Love it or hate it – if you have school age kids, you can’t simply ignore the Pokemon Go App, hope it goes away or hope that your kids don’t discover it. The fact of the matter, even if your kids don’t have a smartphone or tablet, they’ve probably already been playing Pokemon Go with their friends on their devices. So just like having that dreaded sex talk with your kids, I’d advice not hiding the smartphone or tablet, hoping that they don’t try it. Have the Pokemon Go safety talk with them before it’s too late.
If you think, “not my kid – they won’t play – I’ve told them not to”, think again. A friend and I were chatting about this the other day on the phone. She’d told her teens the app was dangerous and had them delete it from their phones; then as we were talking, she saw them wandering up the road, staring into their phones, oblivious to the rest of their surroundings. They are good kids and are smart, but friends had been playing it at the beach, earlier in the day, and they were hooked again – “what harm could it do?” So my friend hopped off the phone with me, to sit down with them and have ‘the talk’.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not against the Pokemon Go App – it kind of opens up a world of magic, which I love, but I’d love to see it kept in the realm of good magic, as oppose to opening up to tragedy and horrors, which often go hand in hand with good magic in the storybook realm. In that bent, it is good to understand the potential dangers associated with the Pokeman Go App, so that you can advice your kids (and yourselves) on how to stay safe while you have fun playing. Here is a great video on just that, that the Miami PD recently shared: Social Media 101:Pokemon Go. Do give it a watch.
Here are a few tips to keep your kids (and yourself) safe while playing Pokemon Go:
- Stay aware of your surroundings.
- Predators have been known to hangout at Pokemon Go hotspots, watching for the unsuspecting players.
- Watch where you are going, so you don’t put yourself in harm’s way – like in traffic.
- Don’t meet up with strangers to hunt Pokemon, especially at night.
- Hunt Pokemon with a friend (that you actually know from the real world – not just online), rather than on your own.
- Watch out for each other’s safety.
- Just because someone approaches you that is also playing the game, does not mean that they are safe. Listen to your spidey senses and use the usual cautions that you would with a stranger.
- Put the game away while riding a bike, roller blades, a skateboard or driving a car.
- Respect private property.
- A virtual critter inside someone’s home or someone else’s land does not give you the right to enter, and by doing so you could put yourself in danger or at risk of criminal charges.
On the note of respect, also remind your kids to be respectful of the places they are in. Just as you should respect other people’s property, it is also important to respect memorial sites. They are plenty of other places to hunt Pokemon, without disturbing a sacred place and upsetting others. (I suspect with how the app works, Pokemon are only showing up in those places, as they are geolocating where you are, and popping Pokemon up nearby. If you leave this area be, those Pokemon will pop up in more respectful place instead.)
Now go have fun hunting Pokemon with your kids, and teach them how to be safe and respectful about it in the process.