Tips For Keeping Kids Safe As They Play Pokémon Go

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If your kids aren’t already playing Pokémon Go, chances are they will be soon.

This hugely popular smartphone game gets users walking around outside in order to “catch ’em all.” But what are they catching, anyway?

Pokémon, of course!

This augmented reality game requires players to physically move their bodies in order to move around an avatar. As they walk along a real map (think Google Maps) placed on a make-believe world, users try to catch as many of Pokémon as they can. Along the way, players can find useful items at “Pokéstops.” These Pokéstops happen to be actual landmarks within communities — churches, schools, parks, etc. Finally, users battle their Pokémon against other users’ to take over “gyms,” which are also local landmarks.

Now that you get the general concept of the game, it’s important for parents to know — and help prevent — a few safety issues Pokémon Go is posing to kids.

Because Pokémon Go players are drawn to Pokéstops to find items, these landmarks have already been targeted by criminals to rob unsuspecting players. In fact, a group of four teens in Missouri was recently arrested for doing just this. And they were armed robberies at that.

Another concerning side effect of this game is that kids are so preoccupied with finding these fictional creatures, they aren’t paying attention to their surroundings. Reports of rolled ankles, bumps and bruises are on the rise from distracted people walking and even riding bicycles while playing the game.

If your child has already been sucked into the Pokémon Go craze, here are a few talking points in order to help keep them safe:

  1. Remind kids to be aware of their surroundings. Walking around while not paying full attention to your surroundings is basically begging for a distracted accident.
  2. Don’t allow younger kids to walk around playing the game unsupervised. Go on a family walk, or go to a park with your child if he/she wants to search for Pokémon.
  3. Urge your older child/teen to walk around with friends while playing the game. That way, they are less likely to become victims of a crime — or walk into a tree because they weren’t paying attention.
  4. Prepare for the elements. If kids are going to be outside for extended periods of time, don’t forget the sun screen and remind them to take frequent water breaks. Make it a point to check the weather before heading out to catch Pokémon, too.
  5. Make it a rule to never play this game while on a bike. This is a broken bone — or worse, riding out in front of a car — waiting to happen.
  6. Don’t play Pokémon Go and drive. Likewise, let your teen know it is not safe or acceptable to play Pokémon Go while behind the wheel.
  7. Stress the importance of not trespassing on private property. Trying to enter locked buildings, or even lingering for too long near people’s houses and businesses for the sake of Pokémon can all lead to trouble.

By following these simple safety measures, parents can help kids stay safe and have fun while playing Pokémon Go during these last few weeks of summer vacation.

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