Pokémon Go – safety tips for parents and kids

pokemonWHETHER your were a child of the 90s and played the game on your Gameboy or jumped on the revamp in the noughties – Pokémon has been a part of society for over two decades.

Flash forward to 2016 and Pokémon Go has launched and the kids of the 90s have come a long way from swapping cards in the playground.

Pokémon is, without doubt, the most popular mobile phone game at this moment in time.

The idea of the game is to wander around collecting Pokémon which can be trained up to fight in gyms.

Even we at Egremont 2Day have been out and about trying to catch ‘em all.

Sounds innocent enough but some charities, including the NSPCC, have raised concerns over children’s safety when playing the game.

We know it’s hard to go against a trend so we have complied some tips to keep your kids safe and aware when they’re out and about trying to be the very best:

1. Data Limit

Each time it is played the game uses some, but not much, of your data download limit. It is worth checking how much data your phone contract allows per month and what costs are incurred for exceeding that limit.

2. Battery life

Playing the game seriously depletes a phone’s battery, meaning no phone for emergency calls. There are a few solutions:

  1. Buy a battery pack which allows you to charge up a depleted phone battery.
  2. Switch on the ‘power saving’ feature – this reduces battery drain, by switching the screen off after so many minutes inactivity, but allows the game to still run.

Power saving mode also turns off the AR mode (i.e. it no longer superimposes a Pokémon character on the real world as seen through the phone’s camera).

The other solution is to try and agree with your child that once the battery is reduced to a certain percentage they turn the game off to allow for those emergency calls.

3. In game costs

The game itself is free but, like many mobile phone games, it relies on in-game purchases in order to progress. The safest way to ensure these costs don’t get out of hand is ensuring that no credit card or bank details are stored on the phone or, in the case of iPhone, no saved links to the ITunes account.

4. Physical risk

Part of the game requires users to walk around with the game still running. This can easily cause a distraction, allowing users to bump into things or walk into the middle of the road (sounds like an exaggeration, but it has happened!) There is no real answer to this one other than remind children of the dangers of crossing a road and, if they are out with a group of friends, perhaps take it in turns to act as a ‘spotter’ for the group.

5. Meeting Strangers

A significant element of the game involves going to gyms to fight other Pokémon. These are in fixed locations, such as parks and other public spaces. This can cause safety concerns for children if out on their own. Remind children to not talk to strangers and, if possible, to only remain in these locations with a group of friends.

6. Personal Information

Pokémon Go likes users of the game to sign up using a social network account, but you can use an email address instead for logging into the game. If you are worried about the information being accessed you could use your own email address or set up a separate email, with very little information, just for the game.

Further information can be found on the NSPCC website.