Parents, I totally get why you want to know about the Pokemon app. If your kids aren’t playing it, chances are your kids friends are – or even possibly your friends. Fear not, we have a parent’s guide to the Pokémon Go App just for you!
Parent’s Guide to Pokémon Go App
Let’s talk about what exactly Pokémon Go is, how to start playing, should you let your kids play, we will talk about security and privacy, how this game can get your kids moving and how you can use this app as a family activity. There is a lot of information here that we feel parents will want to know. If you are wanting more specifics about game play, make sure you check out our Pokemon 101 page – where you can learn more about definitions, how to hatch eggs and more technical geeky game stuff that you will want to learn all about once your start and your kids start playing. Enough jib-jab, let’s talk about what this game is and what parents should know about it.
What is Pokémon Go?
Remember the old anime cartoon, Pokémon? Or maybe the game? OR better yet, the Pokémon cards? HELLO 90’s, like big hair – so are these little creatures from Japan.
Nintendo’s stock is up for a reason, their new app Pokémon Go is HUGE. Pokémon Go is a FREE to play, location-based augmented reality mobile game created by Niantic. The app was released in the US in July 2016 for iOS and Android. your phone’s GPS and camera, the game allows players to capture, battle and train virtual creatures – aka Pokémon. These creatures appear on the screen like they are in the real world (hence, augmented reality.) While yes, the game is free – do know there are in-app purchases.
Parents, you will love this about the game. It encourage strategic thinking and, in many cases, basic math skills (anyone else’s kid have summer brain?) Pokémon puts a strong emphasis on good sportsmanship and respect for other players. So much better than so many of the negative aspects social media present to our kids. Many parents feel that Pokémon GO encourages their children to learn to read, since reading is required.
What Age is Good To Start Playing?
Our 4-year-old tried to play, he was still too young to get it. Our 6-year-old is totally into it, but since he is younger – he can only play with us or his older siblings since I don’t want the kid wandering off too far from home.
This game has quickly become the #1 app – even though it was just released there are rumored to be more daily users of this game than daily users of Twitter.
LET’S START PLAYING
The first thing you need to do, after downloading the app is create an account. If you are having a hard time registering an account with Pokemon, use Google. If you are worried about your child’s security and privacy – keep reading, i’ll talk more about that later in the article.
You will then be prompted to create your avatar. The game lets you customize your avatar’s hair, skin, and eye color, style, and outfit.
After the avatar is created, it is displayed at the player’s current location along with a map of the player’s immediate surroundings. Features on the map include creatures, as well as a number of PokéStops and Pokémon gyms.
The Pokemon Go app is based off the Ingress app. If you’ve played with this app, you may notice that the Poke locations are re-purposed Ingress portals. Ingress is Niantic’s previous augmented reality game.
Should I Let My Kids Play?
Yes, we have heard it “KIDS SPEND TOO MUCH TIME ON SCREENS.” Agree, but here’s the deal – Pokémon Go yes is on a screen, but it actually gets your kids moving. HOW? Let’s explain. The goal of the game is to catch pokemons. In order to catch them, you have to find them. In order to find them – you have to walk to various locations to find various pokemon characters.
While there are all kinds of negative games and apps available for kids, the Pokemon app is in general is positive and encourages community, teams and moving.
Is There a Security and Privacy Risk with Pokémon Go?
Of course there are always the naysayers. When the app first launched, it was quickly revealed that Niantic (the app developer) was being granted full access to your Google account.When first released, demand was so high – it was hard to create an account using the Pokemon site, so many users turned to signing in with Google. Niantic quickly responded with the following:
We recently discovered that the Pokémon GO account creation process on iOS erroneously requests full access permission for the user’s Google account. However, Pokémon GO only accesses basic Google profile information (specifically, your User ID and email address) and no other Google account information is or has been accessed or collected. Once we became aware of this error, we began working on a client-side fix to request permission for only basic Google profile information, in line with the data that we actually access. Google has verified that no other information has been received or accessed by Pokémon GO or Niantic. Google will soon reduce Pokémon GO’s permission to only the basic profile data that Pokémon GO needs, and users do not need to take any actions themselves.
So fear not. POKEMON IS NOT STEALING YOUR DATA. This issue was only when using iOS. This access is similar to what most sites/apps are granted when you use Google to login.
HOW DO I REMOVE FULL GOOGLE ACCESS TO POKEMON GO?
Niantic released a patch – but you should also change how the app accesses your account on Google’s backend:
Open the Connected Apps tab of the settings menu. Make sure you are logged into the Google account linked to the Pokemon Go app. If the Pokemon Go Release field reads “Basic Access”, you are all good. If Google still reads “Full account access”, you will need to update your account.
- Open your app (make sure you have the LATEST VERSION)
- Select LOG OUT in the Settings menu.
- Go back to the Connected Apps page in your Google settings.
- Select the REMOVE option for “Pokemon Go Release”.
- Select OK to remove the access.
- Open your Pokemon Go app again on your iOS or Android device and log in with your Google account as normal.
- When asked for access to your name / email address, select “Allow”.
That’s it – you are now restored to basic Google access. Don’t worry, your Pokemon data is saved.
Other possible things that could bring question in regards to security and privacy:
- Camera access – YES, Pokemon GO is an augmented reality app, so OF COURSE it will need your camera. The camera is a big part of the game.
- Storage access – Yep, to store additional data, the app will need storage access.
- Contact – There are future plans for this game to be a multiplayer game, which then will need your contacts. Right now – you can turn this off because it’s not needed if you don’t feel comfortable with Niantic having access to your contacts.
How Can This Game Get My Kid Moving?
As mentioned above, the app features a lot of movement. In addition to walking to catch Pokemon (one of the main features of the game) – another feature requires your kid (or you, we don’t judge) to walk a certain distance to hatch eggs. Each egg that you are trying to hatch will display the number of kilometers you must walk for that particular egg to hatch. NOTE: In general, the more kilometers required, the rarer the Pokémon that will hatch – which means your kids will be walking EVEN further to hatch the rare eggs. A notification will appear when the Egg has finally hatched.
How Can I Use Pokémon Go as a Family Activity?
Don’t think of this as a game that just your kid is playing by themselves, parents – join in on the fun. We just got back from a left coast road trip of the US, right when the app came out. We were able to go hunt for Pokemon all over San Francisco, the Grand Canyon and more. My husband takes our kids out (yes, even our daughter is a Pokemon Trainer) to find these creatures, gather goods and more. And I have a sneaking suspicion my husband has been eating lunch at a certain outdoor mall near his work because of all of the lures and Pokemon spots.
Grab your kids and their friends, open the app and have some fun! This is like the new form geo-caching, but instead of an actual item – you are getting a virtual item – but the kids will love it, and you may too.