Yes, I freely admit that we have gotten caught up in the Pokemon Go craze, and I am not ashamed. I actually have a lot of fun playing with my kids, and it’s a great way to get them out of the house and exploring our city. Many parents I talk to, though, are hesitant to let their kids play because of concerns about safety, etc. Of course you have to decide what is best for your family and your situation, but I have found that Pokemon Go – in moderation – is a fun way to game with kids. Here are some lessons I’ve learned, as well as tips, from other parents.
Pokemon Go: Top Tips for Parents
1. Stay involved: For young children especially (my son is 6), it’s essential that you play with them. Pokemon Go is different than any game we’ve played before, a kind called “augmented reality,” where the game world is layered onto the real world. As you reach new levels, new elements are introduced, so you need to be involved to stay aware of what they are playing – and where they are wandering off to in search of Pokemon.
2. Use common sense safety rules: Because the player is glued to the phone during the game, you have to make sure your child is watching where they are going so they don’t trip and fall or walk out into traffic. You also need to make sure they don’t go into places they aren’t supposed to, either trespassing or going into someplace dangerous like an abandoned building. And we’ve all heard about people being robbed or assaulted because the thieves were counting on the fact that players don’t paying attention to their surroundings while they are playing. The best thing to do is to have them play with someone else – you, if possible – so that someone is always watching out for what is happening in the real world.
3. Make sure you are following the rules, too: Once you know where the Pokestops are, it can be tempting to turn your phone on at a stoplight to get a few more Pokeballs, but make sure you are setting a good example for your kids (and staying safe for your own sake!) by not playing while you are driving or doing anything else that should have your full attention, like crossing the street with your kids.
4. Decide when to play: A friend and I have spent a lot of time discussing this – if you make the rule that your child can only play with you, then expect a lot of demands on your time! Some ideas to make this manageable are 1) let them play while you’re in the car running errands or going to and from school, 2) have a time on the weekends when you play together while taking a walk or playing at the park, and 3) know where the hot spots are in your area and do quick visits once or twice during the week.
Chances are there are Pokestops at your child’s school, the local library, the grocery store, the park, the mall, and so on – basically the main places where people spend their time. For example, there are several Pokestops in the park next to my son’s preschool, so whenever I pick him up we do a quick walk to hit the Pokestops and see if we see any Pokemon.
5. Set a budget: Yes, Pokemon Go is free, but they do have a shop inside the game, so make sure you lay some ground rules about whether you will be making purchases. We established from the beginning that we wouldn’t buy anything, but lo and behold just a few days ago when we reached Level 12 (yay!) our bag suddenly wasn’t big enough to hold the bigger Pokeballs (“great balls”) that we earned when we leveled up.
We managed to figure out a way to free up some space (used up some of the potions and raspberries we had accrued), but a few days later we hit another snag: We didn’t have space to catch any more Pokemon! Unless, of course, we bought additional storage space (grrr!)
I had no idea there would be any limit to how make Pokemon we could “store.” If you can’t catch Pokemon, you basically can’t play, and by the time you get to Level 12, you are committed to playing the game, so they really have you over a barrel. Yes, technically you can earn Pokecoins through the game that you can use to make purchases, but this is really difficult to do at the lower levels, since it’s unlikely you have Pokemon with high enough points to win battles.
So yes, I did decide to make the purchase ($4.99 for 550 Pokecoins, which was more than enough to upgrade my bag and my Pokemon storage), but I was gritting my teeth the whole time, and wondering if there will be any more surprises like this ahead.
Still, I have to say playing Pokemon Go with my kids has been a really fun, positive experience – for them and for me! Do you play with your kids?
Here are some other great tips, crafts, and activities for Pokemon Go:
From Pragmatic Mom: How to Play Pokemon Go with Kids
From My Joy Filled Life: Teaching Kids to Safely Play Pokemon Go
From Something 2 Offer: Safety Tips for Pokemon Go
From Mother Natured: Educational Pokemon Activities
From Kids Craft Room: Pokemon Pebble Craft
From Hattifant: Pokemon Evolution Flextangles