Pokémon Go - a parents' guide
Tips and advice for keeping children safe on Pokémon Go.
It seems like the world has gone crazy for Pokémon Go, with news of its popularity in America, Australia and other countries. And now it’s launched in the UK. It can be a lot of fun for people of all ages, and we’re here to take you through what you need to know about the game and how you can help keep children safe, when using the app.
Pokémon Go is a game where you collect and trade cute creatures called Pokémon (Pocket Monsters). It's one of the first popular games to use augmented reality - a cross between real life and an online world. The game makes it look like Pokémon appear in real life places by using the GPS and camera on your phone.
Pokémon Go explained
Pokémon (Pocket Monsters) are little creatures that can be captured by Pokémon Trainers using a small spherical device called a Poké Ball. There are different types of Pokémon, with different moves, abilities and stats. The aim of the game is to capture as many Pokémon and to win as many 'gyms' as you can, to become the Pokémon Master.
Pokémon Gyms are buildings located throughout the world, where Pokémon Trainers can train and compete. Pokémon Gyms are usually located in public meeting spots, like parks, or churches and memorials. This is done using a Google-style in-game map that shows you where the Pokémon and gyms are in your real life location.
The Poké Ball is a spherical device used to capture Pokémon. The Poké Ball is thrown at Pokémon and when it hits them, the Pokémon are sucked inside.
Pokédex is an electronic device which stores the data of Pokémon once they're captured. The Pokémon Trainer must attempt to fill the Pokédex by capturing the different types of Pokémon.
Pokémon Go: a parent's guide
- Talk and agree some ground rules
Areas to look out for:
Meeting people they don’t know- face to face. The game is designed to bring people, usually strangers together. So you never know who your kids might meet. Talk to your children about the risks of this and agree some ground rules. Like they need to be with friends. Or they only play in certain areas. Or for younger children, they only play with you.
Another risk is physical. Firstly, from constantly looking at the phone, they might not be looking where they’re going. They need to be careful of their surroundings, and probably not go out at night. But they also need to be careful of where they end up. There are already stories of people being lured to undesirable places for children. That’s why setting some geographical boundaries is important.
You might also want to agree what name they sign up as, so that people don’t know who they are.
- Explore together
Talk to your children about what they’re doing online, what games they’re using and the risks they might face. Be active and interested. Get to know the game by playing it with them so you know what they have access to.
With younger kids you might want to play the game together, and explore how it works. With older kids you need to know the risks they might face.
- Manage the technical stuff
Location tracking /GPS – Pokémon Go uses location tracking. If you’re worried about the company knowing who your child is by their account details, you might not want to use this app. You can turn off the location services in your child’s phone settings for certain apps, but Pokémon Go won’t work without location services enabled.
In app purchases - There are in app purchases, game coins, and other incentives to level up - one purchase is listed at $159.99. You can set Pokémon Go up without payment options, so you won’t get any nasty surpises. Find out more about unexpected charges.
Mobile data - Pokémon Go uses mobile data when you’re not connected to wifi, so keep an eye on your child’s data usage to avoid extra usage fees. You can set a limit on the phone to stop them going over.
Viruses and hacks - Like Minecraft, illegal versions will spring up to entice people to get extras. Only download the game from official stores - iTunes and Google Play. There are fake versions already out there with viruses. Make sure anti-virus is up to date, and that downloads are authenticated.