Guidelines For Safe Pokémon GO Play

Jul 12, 2016


Released under a week ago, Niantic's Pokémon GO is a phenomenon with 7.5 million users. If you're not familiar with the game, Pokémon GO is a free app similar to geocaching, except the cache are virtual creatures projected onto your phone's camera view. Children and adults alike are caught in the craze, and while the intent is to get people out of their homes and exploring, there are also dangers associated with game play. Here are a few pointers to keep you and your children safe while catching Pokémon on the go:

Buddy System

If you're a parent of a younger child, make Pokémon GO a family affair. My son is four-years-old, so we obviously hunt Pokémon together. In fact, this past weekend, we passed a family on bikes while heading back from a Pokéstop. I nodded in Pokémon solidarity as I passed the father and two sons, heading to the Pokéstop my son and I had just visited. It was the perfect morning for a walk or bike ride, and it was fun coming across another family on the same mission.

If you have a teen, it may be more difficult to convince him that hunting Pokémon with his parents is great family activity; more than likely, he's going to want to go out with his friends. If you are okay with your teen heading out with friends, be sure to have a conversation about safety before he leaves.

Four Missouri teens were arrested for multiple counts of armed robbery, targeting Pokémon GO players at various stops. Remind your teen to be aware of his surroundings, and to gauge the safety of the stop.

Be Aware

The premise of Pokémon GO is to get people off of their couches and exploring their surroundings, so one would assume that people are aware of their surroundings. Not so, as numerous reports of injuries attest.

Common Sense

With Pokéstops placed at landmarks, and Pokémon running amuck, it can be easy to get caught up in the game, forgetting common sense guidelines. That rare Charizard you've been looking for happens to be right over the fence to someone's yard; as much as you may hate to miss out on that capture, you need to respect private property. One unfortunate gentleman in Massachusetts discovered that his home was a Pokémon GO Stop after people began appearing outside his house in numbers:


While Boon Sheridan has a great sense of humor about the unfortunate landmark, other home and business owners may not be as welcoming to people arriving at their properties. Use common sense to decide whether or not to attempt to catch Pokémon or make a Pokéstop when it appears on private property.

Secure Your Information

If you or your child is using a Google account to log into Pokémon GO, you may want to re-register for now. Niantic has said that they're working on fixing a system "glitch" that granted the company full access to the Google accounts of players registering through Google. Until that glitch is fixed, your information is at risk -- emails, Google docs, anything in your Google account -- and you should change your settings immediately.

Have Fun

Most importantly, have fun while playing Pokémon GO, but be safe while you're doing it. I can't say that I'm a dedicated player, but I'm having fun exploring our new town with my son, using Pokémon GO as a catalyst. Now get out there and go explore!