Gotta Stay Safe to Catch ‘Em All:

A Guide to Pokémon Go For Parents and Guardians


By: Mónica Marie Zorrilla
a Kristi House volunteer


Starting in 1995, kids from across the globe became acquainted with hundreds of feisty and ferociously adorable pocket monsters (or Pokémon) through their handheld Nintendo consoles. Children of all genders and points in the world were united in an addictive knack for capturing and training Pokémon at their literal fingertips, leading them to strut their stuff in pixelated Gyms or with their friends during card-playing sessions. Charmander, Bulbasaur, Squirtle, and of course, the endearing electric mouse Pikachu, became household names.

Twenty years later, the Pokémon universe has expanded beyond its plethora of decks, video games, and even full-length feature animated movies to its latest (and most advanced) triumph: Pokémon Go. Utilizing augmented reality, the kids of today’s generation and the young-at-heart can be seen roaming the streets staring down at their phones, hoping to “catch ‘em all” in the process. Pokemania is both emotionally and physically brought to life with the game by imitating the presence of  bug, dark, dragon, electric, fighting, fire, flying, ghost, grass, ground, normal, poison, psychic, rock, steel, AND water types on your iOS or Android’s screen through its built-in GPS navigational system, clock, and camera.

The game sneakily promotes and motivates exercise, as it encourages walking through tourist attractions, parks, malls, and campuses to find up-to 151 species of pocket monster through the free phone app. It also forces you to check-in at certain Poke Stops to collect important items that can aid young Trainers in leveling up and evolving their Pokémon.

So, what’s the problem? Like all social games and applications that include elements of meet-ups and real-world adventuring, players (particularly minors), are at the risk of being caught in vulnerable and predatory situations. Often inattentive to their surroundings when focused on the game, kids can be oblivious to who is aware that they are playing, or where their next move will be in order to advance as Trainers. It has already been reported that children in Missouri have been robbed by being lured into PokeStops and Gyms.[1]

As a legal guardian, parent, or older sibling, it is important to stay wary of the fads and the trends that your young loved ones are exposed to, especially those with dangerous potentials. The following are tips to keep informed, and to set ground-rules for your children:


  1. Limiting when and where they can go. Setting boundaries in areas that your children are familiar with allows you to have some control and knowledge over their adventuring. Downloading applications like Life360 or the Find My Friends app on your own smartphone to monitor your kid’s moves could also be beneficial to both parties involved.
  2. Support a buddy or play-date system, so that your child can always have a friend (or multiple friends) with them at all times.
  3. Adult supervision! If your family is located in areas that are more metropolitan and urbanized, it is a must that a responsible adult tags along with children that are playing the game. The more of a hot-spot a location is, the more Poke Stops or Gyms you can expect to pop-up on your child’s screen. In their frenzy, they may be clueless about incoming traffic, crowds, or possibly suspicious persons nearby. This way, you can get involved too, as the game is entertaining for all-ages!
  4. Remind kids about basic street safety rules, such as looking both ways when crossing a street and not walking near or to a busy intersection. Vigilance is key.
  5. Stranger danger! People can include beacons to Poke Stops that make the locations in which they are placed even more enticing. Your children should be notified every time they go out to play with their friends that they need to be cautious of whomever they meet at these Poke Stops, even if they “seem nice” or are “kids too.”
  6. Make sure their cellphones are completely charged before heading out. The mobile application drains battery life, and it is crucial that your kids have a way of communicating with your or with any authority figure in case of an emergency.
  7. Although Pokémon Go’s playtime does not let the fun end at sundown, do not let your children under any circumstances play the game at night without a responsible adult providing whatever transportation or surveillance necessary.
  8. They do not need to enter buildings in order to catch a monster.
  9. It’s just a game! Remind your kids that their lives and their safety are much more important than filling up a Pokédex (even if they may be too obsessed to think so)!


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