10 Things Parents Need to Know Before Their Kid Plays Pokémon Go
If it feels like all you've heard anyone talk about in the last few days is Pokémon Go, you're not alone. Groups of tweens and teens can be found all over towns and cities glued to their phones, frantically swiping up on their phone to catch elusive Pokémon. If your child is expressing interest in playing the game (or has already downloaded it), there are a few things you should know as a parent to make sure that they are safe, not racking up any unwanted bills, and having fun.
Scroll through for 10 pros and cons of the game, which is quickly taking over the world and your kids' free time one virtual Pokémon at a time.
Pro: It's fun!
Straight off the bat and all logistical things aside, Pokémon Go is extremely fun. As a parent, you'll feel nostalgic playing with your little one, and for the younger kids, it will open them up to a really cool virtual world full of fun characters and exciting tasks.
Pro: It gets your kid outside and walking around.
In order to find creatures and items for your personal game, you have to walk around to different areas. Kids who may normally prefer to sit on a couch to play video games are now forced to get up and move! It's screen time, yes, but it's "fit" screen time.
Con: It tracks your GPS.
Because the game is connected with Google Maps so that you can locate Pokémon in real time and real places, your child's phone's location will be activated.
Pro: It's free.
Unlike console games, the app is completely free to download. Though there are in-app purchases available, you can make sure you have yours or their phone set up to disable in-app purchases.
Con: It leads to distracted walking/driving/running.
If your child is out on his bike or walking around with friends trying to catch Pokémon, due to the nature of the game, their eyes will have to be glued to the screen. This makes for distracted walking in roads, riding bikes with one hand, or running to a location with their head down. Remind your child to always be aware of their surroundings and to be stopped before looking down at their phone.
Pro: You can play with them!
If you were a kid when the first Pokémon games came out, you'll likely become as obsessed with this game as your kiddo is. You can go for walks to catch creatures together or take a family trip to a "Pokémon gym" to battle your highest-level finds. It's a different kind of family fun, but it's fun all the same.
Con: It uses data.
Because you can't always play sitting in the WiFi at home, the app does use a lot of data, which is something to be aware of especially if your child has their own phone. Some plans offer unlimited data, but if you're on a limit, your kiddo is about to eat up a fair amount of it. If your child wants to play outside the house, you can look for places with free WiFi so that their Pokémon dreams can still come true on the go.
Pro: It's a fun way to make friends.
Chances are, if you take your kid to the park anytime soon, there will be a huddled group of other children around staring at their phones. This is a cool way for your kid to make new friends their age with obviously similar interests (especially since it's Summer and school is out!) and for you to meet other moms of children equally as consumed with the game. It may seem like encouraging your child to stare at their phone and play a game isn't the best idea, but if it's what all the kids are doing, at least it can be social (kind of).
Con: It's being used to "lure" children to secluded areas.
One of the options in the game is to "lure" people to your location to engage in a battle. It has been reported on at least one occasion that children are being lured to secluded areas, which is basically a parent's worst nightmare. Set some guidelines with your kiddo about where and when they can play, or make sure that you can go out with them so there's a set of eyes.
Pro: It can be educational.
In the game, players can go to "Pokéstops" to get items. Most of these stops are public landmarks like churches, fire stations, libraries, and city buildings. You can use these stops as an opportunity to teach your child about their city and surroundings. The game can also prove to be an awesome lesson in mapping and geography!