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.
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: