get up and go!”
While the game is the antithesis of the typical couch-potato inducing video games that many teens prefer, parents still aren’t 100 percent on-board with the Pokemon phenomenon. The game pulls kids off couches and inspires them to pursue adventures, but Pokemon Go also has encouraged many players to trespass on private property and indulge in some crazy—and risky—moves to capture their prized Pokemon.
Until every Pokemon Trainer (that’s what players are called, FYI) has captured every single cute character in the game, Pokemon Go is here to stay for quite some time. If played responsibly, the game is great for kids of all ages. Everyone needs to get out and move more, and any game that helps promote a degree of physical activity is a friend to all parents.
The key, though, is teaching kids and teens to play Pokemon Go responsibly. There are rules and codes of conduct for game behavior. Parents must ensure that kids—especially younger Pokemon Trainers—stay safe while having fun snagging Squirtle.
1. Pay attention to surroundings. Pokemon Trainers have crashed cars, fallen into ditches and suffered countless other mishaps while playing the game. Eyes need to be peeled from the screen to watch what’s going on outside of the game. Be respectful of pedestrians lurking around the corner. And don’t chase Charizard if he happens to be sitting on a cliff.
2. Respect sacred sites and religious buildings. Do not play the game in cemeteries, churches or historical sites like battlefields. Certain spaces must be treated with dignity and respect. Laughing and chasing Pokemon in sites that are mournful or of a somber nature is extremely inappropriate.
3. Do not trespass. Police stations across the country are seeing high incidents of trespassing thanks to Pokemon Go. In some states, fines are issued to violators. And then, of course, there are the home owners who twist the meaning of their state’s Castle Doctrine and shoot at trespassers. No Pokemon—no matter how rare and elusive—is worth an injury. Respect that private property is private and do not trespass.
4. Protect personal information. Niantic’s user agreement states that the company can access Personal Identifying Information (PII) based on what the privacy settings with the Google email account allow. Check privacy settings on Google accounts before signing on with the game. Make sure kids and teens protect their information.
5. Take time for family. Pokemon Go quickly becomes addicting as Trainers try to capture all the Pokemon. Don’t let young players get too caught up in the game. Set time aside for game time and family time. Make it a rule that devices are not allowed to be used during family time at locations that might make playing the game enticing. For younger players who lack their own driver’s license, plan Pokemon Go trips to help them hunt down new characters…and discover new places in the process. Invite friends along on the adventure.
Pokemon Go is a fun way to encourage kids to get outside and find adventures. While the game has led some Trainers down the wrong path, parents can teach kids to be responsible while pursuing their most prized Pokemon. Play responsibly and catch them all without injury…or a criminal record.