POKEmonGoPokémon Go has taken over in the last couple of weeks, consuming the attention of children, teens and even adults. This game, which blends the virtual world with our real world, has made headlines not only because it broke download records but also because it has caused accidents, injuries and even robberies.

Using the GPS to determine your location, Pokémon Go challenges players to visit local spots by walking or biking, to capture Pokémons hiding in specific areas. There are some Pokémons that are easy to find and others which are rare and require players to use more Pokéballs to capture them, so they can train them later on in the game.

If you are the parent of a teenager, then you know that you are asking for trouble if you forbid your teen from doing something. Chances are, forbidding your teen from playing Pokémon Go will backfire on you, especially if your kid’s friends are all about this game at the moment.

As with many things, this game has its good and bad qualities. Knowing the good and the bad is the only way you can determine whether you should let your kid use this app. To help you decide, here are some advantages and dangers that come with playing Pokémon Go.

The good…

Getting everyone off the couch – This game’s best feature is that to find the Pokémon, players have to get out of the house and walk or bike to specific locations. This means your teen will spend more time moving about and getting some much needed exercise.

Exploring new locations – Pokémon Go uses local landmarks such as Cathedrals, museums and national parks to place its Pokémons. Through this feature, your teen is more likely to visit local landmarks that he might not have visited before and maybe learn a thing or two about the place along the way.

Meet peers in real life – We’re always telling our teens to have more real interactions rather than simply communicating with their peers through social media. With its Pokéstops and lure modules, this game helps in bringing more people together, as they gather in spots to hunt Pokémons and it is here that your teen can build new relationships without the use of a phone.

Fun time – With all of the angst, moods and insecurities that come with adolescence, having fun running around and hunting virtual creatures is far better and safer than going to parties.

The bad…

Arguing over Pokémons – A rare Pokémon in sight can quickly turn a friendly competition into a heated argument. Your kid should know that no Pokémon is worth getting into a fight over.

The dark side of the lure module – The lure module is a feature a player uses to lure rare Pokémon. The lure can also be seen by other players in the area who can choose to come closer to spot Pokémons. Robbers and sex offenders have taken advantage of this feature to lure people so your teen should be warned to be cautious of certain locations.

Eyes on the road – Players have to master a certain level of coordination when playing this game, as they have to spot the Pokémon on their screen while walking in the real world. Using the vibrate mode to alert your teen when a Pokémon is near is a way of keeping their eyes on the road. Moreover, you can “tell them to frequently look up from their phones to make sure there are no cars coming their directions.”

Money spent on in app purchases – This game is free to download and to play but there are in-app purchases such as Pokéballs to capture the Pokémon with. Ideally, your kid’s money should not be spent on in-app purchases so it’s good to monitor their app store purchases.

Respect boundaries and private property ­– Pokémons have appeared everywhere, even on private property. Your teen should know the rules of the world come before the rules of the game, no matter how rare that Pokémon is.

Once your teen is aware of the dangers that come with this game, then you can start to see how the advantages of Pokémon Go will benefit your kid. This game encourages live interaction and physical movement, as well as laughter, which is better than seeing our teens in a bad mood, locked up in their rooms with their phones and their angst.


Contributor:  Amy Williams, a journalist and former social worker passionate about parenting and education.

You can follow Amy on Twitter.