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What Parents Should Know About Pokemon Go — the good, the bad, and the very weird

pokemon go what parents should know

pokemon go what parents should knowI’m not usually a fad-y person. 

I never had Beanie Babies. I was the last of my friends to get a Cabbage Patch doll. My own kids have a Wii from 2008, and an Atari 2600.

But, so help me, we love playing Pokemon Go.

April pokemon

Seriously, this game came out at the perfect time. We’re in that mid-summer slump, you know? We’ve been to the pool and hiking and we’ve done all the stuff I pinned (ok, no. But we’ve done all the stuff we’re going to.) And we needed something new to occupy us. This is it. 

messy kitchen sink photo

If he’d just clean my dirty kitchen, that would be awesome…

The Pros:

  • We’re getting out of the house. We’ve been to parks, and headed to downtown Littleton today (if you’re around here, it’s a good place to find the little buggers). We’re talking about other places around the metro we can hunt them down, and making plans for more urban adventures.
  • The game rewards walking. You actually get points for walking, and you find more Pokemon the more you get out. 

rat on sidewalk

  • We’re talking to people. We met several other groups of kids and parents out with their phones, tracking down Pokemon. We swapped tips and gave the kids clues about other places to go.
  • My kids are getting along. Well, sometimes. Sometimes they’re arguing over who gets to catch the Pokemon, but often they’re working together to track down Pokestops and Pokemon characters. They’re all in this game together.
  • It works for all of them. My five-year old has figured out how to play, but we saw kids of all ages, and more than one adult wandering around playing. 

screen shot of player

The Cons: 

  • Safety concerns. There have been plenty of warnings from law enforcement by now. Don’t trespass (you can’t actually go in a church when it’s closed, or, say, your neighbor’s backyard without their permission. Just FYI.) Don’t play while driving. Even playing while walking can be dangerous — it’s easy to trip and fall or walk into things while you’re staring at your phone. My biggest worry is that the kids will forget themselves and run into the street. We actually found our first Pokemon sitting in the middle of the street. You can usually catch them from the sidewalk, but excited kids may not slow down and remember that. And there was at least one report of an armed robbery, where the suspects targeted victims using the Pokemon Go app.
  • Security concerns. When the game first came out, there was a lot of concern about what information the company had access to. It looks like that has been addressed, but be sure to check your privacy settings.
  • It kills your battery crazy-fast. Seriously. Sucks the life out of your phone like the undead. If you’re driving anywhere with the kids to play, make sure you have a car charger. It also uses a ton of data, so be aware of that.
  • In-app purchases. They start at 99 cents and go up to $99. As with any app that allows purchases, make sure you have safeguards in place so the kids can’t go nuts without your permission.

pokemon in tree

And a few sidenotes:

  • People shouldn’t catch Pokemon in the Holocaust Museum. From gravesites to war memorials, there are some highly inappropriate Pokestops out there. I think parents and kids playing the game for fun in their neighborhoods are going to be pretty cool, but it’s still a good time to talk to kids about when and where it’s appropriate to play this, or any, game. 
  • And then there are there the other Pokestops you may not want to bring your kids to — places like adult stores and strip clubs (Shotgun Willie’s is a stop in the game). Just make sure you know where you’re going when you head out. 
  • Perhaps this next story should have gone under “safety concerns,” because this dude? Pulled the most dangerous move ever. I don’t know how anyone survives that. 

What about you? Are you playing with your kids? And if so — where do we go around Denver to get more stuff??? Anyone?