Play Right: Getting Out and Playing Pokemon GO

Pokemon GOAt New Jammies we like to keep abreast of pop culture. So the extreme popularity of Pokémon GO has us curious, which of course means we have questions.

Luckily we found the answers. And more.

What exactly is Pokémon GO?

According to Pokémon GO info on pokemon.com, the latest trend in smartphone apps for iPhone and Android is built on Niantic’s Real World Gaming Platform. The free game can be set up for single or multi-player use, and features real locations to encourage players to “search far and wide in the real world to discover Pokémon.” Users travel between the real and virtual worlds of Pokémon to find and catch more than 100 species of Pokémon while exploring their surroundings.

“As you move around, your smartphone will vibrate to let you know you’re near a Pokémon. Once you’ve encountered a Pokémon, take aim on your smartphone’s touch screen and throw a Poké Ball to catch it. Be careful when you try to catch it, or it might run away!” says the pokemon.com site. “Also look for PokéStops located at interesting places, such as public art installations, historical markers, and monuments, where you can collect more Poké Balls and other items.”

Can kids play Pokémon Go?

Pokémon Go is geared toward users 13 years old and older, however parents can add younger kids to their parental account if they want to play along, says a special USA Today report on tips for parents of Pokémon Go kids, by Jinny Gudmundsen.

Pokemon GO screen“The game has a number of positives, such as encouraging people to walk, explore their surroundings and meet new people. But for children, there are risks as well.”

The USA Today story lists five key points parents should know about the popular game, including that it can lead kids to private property. Some people grieving at cemeteries have also had issues with respect when playing.

“Parents can use Pokémon Go as a teachable moment to explain why some areas — even those that have Pokémon hiding within them — can’t be reached. Most young kids don’t know about trespassing, so this is a good time to explain the concept,” Gudmundsen writes.

How can kids be safe while playing Pokémon GO?

Gudmundsen also warns parents stranger danger is the real deal.

“Part of what makes this game fun is that it is social,” she says. “You are out in the world, looking for things. Loads of other people are playing it at the same time, and since there is a geocaching element — certain Pokémon are found at specific locations, as are Pokéstops and gyms — a camaraderie arises out of meeting others looking for the same thing as you. Most people enthusiastically share what they know. And since the game is vague on a lot of specifics of how to play, this sharing is crucial to your enjoyment.”

Not all user’s motives can be trusted, the report warns, as there have been robberies associated with the game. Also, in Indiana, there was an arrest of a pedophile playing the game with kids outside a Hoosier courthouse. Gudmundsen suggests parents supervise younger children while they play by joining in, or having them play in adult-managed groups.

“For teens, have them play with a friend, and impose other rules (such as not playing late at night or at remote places). All kids need to be reminded to never give personal information to strangers,” she writes.

Pokemon GO PlusThe distracted walking danger is mentioned in USA Today’s tips (read full story here), so parents may be relieved to learn that in late July, the Pokémon GO Plus is being offered. The portable device enables players to enjoy the game and not have to look down at their smartphones so they walk into a pole or fall into a fountain. Or worse yet, cause a traffic accident.

Pokémon GO Plus connects directly to a smartphone via Bluetooth and notifies the player about events in the game — such as the appearance of a Pokémon nearby — using an LED and vibration, says the product’s description. In addition, players can catch Pokémon or perform other simple actions by pressing the button on the device, according to the Pokémon GO informational page.

For additional details about Pokémon GO, visit the offical website at http://www.pokemongo.com/en-us.