A video game that gets kids off the couch and into the real world!
Except when you’re playing Pokémon Go, you may not be paying attention in the real world. And while there are some headline grabbing stories like Pennsylvania Teenager Hit By Car While Playing Pokémon Go, the game itself isn’t dangerous to play. In fact, it has kids and adults moving and interacting in an entirely different way.
The premise of the game is to get out into the world and explore. It has people going to parks, libraries, and monuments. It has both kids and adults exercising and interacting face to face. I’ve been teaching karate to children for over 20 years. I’m always concerned about keeping kids safe, but also active. Pokémon Go’s great thing – as long as you use a little common sense and a few safety rules.
Here’s how your kid can have a great time playing and stay safe at the same time:
1. Use the Buddy System
This one’s a no-brainer. While each community is different and every family has their own level of allowed-independence, it’s simply safer for kids to walk around town with a friend. The game uses a local map and shows players at their current location. It shows what pokémon are near, but that may not be at your house.
To catch a pokémon, your child may need to cross roads or walk through your neighborhood. Since millions are playing (and 63% are women!), it shouldn’t be hard to find local, trustworthy kids to partner up with.
Better yet, start playing the game with your kid.
2. Have the Right Gear
This is not just a daytime game as players are out 24/7. While your child won’t be roaming the streets at 2am, you still want them to be safe while playing at night. They should always wear light colored clothing, have comfortable and sturdy walking shoes, and also have some reflective gear.
3M’s Brilliant Tape can be applied to your child’s backpack, shoes, water bottle or even their smartphone cases. The tape is designed to reflect light back at drivers at any angle and it comes in a variety of colors. This means you can add it to your kid’s accessories without a lot of fuss.
3. Check Out the Local Playing Field
Time to learn a little Pokémon Go 101!
The game uses real world locations, like monuments, churches, and libraries, as virtual places like Pokémon Gyms and Poké Stops. Players can go to these locations to get items they need to play the game (like potions, eggs, and Poké balls). Plus, this is where their team can battle for control of a Gym.
Regardless of whether or not you’re a player, you should learn all the local places where the game is played. We have a very active park and downtown area where I live, and we’ll often see many players at the park at the same time. Look inside the video game to find where these places are in your local community.
Talk with your child about where they can and cannot go. Drive around to see when the most people are playing and perhaps avoid the busiest times. Learn the game so you can make a safe plan for your child to play in your community.
Just the Beginning
With the enormous success of Pokémon Go, it won’t be long until other games try the same thing. Since I work with kids, I’d be thrilled if more games got kids into the real world and off their computers. Granted, this game uses a smartphone. But it’s gotten my nephew (who’s been addicted to Minecraft for years) to take the dog for a walk and go to the park – voluntarily!
So if your child wants to jump on the Pokémon Go bandwagon, just remember to play responsibly.