Should I Let My Child Play Pokemon Go? A techie mom's guide for parents. The verdict is: Pokemon Go, No GO.
Back when I was a teenager, I watched Pokemon the anime every Saturday morning with my sister. I've played my fair share of Pokemon games, first in high school with a Game Boy and more recently with a Nintendo DS. Pokemon Go recently came out for iOS and Android, and you'd think this Pokemon fan here would quickly download the free Pokemon Go app and start catching them all! Augmented reality, here I come? Nope. I refuse to give into the hype and be one of the millions who will suffer server down time, eyes-glued-to-the-screen syndrome, and potential accidents from being too addicted to the app.
No true benefit to physical and mental health proven yet...
Parents out there, you may hear that there are potential health and mental health benefits to the Pokemon Go app, but please don't believe in that hype. The app just came out and there are no experimental studies to prove that the app is beneficial to health. On the other hand, we already see how "bad people" can exploit the GPS and the addictiveness of this app.
Danger appears to lurk within the app...
In Missouri, there's been a string of armed robberies and the police suspect that robbers used the Pokemon Go app to target their victims. "Police believe they used the game to, "add a beacon to a pokestop to lure more players" and then "used the app to locate victims." Imagine how easy it would be for pedophiles and kidnappers to target children using the same features of this app. Personally, I would not be comfortable if my child's addicted to Pokemon Go and plays it without my supervision. Luckily for now, Phil is only interested in home videos and Youtube on our devices, and nothing else. He also does not get to use any devices on his own.
Addictiveness and Accidents...
Pokemon Go encourages players to explore their real world neighborhoods and landmarks to catch digital creatures. Imagine a child engrossed with the app, rushing across the street at a busy intersection to catch a Pokemon, or falling into ditches and holes. Or imagine children sneaking out of the house at night to catch Pokemon, or sneaking out of school to catch Pokemon!
Dangerous accidents have happened already. Just read it in the news. You'll learn about twisted ankles, wipe outs, and potential driving accidents. New York Post says that "playing Pokemon Go is becoming dangerous." And potentially intrusive! Some Poke-Stops are police stations, the White House, and some stranger's home!
Redeeming factors? What parents should do if their children play Pokemon Go.
Now before the haters pounce on me, I will say that I do believe that Pokemon Go could foster a child's imagination and make them feel like real-life Pokemon. There's a sense of magic in catching all these beloved virtual creatures while exploring the real world. Children are encouraged to walk outdoors, discover new landmarks in their towns (a Missouri teen even found a dead body in a river during a Pokemon Go adventure!), and soon, socialize with friends. Parents, if your child wishes to play Pokemon Go, allow them to play under your careful supervision. Set time limits. Always go with them on their outdoor Pokemon Go adventures and catch Pokemon together. Be savvy and know your environment. Stay alert, and be aware of your surroundings. Encourage other outdoor activities and fun and safer hobbies to divert your child's attention from the app, and to prevent addiction. Play only during broad daylight, and avoid abandoned and dangerous sites...
No child should play Pokemon Go without adult supervision. And hopefully, that adult isn't a Pokemon Go addict!
UPDATE! Security Issue and Privacy Risks!
July 11th, 2016: My husband just warned me that if I did cave in and download the app to immediately delete the app and revoke its "full access" to my Google account, in case I signed up with Google. Check if Pokemon Go has full access to your Google account here: https://security.google.com/settings/security/permissions?pli=1
What does that mean, you ask? Well it means that people who work on the app can read all your emails, send emails as you, check out all your pictures, see what you have searched for on Google, access your Google docs, make friends as you on Google Plus, and more! If you have a Youtube account tied to the Google account, and Adsense, Analytics, and Adwords (like me) you just gave Pokemon Go and Niantic FULL ACCOUNT ACCESS to all of that and more!
The app does not give any warning of taking full access to our Google account, nor does it ask for your permission. Shady much, Niantic? So if you have to play, sign up for a Pokemon Go Trainer account with Pokemon, and not with your Google accounts!!!
Parents, what are your takes on Pokemon Go and other augmented reality games and apps?