Pokemon Go – what parents need to know about the new app game

What is it? How do you play? Are there any safety risks? Let's find out...

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In a nutshell

If you haven’t heard the words Pokemon Go this week, where have you been hiding?

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The ‘augmented reality’ app game for iPhone and Android has quickly become a huge viral craze with teenagers (and adults) – who have been strolling around the globe to catch virtual Pokemon from real-life locations since the game first became available in the US.

It’s so addictive one new dad admitted on Reddit that he couldn’t stop playing it, even during his wife’s labour.

Here’s what every parent needs to know about it…

When is it officially out in the UK?

After huge success in the US and other territories, it’s officially out on the Apple app store now.

But if your child has it long before its release, keep an eye out for these potential security risks…

On Android, there are dozens of fake versions of the game – downloading one of these can put malware on your child’s (or your) phone, which could put your child’s phone data at risk.

You can avoid this quite easily though – make sure there’s free antivirus software on your child’s phone and check they’re only playing the official version of the game.

On iPhone, switching your settings to US means UK users can access the American app store and download the official game.

What else should you be aware of?

Because the game takes place outside, it does involve a lot of walking around in public with your eyes firmly fixed on your phone – so check your child is alert when doing things like crossing the road, and make sure they don’t accidentally wind up on private property.

Certain kinds of Pokemon are apparently easier to find at night – so common sense is key. If you wouldn’t go down a dark secluded alley in the daytime then you certainly shouldn’t go down it just to find a Pokemon after dark.

There’s also a feature called the ‘PokeLure’ – it’s a great way for kids nearby to connect and meet each other in person to go and collect Pokemon together – but dangerous if this feature is found in the wrong hands.

Finally, the app is free, but in-app purchases are available. You can usually cap in-app spending on the settings on your phone to avoid any Pokemon-themed bills you weren’t expecting.

What we love about it

There’s no doubt that the game is getting kids out and about. Here at MFM we’ve even seen the boost in outdoor activity firsthand.

Users are purposefully going outside for walks, heading to parks and even museums and galleries (where the PokeStop and Gyms are located) just to catch Pokemon, according to Buzzfeed.

It’s also quite nice for mums, dads and siblings – who can easily join in the fun together by downloading the app on their own phones.

Tell us what you think

Is your child obsessed with Pokemon Go? Are you dying to give it a go yourself?

Let us know on Facebook and Twitter.

Images: YouTube/Pokemon Go

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