Teaching Safety Around Pokémon Go

Pokémon Go has been downloaded 30 million times since its release. It’s earned an estimated $35 million, has 21 million active daily users, and has a record 7.2 million downloads. According to app tracking firm Sensor Tower, iPhone owners spend an average of 33 minutes per day using the app.

The app gets kids off the couch and out into fresh air, combating what many believe to be overly digital childhoods. It’s great, but there have been many dangers attached to the craze. 22 percent of Pokémon Go users are between the ages of 13-17. Teens are wandering the streets looking for characters and causing parents a lot of concern around their safety.

Kids can fall prey to those using the game for nefarious purposes. In New York, a sex offender was arrested for playing the game with children. Kids have been led to some questionable areas and police departments have issued warnings around using the app safely.

Apps like this offer a perfect opportunity for parents to sit down with their kids and talk about safety, awareness, and judgement. Users have become detached from the reality around them. Ordinary objects become dangerous obstacles – some reports mention kids walking into trees and parked cars.

In a Good Morning America interview, Callahan Walsh from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said Pokémon Go could be used as a parenting tool for broader safety lessons. It’s important for parents to set boundaries for kids when they’re using interactive apps.

Try starting here:

  • Create a perimeter to their hunting grounds. Parents will then always know where to look for kids and if they aren’t where they should be…another lesson.
  • Discuss “stranger danger” for the first time or revisit this important topic. Kids should understand that saying “No” is okay, and reporting strange contact is a good thing.
  • Employ the buddy system. If a kid wants to play Pokémon Go, they must use the buddy system.
  • Keep them in reality. Even though the interactive app borders on virtual reality, kids still need to be aware of their surroundings. No walking into parked cars or driving into ponds.
  • Never Pokémon Go and drive.
  • Use the app to spend time with kids. The best way to teach safety is to lead by example. Parents might even enjoy the Pokémon hunt as much as kids do.

These innovative tech moments are most certainly important for parents to understand. Most kids treat their smartphones as a second appendage, so understanding the latest app craze is an essential part of being a parent these days. Let your child’s next Pokémon hunt be a parenting moment emphasizing safety.

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