7 things to know about Pokemon GO before you head out the door with your kids

Aug 03, 2016 Categories: Tech-Know @ Home

Do your kids play Pokemon GO?

If the answer is ‘I don’t know’, then you need to ask them today (or check out their device for the app).

Pokemon GO is huge right now, and for good reason, it’s fun! There’s a fantastical storyline through the game that, for many young adults, reminds them of the Nintendo GameBoy games they played in their teenage years – there’s a lot of nostalgia in Pokemon GO for some people! For others, this is a relatively new type of game. It’s augmented reality, what you see in the game is the real world, overlaid with fantasy animals and virtual landmarks.

Through my work at university, I’m researching the impact of this type of game on how kids learn, and what motivates them to persist when things get hard. Pokemon GO is based on some software developed for another, very similar game, called Ingress (check it out if you like the idea of Pokemon GO but aren’t into made up creatures – Ingress is based on a much more low-key Sci-Fi story but it’s very similar in other ways).

There are some reports of ‘bad’ things happening within the game. Mainly folks getting distracted and wandering into the road…This is easily avoided!

We need to teach our kids real-world safety as well as online safety – that includes roads and traffic :0) With the hype around Pokemon GO at the moment, I know a lot of parents are being nagged to take their kids out Poke-hunting. I think that’s great – good times for all! Before you head off though, here are the 7 things you need to know to look good in front of your kids this weekend!

  1. Pokemon GO is a virtual reality game that you play but physically going to places in the world. Be prepared to walk!
  2. The game involves finding and ‘catching’ Pokemon. These virtual creatures can fly, walk, crawl and swim, so you need to look for them everywhere. They also appear at different times of the day (fairies only come out at night, don’t you know). They appear in a modified map on your phone screen. When you tap on them your phone camera turns on and you can see the Pokemon located in your actual environment – a bit like a video overlay on the world. Get ready to learn lots of Pokemon names!
  3. Pokemon are sneaky. You catch them by launching ‘Pokeballs’ at them, (flinging virtual balls at them from your phone’s screen and trying to hit them), but sometimes they duck out of the way. Keep trying!
  4. You’ll need ‘supplies’ to play the game and reach higher levels. You can collect everything you’ll need by visiting landmarks in the real world. These are called PokeStops and are where your kids will want to go! In the game they look like giant lollipops on sticks. Be ready to visit new places and to set boundaries about where your kids are allowed to go!
  5. When you get to level 5, you can visit gyms. Here you can virtually battle other Pokemon to score points and control the Gym – all from the screen of your phone. This gives your team extra points and extra supplies. This part of the game is cooperative – and you will need to carefully supervise your kids and explain how to play safely. Remember to discuss cyber-privacy and online safety!
  6. PokemonGo is fun, engaging and motivating for adults and for kids. If your children are young (or young at heart), they will need your guidance and common sense. A big part of this is the fact that as you get further in the game and play collaboratively, you’ll need to be aware that other players can see your location. Of course, they don’t know what you look like in the real world and one way to confuse other players is choosing a player name of the opposite gender (so, if your name is Rachel, call yourself Bob in the game: other players will be looking around them for a guy….). Be ready to talk about this aspect of the game and monitor kid’s use!
  7. Playing this game you will likely exercise more, get outdoors more and visit places in your Neighbourhood you didn’t know existed. PokemonGo is a great family activity and a fun way to get your kids out and walking around. Don’t be afraid to play the game. If you have younger kids, install the app on your phone and be sure to supervise their use. You can maintain control but your kids could use the navigate features to practice location skills while finding new Pokemon, or they could launch PokeBalls at the Pokemon and experience physics and angle and velocity.

There are lots of learning opportunities in the game – Get ready to have fun!

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