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A parent's guide to Pokémon Go

Want to know what all the fuss is about and how to ensure you and your kids can enjoy Pokémon Go safely?

Pokémon Go is the latest game craze to sweep the world and has left many parents scratching their heads to understand what it all means. The game can be a great way for you to have fun with your family. Check out our simple guide on how to play Pokémon Go  safely.

What is it?

Pokémon Go is a free-to-play mobile app that you can download for iOS orAndroid. It’s free to download and start playing, but you have the option to use real money to buy in-game currency called PokéCoins.  You need to decide ahead of time whether you’re going to allow your child to buy things in the game: if you are, you can either buy a gift card or make sure you’ve turned off in-app permissions to make sure they stick to the limit you set. You don’t have to spend real money, but that means you need to pay with your time and energy which is a fun way to get some exercise with your child!  PokéCoins are used to purchase Pokéballs, the in-game item you need to be able to catch Pokémon. If you allow your children to make purchases, you will be looking at between $0.99 for 100 PokéCoins and up to $99.99 for 14,500. Pokémon Go also uses a lot of data, make sure you’re aware of how much data use will cost you and set a time limit.

How to get the game?

Like most apps, Pokémon Go collects data about users, in particular their GPS location at any given time. If you do allow your child to play the game, it’s important to make sure you’ve downloaded the real version from the iStore or Google Play store: at least one fake version has been found that includes malware. If older children are playing it while using social networks, remind them not to post any Pokémon finds that reveal their location until they’re back home. The game works by using your real-world location and augmented reality to bring up Pokémon on the screen, overlaid on top of what you see in front of you. And you—the digital you—can be customized with clothing, a faction (or “team” of players you can join) and other options.

How to Play

Pokémon Go is an augmented reality game using a smartphone (camera + GPS) where players use motion forward, such as walking, to move their avatar in the game and catch “Pokémon” as you go.  Poke stops are small landmarks in the real world that are noted in game with a sign (like the entrance to tennis court). By swiping to either side of screen and making the sign spin, you can receive items such as Poke balls, Pokémon eggs and potions. To hatch Pokémon eggs you have to walk or bike a certain distance in real life. The game uses 2, 5 and 10 Kilometres. The concept is fun, family friendly; the battles are cartoon “Pokémon” style battles.  It is a fun game that takes kids (and adult) outside or one that they can play on the move.  Players look for PokéStops and Pokémon gyms which are usually at meeting places and attractions.  While the game is *free*, there is in-app purchases that parents need to be aware of.

Pokémon Go explained

  1. Pokémon (Pocket Monsters) are little creatures that can be captured by Pokémon Trainers using a small spherical device called a Poké Ball. There are different types of Pokémon, with different moves, abilities and stats. The aim of the game is to capture as many Pokémon and to win as many 'gyms' as you can to become the Pokémon Master.
  2. Pokémon Gyms.Pokémon Gyms are buildings located throughout the world where Pokémon Trainers can train and compete. Pokémon Gyms are usually located in public meeting spots, like parks or churches and memorials. This is done using a Google-style in-game map that shows you where the Pokémon and locations are in your real life location.
  3. Poké Ball.The Poké Ball is a spherical device used to capture Pokémon. The Poké Ball is thrown at Pokémon and when it hits them, the Pokémon are sucked inside.
  4. Pokédex.Pokédex is an electronic device which stores the data of Pokémon once they're captured. The Pokémon Trainer must attempt to fill the Pokédex by capturing the different types of Pokémon.

Staying Safe

  • If you let younger children play, come with them – it can be a great excuse for a walk to the park or a visit to a museum. You can also set strict limits about how far they’re allowed to range, as you would with other outdoor activities.
  • Ask older children exactly where they plan to go and make sure they’re familiar with how to get there and back. Warn them about any areas to avoid, and tell them to keep a close eye on their battery (the game is reported to use a lot of power) so they don’t wind up unable to contact you.

 Set some ground rules

It is always best to accompany your children and to also talk to them about the risks of meeting strangers and ending up in areas they don't know. Set some boundaries such as:

  • Take a battery pack, the game drains phone battery and this will avoid them getting lost without a phone.
  • Stay with friends.
  • Watch out for others - people can get competitive!
  • Establish where  and for how long they are allowed to play.
  • To avoid unexpected bills, check that your child's app permissions are set correctly.
  1. Apple products: 

Set up Family sharing and  Ask to Buy which allows your child to request to purchase before it comes to you for approval.

Find this on: Settings > iCloud > Family and tap your family member's name, before tapping Ask to Buy.

        2. Android: 

Set up a family group which includes adding a payment method with your chosen payee.

Find this on: Subscribe > Family > Set up family > Get started

Turn off in-app purchasing (Tab content hidden)

Protect your child's personal data ( Tab content expanded)

In order to sign up, your child has to enter their date of birth and their email address.

However, parents can request that these details are kept safe. Details on how to do this are on their privacy policy

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