Should Your Child Play Pokémon Go?

It may seem silly, as a full-grown adult woman, to be downloading the latest apps that are trending, but I do it.  Am I trying to stay young and fresh?  No, I’m making educated decisions for my kids.

I downloaded the Pokémon Go app and tried it out myself, and it didn’t take me long to realize this app could lead my kids to make poor decisions.  There is enough these days for our kids to consider and things to derail their thinking, they don’t need another distraction.

Here are my list of concerns with Pokémon Go:

  1. It drains your phone battery – very quickly.  If you are anything like me, you bought your child a phone so they could contact help in an emergency.  At least, that’s what you tell yourself while your pre-teen whines, “But Mo-ooom, everybody at school has a phone!”   Unable to listen to that whining for one more minute, you tell yourself, “If I do this, at least they can get a hold of me in an emergency.”   You wouldn’t want to lie to yourself, now would you?   So, what if I told you I took a 10 minute walk with my dogs, just around my neighborhood, and my battery was almost dead?  Granted it was only charged about 75% when I started my walk, it had dropped to nearly 20% by the time I had sauntered around the block checking for Pokémon’s along the way.  And, I had the battery saver on.  The Battery saver mode is a setting you can choose, however, most people don’t realize that in order for it to kick in, you must hold your phone upside down.  When you do, the screen dims, but you are still making progress in the game.  But what’s the point of the phone if it’s dead?
  2. It uses cellular data.  If the phone isn’t dead, then your kid has used all of your cellular data allowance.  And frankly, that’s just annoying.  If you do decide to let your kids play this game, make sure you have your text notifications on, so you can receive the text two days into your data cycle that let’s you know it all been used up and you are now into overage fees.
  3. Players don’t pay attention to their surroundings.  And neither will your kids.  Honestly, I am a grown woman, and I found it difficult to keep my eyes from checking my phone screen.  While I found my resolve, others may not and kids resolve can be shaky at best.  Since I live in a tourist town, we have lots of places considered hot spots for people to pull in and check out.  But as I drove to work, I found a rather large number of people pulling into my dentist’s parking lot, which is weird because he is on vacation this week.  One glance at my phone showed me the reason for all the hub-bub: a flutter of leaves I’ve been told indicates a rare Pokémon.  With all the people pulled over, I had one burning question in my mind:  How many people weren’t bothering to pull over and attempting to catch the Pokémon from their car, while driving?
  4. The locations of Pokémon are not vetted.  How do the game makers decide which areas to stash these Pokémon?  Or to make a PokéStops and Pokémon Go Gyms?  When I first downloaded the app, I found a Charmander right at the foot of my bed, how cool is that?  While I haven’t seen anymore in my house, I have located a few in places where I don’t want my kids to hangout.  There is a Pokémon Go Gym located at our local beach, which generally would be a good idea.  Who wouldn’t want to relax at the beach and do battle with their Pokémon?  But the location is odd, because it is about a mile from the public access beach, where my town has lifeguards posted.  It is positioned just next to a public bike path which transects a private beach access site owned by a local HOA.  I’m sure they are thrilled by the new influx of non-members onto their beach, as are the bikers, now that their path is blocked by hoards of people on their phone. But you should consider using Offender Locator App along with Pokémon Go, and you’ll see that the house your kid is standing out front of belongs to a registered sex offender.  Apparently, users of the Pokémon Go App can use special items that lure Pokémon to them, instead of having to go out and seek them.  This of course costs money, but what’s a little investment to lure victims to your location?  This has already been used by robbers, that have lured App users to their location, by luring Pokémon to an isolated spot, and then robbing unsuspecting App users.  And just think, all of your victims are carrying their iPhone or Android phone in their hand, making it easy for you to grab.  And remember that Gym located at the private beach?  What is to stop predators from using this App to locate where the kids are hanging out?  No thank you.  This is by far the biggest concern with this game.
  5. Common sense is not common.  When you start the game, it provides a warning that tells the player to please pay attention to their surroundings.  But the news is being littered with people who are doing the exact opposite.  As much as we all like to think that our special little snowflakes are different and those tales of woe could never happen to them, I think those people in the stories thought the same thing.  I don’t want my kid discovering a dead body, or getting robbed at gun point.  I would also hope my kid would know not to go looking for Pokémon at the Holocaust Museum or the 9/11 Memorial in front of our Fire Dept on Main Street, which turned out to be a PokéStop!  So mingled in with those paying their respects to fallen, are giggly kids playing a game?  Where is the reverence for our sacred spots.  There was another story about a guy who lived in an old church, and that the App had chosen his house as a Pokémon Go Gym.  So does this mean that churches could soon be flooded with those not there to worship?  I find that very disrespectful.

We all have to make our own choices when it comes to these things, and of course there are safe ways to use this app and have fun.  When I was a kid, I didn’t need an app to explore my neighborhood.  We were allowed the freedom to explore on our own.  These days, letting your kid play outside can be considered neglect, or at least may garner the attention of the nosy neighbor that will call the authorities on you.  While I’d like to give my kids more freedom to explore their world, I don’t think this  App is the way to do that.

But if you do decide to let them play this game, make sure you monitor it as you would any online and social media interactions.  It may be good for you to know that the App logs the location of all the captured Pokémon.  So, where have your kids been?  Maybe consult with the Pokémon Go app.

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