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Be PokéSafe When Playing Pokémon Go

If you have recently seen someone walking around town looking intensely at the screen of their phone, they are mostly likely playing the hottest new mobile game: Pokémon Go. An augmented reality gaming app, Pokémon Go has successfully bridged the gap between our world and the world of Pokémon creatures. Based on the original handheld Nintendo game, the goal of Pokémon Go is to catch as many Pokémon as you can. Unlike the original game, however, finding Pokémon is no longer restricted to the screen of a Gameboy. Pokémon are everywhere we go in our day-to-day lives, from shopping malls and playgrounds to restaurants and parks – they can even be found inside homes! If a player wants to “catch ‘em all,” they are going to have to get up and go!
While the game fosters interactive outdoor play, there have been numerous reports of players encountering unsafe situations and being involved in dangerous accidents, as well as criminals using the app to lure victims, therefore it is very important to keep safety in mind while playing Pokémon Go. If you are a parent of a child player, to ensure their safety, we recommend parents accompany their children when out playing, however, if you have older children and feel comfortable allowing them to play on their own, discuss the following safety information with them before they go.

Here are a few safety tips for parents and players alike to remember when playing the game:

Keep in Contact

If your child is going out to play Pokémon Go, make sure there is a set time frame of when they will be leaving and coming back home. The game is played exclusively on mobile phones, so there should be no excuses for neglecting to check in for updates or if plans change. Even if you have an older child (or maybe even an eager spouse) outside playing who doesn’t normally check in frequently, it is still a good idea to keep in contact with them while playing, just in case.

Don’t Go Hunting for Pokémon Alone

Just as Ash, Misty, and Brock stuck together while searching for Pokémon, it is always a good idea to use the buddy system while playing the game. Having another player accompany your child (such as an older sibling or a trusted Safe Adult) provides another phone for contacting purposes (Pokémon Go can be a huge drain on your battery), an extra set of eyes for direction, and safety in numbers! Aside from the safety benefits, the game also rewards those who play in groups with rare Pokémon!

The Danger of Nighttime Play

As you may have guessed, some of the game’s most notorious incidents have occurred late at night. The low lighting and sparsely populated areas pose possible dangers such as theft, low visibility, and possible encounters with strangers to players who are hunting in the evening. Although some of the game’s creatures are more likely to spawn at night, there is still a strong possibility that these “rare nighttime Pokémon” can be found and caught during daylight hours. Aside from escaping the summer heat, there is no real advantage to playing “Pokémon Go” after dark.

PokéStop Safety

PokéStops are real life locations where players can gather items that are helpful to them in the game. Businesses, restaurants, and public spaces like libraries are commonly tagged as PokéStops, and some are even set up with “lures” to entice Pokémon (and eager trainers) to come near. Although PokéStop locations are helpful for would-be trainers, some less than savory people have taken advantage of their allure. When visiting a PokéStop, be sure to be aware of your surroundings at all times, do not stop anywhere that is not listed in the actual gameplay as they might be fake, and make sure you’re aware of which PokéStop are within your normal day-to-day travel range, so that you can discuss with your children which of these should be off-limits due to safety concerns.

Do Not Bike/Skateboard/Drive and Play

Distracted driving, regardless of the vehicle, is a bad idea. Even if you are not going very fast, there are still dangers of being in motion and not giving the road or sidewalk your full attention. The game will not allow you to catch Pokémon or gain any type of reward for walking a certain distance when you are traveling over 20mph, so there is no reason to play and drive.

Stay Aware of Your Surroundings

When hunting for Pokémon, you may be tempted to stare intensely at your screen so that you don’t miss a minute of the action. Although the Pokémon Go uses a virtual map to track Pokémon throughout surrounding real-world locations, it is not necessary to constantly watch the screen. The game has a function in which the phone will vibrate when a Pokémon appears. If this feature is on, you are able to leave the phone in a pocket and wait for the vibration. Having this feature turned on can prevent you or your child from walking into objects, tripping and falling, or worse, walking into oncoming traffic.

Stay Where You Belong

Pokémon Go encourages players to explore new (sometimes unfamiliar) areas, so it is important for your children to know when they are and are not allowed to hunt for Pokémon. There have been incidents in which players have been wandering onto private property, strangers’ backyards, and even dangerous workspaces while playing. If a Pikachu, Squirtle or any other creature shows up on the screen, whether the map shows it in the middle of the street or in somebody’s backyard, all a player needs to do in order to catch it is tap on it – there’s no reason to traverse these off-limits areas to capture those creatures.

Have FUN!

Pokémon Go was designed to bring players both young and old together to be a part of the Pokémon universe, while also participating in a healthy outdoor activity. Instead of sending off your children alone to play, download the free app yourself and spend quality time together doing something they enjoy! Follow these safety tips while playing to ensure that you and your children can have the best experience playing.

Happy hatching, trapping, and training in your quest to be a Pokémon Master!

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What They're Saying...

The MBF Child Safety Matters program is impressive. This important information is well formulated and well presented, developmentally appropriate, and based on good understanding of literature.

The MBF Teen Safety Matters curriculum hosts an in-depth approach to important social and safety concerns relevant to youth. The program content is age-appropriate with engaging activities, jargon, and realistic situations to positively promote a relatable and impacting learning experience…Teen Safety Matters is an educational benefit to all parties involved – students, parents, facilitators, and schools.

There’s not a child in the world who can’t benefit from this program. There are so many instances where we see children who have been damaged and hurt. Things happened to them and we think, if they’d only had this program, if they’d only had the benefit of this education, that might not have happened to them. If we can prevent that from happening to a single child, then it’s worth all the effort we have put forth.