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“Please? Please, can we play for just a few more minutes?” beg my children several times a day.
Our dog, a small Jack Russell, pleads with his brown eyes for me to say no. All he wants to do is lay over the air conditioner vent to catch some rest after his sixth or seventh walk that day. Every morning, every afternoon, and of course before bed they plead to head outside and make one more sweep of the neighborhood for Pokémon or to hit the local Poké stop.
Within the last few weeks, my family has joined the Pokémon GO craze taking the world by storm. In a strange twist of fate, my children are once again talking about Bulbasaurs and Pidgeottos like they were six years old again, trying to collect or trade every Poké card they could get their hands on. However, now they have traded in their binders and containers in favor of wireless devices as they roam our neighborhoods and communities trying to “catch’em all”, along with the other 15 million plus users.
While this game is getting people outside and exercising, it has also been receiving some negative criticism in regards to player safety. The distractive nature of this game has led to many accidents and injuries. If that wasn’t enough, now authorities are becoming concerned about criminals luring users out into secluded areas. Granted these are very real concerns, but parents can relax knowing there are some basic safety guidelines we can utilize to protect our kids as they hunt elusive Pokémon or walk to hatch eggs.
Don’t let children play alone.
Encourage children to use the buddy system or hunt with a group of friends. There is safety in numbers, making it less likely that they will be targeted by criminals and someone will be close by if an accident occurs.
Do get in on the action as a family.
This app does offer our children a lot of benefits, and one is the endless potential for family time and bonding. Take advantage of our sons’ and daughters’ enthusiasm and hit the pavement with them!
Do clearly state where a child is allowed to play the game.
By setting boundaries, you will be able to know the exact areas a child will frequent and how far they will go away from home. For added security, consider arming children with backup emergency chargers so they can always get in touch with you, even if their phone battery dies.
Do dress for maximum visibility to be seen easier by drivers and other pedestrians.
Wear white, bright colors, or clothing that has reflective capabilities to help drivers and other pedestrians notice our boys and girls while walking.
Don’t play after dark.
It might be tempting to let kids take one more walk after sunset, but according to the CDC most pedestrians accidents resulting in death happen at night. Encourage them to take some down time and enjoy the evening at home.
Do ask older children and independent teens to share their routes with you and to check in from time to time.
This will make it easier to locate a child if needed.
Has your family joined the Pokemon GO craze?
Amy Williams is a journalist and mother in Southern California.