The Pokémon GO mobile game is being played by millions, and parents need to know the benefits and risks. Read this short guide to learn more.
What is Pokémon GO?
Pokémon GO is a popular mobile game that was created by Niantic and released in July, 2016. It’s based on the popular Pokémon franchise that covers trading cards, video games, television shows, and more (few made it out of the 1990s without some exposure to it). The latest game takes a more personal approach by utilizing the camera on your smartphone and a game map that puts you in the Pokémon world. It’s called augmented reality, and it’s a feature that you’ll be seeing a lot more of in the near future.
In Pokémon GO, you are a Pokémon trainer who walks around catching Pokémon by flicking a Poké Ball at the creatures and adding them to your virtual collection. You can find items to improve your game, hatch eggs to get more Pokémon, and battle other trainers on opposing teams. If you would like to learn more about how to play the game, this blog post is really helpful.
Our family has been playing the game for the last few weeks and have enjoyed it quite a bit; we’ve gone on more walks, explored new places, and met lots of people along the way.
The Benefits of Pokémon GO
There are several benefits associated with playing Pokémon GO:
If you don’t get up and walk around, you won’t go far in the game. Since I started playing Pokémon GO, I’ve walked over 20 miles. I’ve been wanting to go on more walks, and this has been a great motivator for me.
So many people are playing Pokémon GO, making it really easy to meet your neighbors and make new friends; it appeals to different age groups, and the competition isn’t as prominent as it is in other games. You can’t interact with the players in the game, which encourages players to do this in person.
This is a great way to get out of the house with your family, and it’s cheap! You can go on a walk, pack a picnic, or go on a play date with another family.
One of the things that I like most about the game is that it encourages me to explore more; I’ve gone to several parks in the area, and have walked around parts of my neighborhood that I normally wouldn’t go to.
Poké Stops are locations in the game where you can collect items that will help you in the game. They’re often located at historical markers, so you can learn a little history while playing the game. You can also take your students on field trips where there are a lot of Poké Stops.
What Parents Should Know About Pokémon GO
While Pokémon GO is a fun, beneficial game, it also comes with potential risks.
While the game is free, you can make in-app purchases. For kids who have the password to your account, or for a compulsive spender, this could be problematic.
As I mentioned before, one of the benefits of the game is that you can meet people; but it can also be a risk. It’s helpful to set clear guidelines with your family on how to interact with strangers: when they should be playing the game, where they should go, and whether or not they can play it alone.
The game is on your phone, so the possibility of being distracted is high. This can be a mild issue for tripping or walking into things, and dangerous when you’re walking down a road or by a cliff. When the game loads, this warning appears: “Remember to be alert at all times. Stay aware of your surroundings.”
This one ties into distractions as well. It’s super easy to walk onto private property while playing the game, so game players should keep this in mind so that they aren’t an annoyance to property owners.
Like most video games, you can become obsessed with Pokémon GO. If your children are showing signs that they’re addicted to the game, have a talk with them about how to balance it with the rest of their life.
The Wired Homeschool’s podcast episode about Pokémon GO.
Ethan Demme’s series on digital citizenship.
John Wilkerson says
Hey, Joseph! Thanks for mentioning my podcast in your blog post. I appreciate it!