What parents need to know about Pokémon GO mobile game

Launched in 2016 with over 500 million downloads in the first two months, Pokémon GO became one of the most successful game apps. So, to help parents get a better understanding of this game, we have outlined the key information you will need to know.

What is Pokémon GO and how does it work?

A part of the Pokémon franchise, Pokémon GO is a popular augmented reality game with the aim for players to use GPS-location based settings to catch and train Pokémon characters.
As you move around, different types of Pokémon will appear depending on where you are and what time it is. The idea is to encourage you to travel around the real world to catch Pokémons.

What is the age rating?

  • The app has a PEGI 7+ rating for mild violence against fantasy characters. Users can engage the cartoon, fantasy characters in Gym battles, which involves two of them sending waves and elements between each other
  • A rating of 9+ on both Google Play Store and the Apple App Store
  • A ‘For all ages’ rating on the Galaxy Store

Why is Pokémon GO so popular?

It’s free to download and it is a great app for Pokémon fans to play together as is based on the popular Pokémon series of the late 1990s. And because of this, the game is also popular among original adult Pokémon fans as it offers a sense of nostalgia. For kids, the game is popular due to its interactive augmented reality nature, which is a great way to get them moving instead of traditionally sitting in front of their devices.

Concerns surrounding Pokémon GO with helpful tips

Stranger danger

Using location-based (GPS) technology, the app actively encourages users to have social interactions in the real world which are great.

Children may unknowingly be exposed to people who may pose a danger to them. With this in mind, it is important to reinforce to children that they should never meet someone they don’t know offline. And to agree boundaries with them of where they can go or should avoid.

Safety outdoors (i.e. crossing roads, other people’s property)

As the app requires you to focus on your phone to play the game there is the potential that players may be distracted when crossing roads or put themselves in harm’s way to capture Pokémon in different areas.

Simply dimming the screen and using the vibrate option to alert players to the presence of other Pokémon will help them keep themselves safe while playing the game on the go.

Another great tip for iPhone users is for both parent and child to use the same iCloud account. This will enable parents to use the iPhone app to see where they are using GPS on their phones.

In-app purchases

Although the game is free, like many other games it features in-app purchases to purchase ‘Pokécoins’.

To make sure you don’t receive an unexpected bill at the end of the month, review your app permissions. See our parental control for ‘Pokémon GO and iOS and Android devices for further info.

Mobile data use

As you’re the likely bill payer, it’s important you understand that the app requires constant GPS tracking, and it may eat up mobile data quite quickly, which can be expensive. If your child is on a pay-as-you-go (PAYG), it’s easier to regulate and limit how much your child is using the phone.

If your child is on a contract, it might be easier for your child to run up high bills. Although most network providers would set limits on usage if you asked them to so your child won’t run up high bills. Check out our Online money management guide for further tips.

Click here to see another tip that could save on your data that involves using Google Maps offline.

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