For the first time in history you may hear your kids complain that it’s raining so they can’t go outside and play video games. This is the parents’ guide to the newest social phenomenon that has taken over the world.
1. What is Pokémon Go?
You have probably come across Pokémon before. It’s Japanese for ‘pocket monsters’. You may even be familiar with Pikachu. Pokémon has been around for ages and spans video games, TV shows, a trading card game and now has become super popular because of the smart phone app, Pokémon Go. Chances are your kids are playing it!
2. How does it work?
The basic idea of the game is that you travel around the real world and find Pokémon using your device. There are 250 different types of Pokémon out there. If your kid comes home excited about catching Bulbasaur there’s nothing to worry about. It’s not a drug or a disease. It’s a grass type Pokémon with razor leaf attack. You collect them and battle against other users. Your kid doesn’t need hand-eye coordination to catch Pokémon – just a fully-charged smartphone and access to the internet.
This week I saw a group of teenagers running laps around a park with their phones in front of their faces. They were outdoors with their friends, they were exercising and they were playing a video game all at the same time. Weird.
3. Basic facts
- It’s free. You sign up using a Google account. If you have Gmail, you’re good to go. This may raise alarm bells in regards to access to personal information so make sure when your kid is setting up their account that they only permit the app access to their basic information, not full access.
- There are in-game purchases that can cost money too.
- You need to travel to find Pokémon.
- The places that attract players are called Pokéstops and there are hundreds of them across every city. These are public places where users gather to collect in-game items. It’s now common to see people hanging around places like war memorials more than usual to play this game. Parents will want to think about how far their kid can travel and what Pokéstops are safe to hang out at.
4. Stop, look and listen
- Basic road-crossing rules still apply but may be forgotten! Remind your kids of them again.
- Never drive and Pokémon.
- Like all smartphone apps and online games, there are risks – it is worth familiarising yourself with some of these with a simple Google search.
- Talk with other parents about their experiences thoughts, and, of course, have a conversation with your child about it.
5. Get to know the game
The easiest way to get to know this game is to download it yourself. Familiarise yourself with it and catch the odd Pidgeoto. When you understand the newest app or social media craze, you can see where boundaries should be drawn for your kids. You might not feel like you can keep up with the technology but you still have an edge over your kids. The most powerful device they have is the brain, and yours is better. You can see risks and you should trust your instincts.
Ask your kid to give you a tour of the game. Most kids love opportunities to be the expert and they will enjoy showing you how the game works. Before they know it they’ve disclosed all the information that you will need to know.
6. Have fun!
You might get some great quality time in with your kid walking around the neighbourhood or driving around town catching Pokémon these holidays. You might even have fun yourself!