How to Teach Your Kids to Safely Play Pokemon GO
The article is submitted by Amy William, a journalist based in Southern California. As a mother of two, she hopes to use her experience as a parent to help other parents raise their children to be the best that they can be.
Lately, I have been craving some alone time. As a mother of older children, I have had the pleasure of running errands by myself every so often. Don’t get me wrong; I love my kids. However, I also love driving with the radio turned up, belting pop tunes at the top of my lungs with no judgment from the wee beasties sitting in the back seat.
Although, this summer something strange has occurred in my household. Suddenly, all of my children ranging in age from 9 to 18 are willingly piling into our van the minute I mention driving anywhere- even to the grocery store. And it’s not my company or the possibility of picking out this week’s cereal they are seeking.
No, they are merely wanting a ride to aid them on their hunt for elusive Pokémon. My children, along with over 15 million other players, are currently obsessed with the augmented reality app, Pokémon GO. Within a matter of days of downloading this game, my household and countless others, were suddenly renewing their love for all things Pokémon.
Pokémon GO’s Impact On Our Kids
This app appears to be just a videogame, but some amazing things start to happen when our children begin playing that can’t be compared to other video games. Suddenly, our kids are excited about exercising as they pound miles of pavement trying to hatch eggs or visit the local Poké stops. The increased mobility is wonderful, but this app is influencing kids in some outstanding ways.
In a unique twist, suddenly a game is inspiring a sense of community and unity among players. People are talking and connecting as they explore our communities. This camaraderie has been especially beneficial for children and users who may struggle socially. Many people who suffer from depression, anxiety, autism, or other special needs are crediting Pokémon GO for creating a new found ability to interact in unfamiliar situations.
As our sons and daughters trade in their consoles to pursue Pokémon they might stumble into scary situations they aren’t equipped to handle making. There are documented accidents caused by players focusing on screens instead of their surroundings. Some criminals and pedophiles are also taking advantage of the game to easily find new victims. These reasons make it essential we teach our kids to safely play Pokémon GO.
The Do’s and Don’ts for Safely Playing Pokémon GO
Thankfully, the following strategies can offer us a little reassurance and help teach our kids to safely play Pokémon GO:
DO play the game in pairs or as a family. For safety reasons, encourage kids to use the buddy system at all times and avoid playing alone. If you choose to play as a family, you can take advantage of the extra bonding times, even if it invades your personal excursions to grab a gallon of milk.
DO stress politeness. Good manners are valuable and can help keep conflicts from escalating into dangerous situations. Tell children to stick to public areas, avoid private property, and always be respectful of others.
DON’T wear dark clothing or play after dark. We want our children to be highly visible for drivers to lessen the likelihood they will become an accident victim. They should wear white or bright colors to make them more visible to drivers and be home before the dusk.
DO clearly set boundaries where children can walk. Map out the areas a child has permission to frequent so they can stay in safe areas near home.
DO request kids keep us informed and check in frequently. This is especially needed for older children. Ask them for their plans and routes. For added security, give them an emergency battery charger in case their phone dies. This will ensure they can always touch base with us if needed.
DO demonstrate ways to be alert and aware of their surroundings. Teach children to carry phones in their pockets or hands so they can feel the device vibrate when a Pokémon is close by so they can watch where they are going. Also, have them stop on sidewalks, avoid busy roadways, and keep away from secluded areas.
DON’T operate a vehicle if you are playing Pokémon GO. Older children might be tempted to drive around in their efforts to “catch ’em all”. Encourage them to park before playing, take advantage of public transportation, or use a designated driver.
How does your family keep kids safe while playing Pokémon GO?
AUTHOR: Amy Williams is a journalist based in Southern California. As a mother of two, she hopes to use her experience as a parent to help other parents raise their children to be the best that they can be. Follow her on Twitter @AmyKWilliams1.
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