The new video game "Pokemon Go" has officially taken over my household.
My husband and children have been out each night exploring, walking, and catching silly Pokemon creatures together.
While I normally scoff at video games, Pokemon Go has encouraged my whole family to be more active and visit interesting landmarks in the community. (My dogs love all of the extra walks, too!)
However, because of the active and social nature of this game, there are certain safety risks that should be considered.
Here are some tips to keep your kids safe while they play this fun new game.
1. Play the game with a trusted adult.
Because this game is so popular among both young people and adults, your child will encounter many strangers while visiting "Pokestops" and "Pokegyms". While that is part of the fun, it's important for children to be accompanied by a trusted adult while playing.
Even teenagers will benefit from playing with others. Not only is it safer to play with friends, but the game is set up to be more fun and to reward those who work together.
2. Be alert.
Encourage your child to stay alert while playing, rather than keeping their eyes glued to the screen. Similar to texting and driving, kids can get hurt while they are wandering around and distracted by the augmented reality of this game.
If you're playing with your children, it's important to lead by example and not play while driving.
3. Stay on public property and in appropriate places.
Remind your child that they should only catch Pokemon in appropriate places. They should not trespass on private property to catch a Pokemon and they should avoid solemn places like memorials and cemeteries.
4. Watch costs & data usage.
Parents should understand that the more characters you catch in Pokemon, the higher the cost is to train and store those characters. While you can win "PokeCoins" while playing, catching more Pokemon might lead you to purchase some "PokeCoins" with real money.
In addition, be aware that the GPS required for the game will use a lot of data.
5. Protect your identity.
Creating a "Pokemon GO" account using your Google account may lead to your real name being your user ID. You want to avoid this because your user ID is displayed publicly in the game. Instead, create an account in the app and choose a fictional username. You can also change your username in the app.