on Vibrations, wearing headphones while playing Pokémon GO is a bad idea. Don’t let your kid do it.
Sure, they won’t be able to enjoy the music that the game has to offer, but they will be more aware of their surroundings. Hearing a car as it gets closer or water rushing by should keep them alert and out of any danger. Sometimes, Pokémon can appear near roadways, or parks with bluffs. Situational awareness is key.
Pokemon Go Safety Tips: Keep an Eye on Your Data
Pokémon GO shouldn’t use as much of your data allotment as watching a movie or a television show, but it is a game that requires an internet connection. As such, it’s going to use data.
How quickly your kid will deplete your data allotment depends on how often they play and how much data they have available. Be sure to check inside your mobile carrier’s apps to gauge how much data your kid is using. This way, there are no surprises at the end of the month.
T-Mobile is making things easier on those that play the game, it won’t count any data that the game consumes toward the high-speed data allotment that each user gets. It’s also giving out game-related extras through its T-Mobile Tuesdays app.
Pokemon Go Safety Tips: Only Let Them Go Pokémon GO Training in Groups
You can’t be with your kid for every Pokémon GO Training session. That doesn’t mean that someone else can’t help you keep an eye on them. If they’re old enough to already go places with other kids, try encouraging them to get that regular group of friends together to track down new creatures.
Most medium to large cities have large swaths of PokeStops and Gyms in high-traffic areas. If at all possible, drop the group of friends off there for an early evening of capturing and tracking. Check in with them periodically to make sure everything is ok.
If they’re too young to go off with friends on their own, try setting up playdates with the parents of their friends.
Pokemon Go Safety Tips: Lock Pokémon GO In-App Purchases
Also in the nature of staying away from surprises, Pokémon GO is free to download, but isn’t without ways to spend money.
You’ll want to lock down in-app purchases on your kid’s iPhone or device running Android. If that’s not possible, ensure that their Google Play or iTunes Store account doesn’t have your credit card attached to it. This way, they’ll have to earn Lure Modules, PokeBalls, Incense and others by getting Gold from Gyms.
Good luck with Pokémon GO.