If your kid is old enough to operate a smartphone, they're probably already obsessed with Pokemon Go—the GPS-based augmented reality game that's been sweeping the planet as kids and grownups alike venture out into the world to capture their favorite animated pocket monsters. It uses real world locations to get players to explore their surroundings in search of digital creatures and treasures.
In its short existence (the game has been out for two weeks as of this writing), Pokemon Go has become a powerful tool for getting people off the couch and on their feet. But if pop culture has taught us anything, it's that with great power comes great responsibility.
So if your kid tells you they gotta catch 'em all, just make sure they follow these safety tips.
Good Socks and Shoes1 of 12
The game is all about real world exploration to find fictional creatures. This requires players to walk around to capture different Pokemon. While all that extra walking is great for your kid's step count, without the proper footwear, they could come home with as many blisters as virtual Pokemon captured.
To combat this, make sure your child's wearing a comfy pair of socks and supportive tennis shoes before they head out on their next adventure.
Sunscreen2 of 12
All this walking around means players may spend more time outside than they normally would. Make sure your kids are taking the necessary precautions to protect themselves from all those extra UV rays. And don't forget to reapply every couple of hours.
Set Boundaries3 of 12
If your child's going on a Pokemon adventure alone, make sure to set up appropriate physical boundaries based on their age and what you're comfortable with. For example, tell them to stay on the street, within three blocks of home or just in the neighborhood.
Make sure your child respects and stays within the boundaries you set, no matter how close that Jigglypuff may be.
Use the Buddy System4 of 12
If it works for field trips, then it can work in the field. If you're not comfortable letting your child wander the streets in search of Pokemon alone, have them go with a friend, sibling or even you.
Playing Pokemon Go together can also enhance the gaming experience, as players can battle each other when they find a Gym.
Stay Hydrated5 of 12
When kids get crazy obsessed with something, it can be easy for them to ignore when their body is shutting down because, OMG! There's a Pikachu!
Especially when your kids have so much extra free time during the summer months, make sure they're keeping themselves properly hydrated with regular water breaks.
Travel Safely6 of 12
If your kid utilizes a bike, skateboard, scooter or any alternate mode of transportation on his or her Pokemon expeditions, make sure they obey the "no texting, while driving" rule.
Also, make certain they keep their eyes on the road and not on their phone when operating anything with wheels (or walking in general).
Wear Bug Spray7 of 12
Just because the creatures your child is chasing are fictional doesn't mean there aren't real critters outside to be wary of. Ward off mosquitos and other pests with a little bug spray to ensure your kids don't come back with an itch.
Be Careful What You Post Online8 of 12
Just to be on the safe side, make sure your kids don't post their current location or where they're going next on social media while playing Pokemon Go.
Tell them they can brag about their trophy catches as soon as they're safe and sound at home.
Stay Aware of Your Surroundings9 of 12
As the app itself warns, "Remember to be alert at all times. Stay aware of your surroundings."
It's easy to get lost in the game world while trying to find your next catch, but snakes, cliffs and oncoming traffic are just a few real-world hazards players need to watch out for. Players should also be wary of wandering onto private property or into a dark alley; your Charizard can't protect you in real life.
Watch Your Battery Power10 of 12
Because the game uses GPS to find the player's location and the smartphone's camera function when capturing Pokemon, it can drain your phone's battery faster than you can say, "I choose you, Mr. Mime!" (Seriously, never choose Mr. Mime.)
This can leave your kid exhausted from a long search and stranded with a dead cell phone. Make sure all your battery-saving options are turned on, and your kid keeps a close eye on how much life is left. It also might be worth investing in an external battery pack if your son or daughter is really serious about catching 'em all.
Side Note: If you don't have an unlimited data plan, your kid can really chew through some data if Wi-Fi isn't readily available. Racking up extra cell phone bill charges is a whole 'nother kind of dangerous for kids.
Set Time Limits11 of 12
As great as the active and social aspects of a game like Pokemon Go are, it still requires staring at a screen and engaging in a fictional universe for a considerable amount of time.
If you already put limits on your child's video game or TV time, you may want to place restrictions on this play time, too. But we recommend a little extra leniency with this one since they're getting exercise at the same time.