Pokémon Go has become a craze with kids across the Globe. But is it safe?
The game has made headlines across the world for the various risks that it poses for children. It is important to educate ourselves about these risks, so that we can keep our children safe, and still have fun! Here is everything you need to know.
To understand the dangers, we need to know a little bit about the game. Pokémon Go is a mobile gaming app which lets you connect with friends, and collect pocket monsters (Pokémon). But there is a catch! You cannot collect Pokémon from your couch.
To become the very best you must go outdoors, walk around and find poke stops in your local area. Much like a step counter, walking in Pokémon Go means more rewards. This encourages kids to get outside and go explore, but with this comes a host of dangers.
The first and most important of the potential risks for Pokémon Go is physical harm. Its very easy to forget what’s in front of you when you are looking down at a screen. Take extra care when crossing roads, and to avoid bumping into pedestrians. There have also been some unfortunate reports of Pokémon Go being used to lure players into traps. The risk of our children physically harmed should thus be our first concern as parents.
There is a risk that children using Pokémon Go may end up trespassing. Encouraged in part by the game itself, which doesn’t always account for borders or private property. A child could easily cross a real-world boundary, without realising that the game map isn’t the real map. This could get them into legal trouble or put their personal safety at risk.
This is a particular concern if you live near a controlled border, farmland, or a large city centre.
When hunting for Pokémon, our children could end up in an unfamiliar place, or in the dangerous side of town. To catch the best Pokémon, the player must go further and further away from home. Without a parent watching over, it would be easy for a child to become lost. The game also encourages meeting other players during battles and raids. Who knows what strangers they might meet without a trusted adult nearby.
This game offers in-app purchases, allowing the user to buy pokecoins with real money. Kids can then spend their poke funds on in-game items. Such as candy to level up their Pokémon, or new clothes for their avatar. But these virtual items are not cheap. One of the more expansive packs available costs a colossal £79.99! If you set the app up with payment options, your child could end up spending huge amounts of your money in one go. Pokémon Go also requires a lot of mobile data. More data could mean higher costs depending on your data package.
Data & Privacy Risks
Pokémon Go collects various bits of information about our children. Such as their birth date, email address and user ID. The app collects this when you sign up and connect social media accounts (such as Google+). Recently there was controversy about the data Niantic collects from Google. When it was discovered that the app had full access to the players emails, photos and GPS history.
The developers have since apologised for this in an interview with Polygon. Making it clear they had changed the privacy terms. But some parents are not convinced. There is still an issue of trust here, and a risk that our children’s privacy is being intruded upon.
If you worried about data, why not try Pokémon Go Offline?
So is it safe?
This is all starting to sound a bit scary! But don’t worry, by taking the right approach you can make sure that your child is safe whilst playing Pokémon Go. Don’t give up on the app just yet, as it has a range of benefits to offer for physical health, mental health and education.
There are also measures you can put in place to reduce these risks. To learn how to keep our kids safe on Pokémon Go click here.