Pokémon Go Poses Risks to Children

Nintendo’s new virtual reality smartphone game “Pokémon Go” has captured the attention of children and parents alike.

The app combines geocaching and virtual reality technology to enable players to search for “Pokémon” in real-life environments, and use their phone’s camera to “catch ‘em all”.

Concern for Children's Safety

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Now that virtual and online applications are encouraging children to perform activities in new locations, often away from safe places and often without the supervision of their parent, we are concerned.

There are a number of potential risks that children face when engaging in this kind of virtual reality, including:

  • Meeting up with strangers
  • Being directed to an unknown and unsafe area
  • Sharing personal information
  • Spending money unknowingly or in excess of what they (or their parents) can afford

The artificial sense of safety children feel because they are in possession of the mobile device presents a challenging teaching obstacle for parents.

We recommend that - should a child be permitted to play Pokémon Go - they follow these 6 safety tips:

  1. Whenever possible have a parent or guardian accompany the child player.
  2. The player should always stay aware of current surroundings. Keep your head up, out of your phone so that you can be aware of any possible risks and/or approaching trouble.
  3. Always have players play in groups. There is safety in numbers.
  4. Player’s should avoid dimly lit and secluded areas.
  5. If unaccompanied, have a parent or guardian be aware of the child’s location and the planned route.
  6. Beware of In-app purchases.

How Pokémon Go Works

Pokémon Go is based off of the popular Japanese anime and video game series, “Pokémon”. The goal of the game, as in the original anime, is for trainers to capture pocket creatures (aka Pokémon), and train them to fight each other.

Players of the new game are instructed to head to local landmarks, known as “Pokéstops”, to collect “Pokéballs” that will help them capture the Pokémon creatures. The app then guides them via a virtual map to search for Pokémon, and instructs players to throw Pokéballs at the Pokémon to capture them.

Once players have captured Pokémon and trained them, they are instructed to head to locations known as “gyms” to battle other captured Pokémon.

Additional Safety Tips and Guides for Parents:

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