The Canadian Centre for Child Protection (C3P) wants to make parents aware of some child safety considerations around the game app Pokémon Go. This app uses the device’s GPS and camera to find virtual Pokémon characters everywhere the user goes. The augmented reality game also lets players set lures (shows up as confetti at a Pokéstop) at a given location to attract Pokémon and other users in the area. While many players are adults, the game is also drawing in a new generation of children.
Here are some things to consider to reduce any potential child personal safety risks:
- Try it yourself: Before your child plays the game, download the app yourself to experience the obvious areas of concern during gameplay, such as not paying attention to your immediate environment — cars, bikes, water hazards and other pitfalls. Talk to your child about the benefits and risks with the game.
- Use the Buddy System: Because any player can set lures, there is potential that a person seeking to harm children/youth could exploit this part of the game. There is safety in numbers — the buddy system is critical to reduce victimization. Children of all ages should always go with a safe buddy and depending on their age that will be a parent, sibling, or friend.
- Set boundaries: Set strict physical boundaries around where they can go while playing. It is easy to get caught up in the game and wander a long distance without realizing it. If your child wants to extend those set boundaries, they have to check in first.
- Set time limits: Safety concerns increase if your child’s battery dies while out playing the game. Set a time limit and ensure their phone is fully charged before heading out.
- Keep in contact: Make sure your child has important and emergency contact numbers on his/her phone before they go.
Remind children that if they feel uncomfortable while playing the game, to trust their instincts and leave the situation or stop playing the game. If something goes wrong, or seems weird, including if they make a mistake and do something they know they aren’t supposed to do, reinforce that you will always help them. See more on discussions parents can have with children/youth about staying safe online.