Pokemon Go, Tips For Parents

Pokemon Go, Tips For Parents

Pokemon-GO-Icon“Pokemon Go” Rated 9+ is going nuts here in Australia! It’s one of the fastest growing online trends I’ve ever seen in 20 years of being online. Some parents who’s children are playing this new mobile game are actually really exited that their previously, shut-in gamer teens have finally found a game where they are wanting to actually go “outside” to play.

What is it, and how safe is it?

As with all new games/apps the safety of the game remains to be seen. Along with all the excitement and hype around Pokemon Go, there are already reports of some dangers… real life dangers. With some commonsense and supervision however, these dangers can be minimised.

Why is this game so popular and exiting?

Pokemon Go is one of the first popular games to use what is called Augmented Reality, blending our real life world with an online world. Augmented Reality? For example, there are Augmented Reality style app for stargazing, involving holding your mobile phone up to the stars tell you what constellation is above you.

Fascinating stuff, and I can already see some amazing applications for this style of game already. Whenever an app or game takes off as rapidly as this one has, other developers are going to jump on board and start developing their own version. How about a bird watching version…or a History landmark version?…Yeh I know…that sounds lame to the average teen, but you know it’s going to happen, Education Gamification and all that.

Pokemon Go also appeals to players who grew up in the 90’s with Pokemon, remember the cards and Nintendo games? It’s still hugely popular. Pokemon Go is fun, social and of course competitive, and anyone can play it.

Marketing Opportunities

The advertisers and marketers are already capitalising on this game. Shops and public places are already acknowledging it’s power to draw people to certain locations, and will certainly be offering incentives to promote or spend money at these locations for sure.

I’ve started playing Pokemon Go and will update this post as I find out more about it.

PokemonGo Growth
PokemonGo Growth From ABC.net.au

What is it?

This game launched by Niantic Labs, a spin off from Google, is available on Mobile Apple and Android devices, download it for free from iTunes or from the Google Play store. The game uses your phones GPS and camera to produce an augmented reality style hunting game where you collect and trade cute creatures called Pokemon (Pocket Monsters) for points “candies & stardust” and for levelling up. After levelling up you can then “battle” other teams to win control of  important real life locations called “Pokemon Gyms”, usually located in public meeting spots like parks or churches and memorials. This is all done using a Google style in game map that shows you where these creatures and locations are in your real life location. See the video below for a demo.

If you see groups of people walking around with their phones in their hands and squealing that they have seen a Pikachu you are probably witnessing the players of this game. It’s actually a very technical game with lots of levels and options you can find out more details Here:

Pokemon Go
My first capture!

Good Points

  1. Pokemon Go seems like a really fun game and gets players outside! Yay!
  2. It gets players walking and moving and exploring their environments
  3. Neighbours get to meet each other and have fun playing against each other
  4. It’s social – Playgroups are already being formed and arranged through social media like Twitter and Facebook, so players can join a group and play together.
  5. It’s a “nice” game, no adult content, swearing, or graphic violence (cartoonish battles only).

Things To Watch Out For

Parents need to be aware that this app uses location tracking, like Google maps and Apple maps does. Unless you have a Niantic account already, you must sign up with a Google account.

Also note the Age limit requirements and parental consent required for children signing up under 13yrs of age (see pic below). Niantic require parents to sign up for an account on their website. After signing up yourself you can then add a child to the account. You can set some privacy options then on your child’s account. Right now though I don’t see a way for any other sign in on the Pokemon Go app other than through Google however on an Apple Device. Edit 18/07/16 You can now sign up to Pokemon Go with your PGL membership or your Google account. You may be able to do it on Android. So signing up for an account on the Pokemon International Website doesn’t seem a way to sign in a child on the app and comply with their Terms Of Service.

Age Limits on Pokemon Go
Age Limits on Pokemon Go

Edit: 12/7/16 There are warnings about the permissions granted to the game company over our Google account when you sign up through Google on iOS. This has yet to be confirmed as being an issue. The developers of the game just release a statement “We recently discovered that the Pokémon GO account creation process on iOS erroneously requests full access permission for the user’s Google account. However, Pokémon GO only accesses basic Google profile information (specifically, your User ID and email address) and no other Google account information is or has been accessed or collected.” You can check out their full privacy policy here. If you are worried about Niantic knowing who your child is by their Google account details, you may not want to use this app. But keep in mind, there are many apps that use location services to track where you are to offer you local information. You can certainly turn off the location services in your child’s phone settings for certain apps, but Pokemon Go won’t work without location services enabled. Some have suggested that they may sign up for a new Google account just to play the game that doesn’t link all their other Google products like mail, docs and more, for extra security.

Also note: There are in app purchases “Game Coins” and other incentives to level up, one purchase is listed at $159.99!  Don’t let your child rack up a huge bill on your credit card! Get them their own iTunes or Google play account without credit card link. Players can play the game just as well without paying for anything. How to turn off “In app purchases” on Apple devices Here:

Pokemon Go also uses Mobile Data whilst you are outside, this may increase data consumption for the month, keep an eye on this in case your child’s data use incurs extra usage fees. Turn off some of the data guzzling apps and background updates. More Here:

Safety Rules

  1. Only download this game from official stores, iTunes & Google Play, there are fake versions already with virus’s.
  2. Sign up alongside your younger child to make sure it all looks suitable
  3. Make sure your children use a pseudonym for their player user name, not their real name, for privacy and safety
  4. No going onto private property, you can stand nearby and still capture your Pokemon
  5. Watch where you are walking, accidents have already occurred playing this!
  6. Be careful that the location you are going to is safe, there are already reports of groups using this game to entrap and rob players.
  7. And….take a backup battery, your phone’s going to run out of juice fast!
  8. Make sure you know the groups your kids are playing with, Facebook group walk? Go with them!
  9. If in the future the game asks you to link any social media accounts or messaging accounts with it… don’t.

Are your kids playing this yet?

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