Pokemon Go, the mobile game that's pulling kids ... and countless other enthusiasts ... outside this summer, has a lot going for it. The game, which involves hunting for virtual Pokemon characters hidden in real locations, requires players to explore their communities and meet new people. In fact, the Durham Bulls Athletic Park is open all day today for play among its stands, seats and field.
But, just like with anything, there always are a few risks. While most of the app's fans are having a blast, there are more than a few reports of Pokemon Go-related car accidents, injuries and crime. If your kids can't get enough of the game, here are some things to know.
Play with parents and friends: Any kid on the internet should know to never share personal information with somebody they met online. But Pokemon Go is different since players actually meet each other in real life, often in unfamiliar settings. And, teamwork is part of the game. So, in many cases, players will connect with strangers in actual locations. Of course, most of the people that kids will meet up with are other enthusiastic Pokemon Go fans, but players of all ages need to be aware that these strangers might not have their best interests in mind. It's always best to play with a group that includes friends and a responsible adult, who can keep an eye on anybody they encounter.
Don't forget to look up: You need to be looking at your phone to play. But don't get too caught up in that virtual reality as you're actually wandering around the real world. Play often takes place in busy areas like downtown Raleigh or local malls. Be sure that you and your kids are looking up from time to time so you don't walk out into traffic or into a tree or bump into a gaggle of other people playing Pokemon Go.
Never drive and play: If you have teen drivers who are caught up in the rage, be sure to hammer home the rule that they should never be texting, playing or even holding their phone and driving at the same time. Six out of 10 teen crashes involve driver distraction ... and that includes being distracted by mobile games like Pokemon Go.
It's not all free: It's free to download the app to your phone, but in-app purchases range in price between 99 cents and $99.99. And people are buying stuff. According to MarketWatch, in less than 24 hours, the game was the most downloaded and top grossing app in the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Be sure you have safeguards in place and limits set so your kids don't break the bank with Pokemon Go purchases.
Take a break: The game can be addictive. Make sure your kids are taking breaks from those tiny screens and enjoying other summer activities. (We have 100 of them).