Pokémon Go is still a hugely popular game, even if the trend has died down a little from last summer. New Pokémon have been added, there are frequent events and the summer holidays around the corner. With all that in mind, we thought it would be a good idea to offer a basic guide to our foster carers who are concerned about their foster children and children using the app.
What is Pokémon Go?
Pokemon Go is an app that is based on the popular Pokemon franchise. It’s where the players become trainers, with an aim to collect all the Pokemon they can and get ones that are strongest to help take over gyms. Players need to visit Pokestops to collect Pokeballs and other in-game items and use the balls to collect the Pokémon.
It uses augmented reality so it appears that the Pokémon, Pokestops and Pokegyms appear in real life places. It uses Google Maps, and players are able to track down Pokémon, gyms and stops by looking at the screen and following the map. In order to work it needs to have constant use of the GPS on the phone and the camera if augmented reality is turned on.
What are the Risks?
According to the NSPCC, the risks are as follows:
- This is a social game and many players will come across each other as they play the game in their own towns. There is a chance that they will meet and talk to strangers. Therefore it is important to discuss stranger dangers with the children in your care. You should also encourage the children to inform you where they are going if they are allowed to go out unsupervised.
- There have been a few accidents caused by players not paying attention to their surroundings. Remind children the importance of road safety and being aware of what’s around them when playing the game.
- The game drains batteries very quickly, even when using the battery saving feature in the settings of the app.
- It is possible to spend real money in the game. The in-game purchases start at 99p and go up to £99.99. Remove payment details or add a new password to stop in game purchasing.
- The app will have access to personal data including the email address and date of birth.
Here are a few additional tips on how to enjoy the game and reduce the risks.
- Playing the game together is an excellent way of helping the child remain safe. Download the app on your own phone and spend time walking and exploring your neighbourhood together. Learn where the Pokestops, gyms and Pokémon spawning spots are located.
- Older children might not appreciate you going out with them, but at least you will be aware of where they will be heading. Speak to the children and let them know the risks mentioned above and set some ground rules.
- Provide a battery pack to stop the phone battery losing charge. Portable battery chargers are easily available and don’t cost a lot of money. They are used to recharge the battery on the go. Ensure the battery charger is fully charged before heading out.
- Encourage staying with friends and not separating from the group
Pokémon Go is an excellent game that encourages players to go out, get exercise and explore their area. Understanding the game, discussing the risks and setting a few basic ground rules will help to reduce the risks associated with the app.