In one way or another, we have probably heard of latest Pokémon Go craze as it takes over smartphones everywhere. One of the great things about this game is that it’s popular amongst both children and adults, creating a great opportunity for parents to engage and play together with their children.
On the flip side, we should remember that this game is not your average smartphone game. It uses a technology known as augmented reality, which is a blend of real life and technology.
Symantec shares some risks in the cyber realm, the real world and the safety of children while playing the game that parents should start taking note of.
As with all apps your children are interested in, download the app and play it yourself to become familiar with what your children will be doing. This way, you can become more informed about the gameplay, and you can talk to your child about how to be safe while using it.
While the purpose of the game is to be social, real-life rules still apply. Tell your kids about stranger-danger. A huge part of the gameplay involves common areas called gyms and Pokéstops, which will attract a good amount of strangers playing the game. You can still encourage your children to interact with new people, but set some guidelines:
- Always make sure they are supervised by a trusted adult when venturing into these public areas.
- If you can’t go with them, or you have an older teen, be sure to have them establish a buddy system and check in with you regularly, as it’s just not safe for anyone of any age to aimlessly wander around unfamiliar areas of town by themselves.
Be Aware of “Lures”
Lures are an item that can be both bought in the game and earned by leveling up to higher levels. The purpose of a Lure is to attract more Pokémon at a Pokéstop.
When a user sets up a Lure at a Pokéstop, other players in the area can see them on the map, alerting them that the location has a surplus of Pokémon. What’s potentially dangerous about these is that anyone can set these up, which could potentially make the game attractive to child predators.
Since this game can send children wandering off to areas unknown, it’s best that they are supervised by a responsible adult, or if old enough, they use the buddy system to play in groups.
If they do wander about their neighborhood in search for these elusive and rare pokemon, lay some ground rules:
- Set limits on where your kids can go without you.
- Limit those areas by setting boundaries in your neighborhood where your kids would normally play.
- If they want to leave those boundaries, be sure to insist that they call you to discuss their plans, such as where they are going, for how long, who they are going with and to check back in when they are done.
If your kids are going to be out on their own, use a location tracking app in case of emergencies. Norton Family Parental Control has apps for both iOS and Android that will track your child’s smartphone in real time with their GPS coordinates on a map.
In App Purchases
This game, like other games does have in-app purchases to buy things like Pokécoins and other various powerups. In this case, it’s probably a good idea to put on parental controls that help control in-app spending.
- For iOS, Apple has a feature called “Ask to Buy“, that will alert you to whenever a family member initiates a new purchase or free download. You are then able to control what they purchase from your own device.
- The Google Play Store has an option to turn on authentication when making in-app purchases. This means that means certain information, like a password, must be entered on your device to make a purchase.
For further information on how to stay cybersafe and still ‘catch ’em all’, please refer to Symantec’s official blog post here.
The Singapore Police Force’s advisory on Pokémon GO game
In light of the launch of Pokémon GO game in Singapore, the Police urge members of the public to always place their personal safety above “catch ’em all”. Please do not endanger your life or personal safety.
Here are 8 things what they want all users and parents to note:
1. Be aware of your personal safety when out looking for Pokémon.
2. You should play in pairs or as a group to ensure your personal safety.
3. Watch where you are walking, be aware of your surroundings and do not walk out into roads without looking.
Related post: 4 Easy Ways To Teach Your Child Road Safety
4. Do not play the game and drive any vehicle or ride any personal mobility device at the same time. You cannot do both safely.
5. Do not trespass onto restricted areas and private properties. Do not take pictures of restricted areas.
6. Be aware that you are potentially sharing data with others; there could be potential criminals who may seek the opportunity to lure victims to their fake “Pokéstops”.
7. Educate your children to stranger-danger at “Pokéstops”.
8. Never reveal your personal information and watch out for fake apps or cheat tools. Cyber criminals can access your personal data to commit fraud or hack into your phone with viruses and malware.