This past week, parents and young people alike may have been hearing about a new mobile gaming craze called Pokemon GO. The app utilizes augmented reality technology which encourages players to explore the real world, finding animated creatures called Pokemon in real world spaces. There are 150 monsters in the game to collect and train and some may only be found in site-specific locations (ie: fish Pokemon exist by canals and lakes while bat Pokemon appear primarily at night).
Ottawa Police Services have recently tweeted about the importance of being aware of your surroundings to prevent theft and even the Ontario Provincial Police have warned about potential safety risks involved with becoming too involved with the game. As such, I thought I would help to inform parents whose children may be playing the game and provide some tips for staying safe while “catching them all”.
The game itself motivates its players – whether it be youngsters experiencing the Nintendo brand for the first time or young adults in their 20s reliving the nostalgia from their youth of the now 20 year old franchise – to get up and GO from their living room. In this sense, many parents may find solace in their children getting exercise over this summer vacation albeit still playing video games.
However, as with any new technologies, there lurks the fear of the unknown as to what dangers and challenges this new game may pose. And with the vast numbers of players, there is no surprise why.
To quote the game’s creators, Nintendo: “It’s dangerous to go alone.”
If you are a parent, I encourage you to stay informed with your child regarding their play habits – use it as a way to spend quality time together whilst ensuring their safety and remember to make sure that younger children learn about the dangers that not being aware of their surroundings might pose.
- Always put the phone down before crossing any street and be aware of your surroundings
- Avoid going inside professional landmark locations or “poke-stops” and always be cautious before going out at night
- Groups of varying ages often conglomerate around hotspots, sometimes by accident. Remember to warn young children of the dangers of talking to strangers
- NEVER attempt to drive/ride your bicycle while using the app. Pikachu can wait.
- If you see suspicious activity in your neighbourhood regarding people with their phones out, be aware that they may simply be playing the game
- Likewise, night excursions in groups have been a popular theme as well this past week and residents should be vigilant that activity remains safe and healthy. Any concerns can be reported to the non-emergency police number, 613-236-1222 ext 7300
There is immense potential for a game of this nature to encourage physical activity in our youth however, as with all things, it is important to stay informed with your children’s ongoings as communication for new technologies is essential.
Hope you have a great, healthy and safe summer!