The Pokémon Go craze that has swept the nation is leaving some parents playing catch up to learn the latest app that their kids are downloading (or wanting to).
At Erikson Institute, the nation’s leading graduate school in child development, our Technology in Early Childhood Center focuses exclusively on the intersection of child development, early learning and children’s media for children up to age 8.
Our technology experts, including Tamara Kaldor, M.S., the assistant director of Erikson’s Technology in Early Childhood Center, devote their time to studying trends and issues related to children’s media and have these tips to share with parents on Pokémon Go:
- Before you sign up. Take time to teach your child some digital citizenship and media literacy skills. Currently, if you sign up with a Google account Pokémon Go may have access to certain personal information. With your child, review the app permissions and ask if he or she is comfortable with them.
- On the move and on the lookout. Get out your most comfy walking shoes and be ready to move! Pokémon Go can be a lot of fun and help you discover new places in your town or city, but that also means learning how to navigate different environments safely. From learning how to cross the street to pausing and reading a map to knowing where you are headed next, parents can play a critical role in modeling “street smart skills.”
- Making good choices about where to stop. PokéStops and Pokémon Gyms—key real-world locations and landmarks that Pokémon Go players visit to acquire collectibles and do battle—are pulled from the location database of Niantic’s original location-based AR game, Ingress. PokéStops include many churches, synagogues and police stations. Talk with your child about how to be respectful of these spaces and the important work or worship that may be taking place.
- In-app purchases and businesses are ready to cash in. Business owners are looking to become PokéStops so they can use “Lures,” in-game items that turn any existing PokéStop into sponsored stops for players looking to catch Pokémon. It is important to talk with children about how in-app purchases and checking into retail locations means often not only having to spend money, but also sharing their contact and private information online.
- Assess as you go. Help your child discuss and analyze what you both like and don’t like about the game as you play together. Discuss and model taking breaks to do other outdoor activities. Assess together when you’re having fun or feeling anxious about the need to keep playing.
As a parent, observe your child and check in to make sure he or she understand what is real and what is not. It can be easy to get caught up in a new game and virtual reality. Parents play an important role as media mentors in helping children navigate and make sense of the real world and the virtual world.