In case you missed it, the newest hit mobile app Pokémon Go is now finally available to play in the Philippines. The game is an adaptation of the '90s hit show that tells the story of Ash, a kid who wants to be the greatest Pokémon trainer in the world. He trains a Pokémon to battle other trainers' Pokémons. With the app, we can now all be Pokémon trainers.
Are you with me so far? Good. The basics of the game are simple enough: You walk around to catch Pokémons, and you have to option to upgrade or evolve them into stronger creatures in order to win more battles (whew!). We won't get into details on how to play the game--we highly recommend you play it. Why?
No question about it--your kids will want this game. Wait, who are we kidding? Your husband is probably playing it right now (you probably are as well!). It can be addicting for child and grown-up, so a family meeting is necessary to meet about ground rules that apply to all. Here are some of the things you need to know first.
1. The game needs a Wi-Fi or data connection and GPS. If you want to limit your child's playing time, controlling his phone's access to Wi-Fi or data connection is the way to do it. Just make sure you've discussed with him that it's not an all-access pass or else you will have a fight in your hands. Keep in mind the game does eat up data consumption if you're not on Wi-Fi (let your kids know), and it easily drains the phone's battery. If your child is using his own phone, battery life can be another way of limiting his hours of play.
2. Younger kids need their parents to sign them up. Kids 13 years old and below will need their parents' help and permission to gain access to the game. Parents need to make a Pokémon Trainer account (click here) to register, and then click "Add a Child" to create your child's account. Just fill in the necessary details and then go to the "Pokémon Go Settings" tab and tick the box that says you are allowing your child to play Pokémon Go. With this, you can check his Pokémon Go and Pokémon online game's progress, BUT you won't see when he's online and playing the game. Speaking of control, teens who are old enough to have a Google account can use it as a sign-in option to the app -- they can play it without your permission.
3. Educate your child about stranger danger. While the mechanics of the game are simple, security is an issue. The game has PokéStops, which they can spin (swipe, really) to get free Poké Balls and other essential items. Some of the PokéStops, however, have a "lure" function that attract Pokémons to your child's area, so he and other players could catch them. It's a double-edged sword. On one end, you'd see a bunch of kids playing Pokémon Go together, but it's also possible that it can attract shady individuals to the same place.
Make sure that you've talked to your child about the basics of stranger danger. Make it a habit to ask him about the people he might have run into while playing the game. Reserve over-the-top reactions--you want him talking about his Pokémon adventures, rather than leaving you in the dark. The more you know, the more you can help protect him.
4. Remind your child that safety should always be a priority. The game requires you to get out of the house to go to more PokéStops where there will be Pokémons to catch and get free game items (rather than spend actual money). That's why you'll often here it's good for exercise. But it poses a danger to children who can easily lose focus of his surroundings. Even when he's constantly checking the phone for nearby Pokémons, tell him to put the phone down when crossing the street and to follow safety rules for pedestrians. Under no circumstances is he to enter someone else's backyard even if it's the location of a Pokémon Go Gym, which is where you battle other Pokémons.
5. Play Pokémon with your child! This is the best advice especially if your child is not old enough to go out on his own. Pokémon Go is not perfect, but it can be fun for you both. Some PokéStops and PokéGyms are tagged in interesting places such as a painting by a National Artist, a sculpture on display in a park, or even in an old historic building in a university. While hitting these stops and gyms, you can actually feed your child bits of trivia to expand his knowledge, in exchange for some Pokémon facts, such as what powers the one you just caught has. You both can learn something new thing every day.
My family actually tried it for the first time over the weekend. I let my son use an old phone that doesn't have a SIM card (ergo, no cellular data), so it relies on the data connection provided by tethering to my own or my partner’s mobile phone. This ensures that he is near one of us all the time to be able to play, which addresses the safety and security issues. It can be tiring to walk around for hours, but it's worth the quality time we shared--my son totally enjoyed it. We’re actually planning to visit UP Diliman for next weekend’s Pokémon hunt