Pokemon Go Craze has officially come to Canada.
Do you know what a what a Pikachu is? Do you know how many types of Pokemon there are? Do you even know what a Pokemon is?
You may not know the answers to these questions, but there is a strong possibility that your child does.
Before you download the seemingly harmless app for your child or let your teenager go chase Pokemon in the park, you need to know some things about the gaming app that has recently become a viral sensation.
Although there are many benefits associated with the game, there are also safety issues you should be concious of.
In this article, we’ll take a look at Pokemon Go. We will tell you exactly what it is, how it works, and what you can do to keep your kids safe while playing.
What are Pokemons?
The Pokeman franchise began as a Nintendo game boy video game back in the mid 90’s. According to the Pokemon parenting guide…
Pokemon’s are imaginary virtual creatures that live in the wild or with humans. They can grow and evolve and become different kinds of Pokemons.
There are over 700 types of Pokemons. The people that own them are “trainers.”
Trainers find, catch, train, trade and battle Pokemon.
Pikachu are an adorable little yellow rodent species of Pokeman which have become the trademark character of the franchise.
What is Pokemon Go?
Pokemon Go is a new mobile game you can download and play on your smartphone.
Once you or your child downloads the app, you become a trainer and create an avatar that can find, catch, and bring Pokeman characters to train at Pokemon gyms.
What makes this game unique is augmented reality gameplay.
The app uses your phone’s GPS and camera to allow you see the avatar of you on your phone moving around within your actual environment.
When you find a Pokeman they will appear on your smartphone screen when you hold it up like it is actually standing in front of you.
phot cred: Reddit Pokemon Go Snap Update user rorr314
So finding Pokeman and gyms to train them in means you have to get off the couch and explore your community.
The people you see running around trying to catch Pokemon are trainers who have aspirations of becoming Pokemon League champions.
Pokemon Go is The Most Popular US Mobile Game of All-Time!
Pokemon Go was released in July 2016.
Within 24 hrs of its release, the Pokemon Go app, become the most downloaded app of 2016.
Within 3 days it had more users than Twitter.
After only a few weeks it became the biggest US mobile game of all-time!
Dangers of Pokemon Go
The game’s hysteria has provoked concern from law enforcement, New York City Police Commissioner, Bill Bratton spoke on the dangers of the game, mentioning that trainers (players) venture into locations and neighbourhoods they don’t know — putting themselves at risk.
The game also creates situations where people are interacting with strangers.
A NYdailynews.com article reported the story of a registered sex offender playing Pokemon with a young teenage boy.
Parents should definitely not let young children or teenagers play the game alone.
While Pokemon Go promotes health by encouraging people to walk around, some people are stumbling into situations that may be traumatic for children.
For instance, an LAtimes.com article reported that while searching for Pokemons, a group of women found a dead body** — and unfortunately there have been several reports of dead bodies found during gameplay.
The augmented reality game prevents people from concentrating and has contributed to physical injury for several people.
- In California, two grown men were injured after they fell off a cliff.
- In Florida, two teenagers looking for Pokemons, were shot at by a homeowner, who thought they were thieves.
The game’s GPS feature also allows trainers to lure people to their location. This has resulted in unsuspecting players getting robbed.
TheGuardian.com reported the story of a group of thieves who set up virtual locations to attract players — with the intent of robbing them.
A Missouri police department spokesman explained how this was done, saying
“You can add a beacon to a Pokestop to lure more players… apparently, they (robbers) were using the app to locate (people) standing around in the middle of a parking lot or whatever other location they were in.”
As the game continues to grow in popularity, there will be more reports of nefarious activities. However, this doesn’t mean that the game itself is bad.
What are the positives of Pokemon?
Benefits of Pokemon Go
Believe it or not, there are tremendous health benefits associated with the game. Parents may find that their children who at one time, may at one time have been couch potatoes — more active and outgoing.
A ScienceDaily.com article pointed out a health-related aspect of the game.
As a trainer, you have to walk several miles in order for your Pokemon to grow. So as your child trains their virtual pets, they may find themselves shedding a few pounds.
In one extreme case, Mashable reported that in order to catch all 142 Pokemon in a 2 week period a New York player covered over 150 kms all on foot!!
Instead of refusing to allow your child to play…
You may consider allocating specific time to play with your child, perhaps making it a family activity.
The New Zealand parenting website Stuff.co.nz featured an article listing reasons why parents should consider playing with their kids — the main point is that parents and children have an activity that brings them together.
The irony of trying to enforce safety with Pokemon was mentioned in a Chicago.com news article: so many parents have encouraged their kids to get out and stop watching television — now that there is an app that does that, you can’t prevent them from being active.
Pokemon Go Safety Tips
If you want to monitor your children’s activity and where they’ve gone, the game enables you to look at the history.
An AndroidCentral.com article has a list of safety tips and recommendations for the app
- Use the journal which allows you to see when and where your child was playing.
- Don’t use your real name for a username
- Don’t look at your phone while crossing the street
- Play with groups
- Let someone know where you’re going.
Parents, also practice safety by example.
Adults have become addicted to the game and Newsday.com reported that a man crashed his car into a tree while searching for Pokemons, resulting in serious injury.
During an interview with CBS 4 Rio Grande Valley, police officer Irving Segura spoke on the basic dangers of the game.
“It’s trying to promote people to go outside and get them off being at home, which is great, but again, because you are just constantly looking at your phone, that’s where the safety comes in mind.”
In order to ensure Pokemon Go safety, parents must be involved with the gameplay.
Just like any other piece of technology, enforce rules associated with playing time and make sure that the children aren’t playing alone.
Instead of preventing your kids from playing, a different approach may include leading safe gameplay.
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