My son was obsessed with Pokémon when he was four years old. For two years, I read nothing but Pokémon books to him. The books he liked were Find and Seek or Pokémon directories. Neither types of books have much plot. I also bought him tiny Pokémon plastic figures off eBay that I would carry around in a plastic baggy and whip out at restaurants for him to play with. They had to be ordered from Hong Kong. This is serving me well now, when my kids catch Pokémon because I actually can describe them.
Jigglypuff? The pinkish one?
Poliwhirl? Doesn’t that have a swirly thing for eye? Oh, it’s on the stomach.
Ghastly? Ghost Pokémon!
I love Pokémon. I love how kids can wander in this safe world where nothing really bad ever happens. When PokémonGo came out, I knew it would motivate my son to finish his summer math workbook in order to get a cell phone. As a rising 6th grader taking the school bus for the first time, he needs a phone.
It worked. And I had three kids off to the races to Pokémon three days after the game released. Here’s what I learned (though please note that I am not playing the game myself).
PokémonGO: Data and Battery Usage
PokémonGO takes a lot of data to use because it uses GPS. My three kids are on cell phone plans that do NOT allow them unlimited data. Since you will be on the move, chances are that you won’t have access to Wi-Fi.
It can also drain your smart phone’s battery though that hasn’t been our experience yet. We’ve had more issues of using up data. One tip to save your phone’s battery is to enable the battery saver mode. Just open up the Pokémon Go app, and then tap on the “Setting” button on the top-right corner of the screen.
Scroll down the menu until you see ‘Battery Saver’. Tap it to select it (a tick will appear), and then you can turn your phone upside down, which will dim the screen. Turning off sound effects, music and vibration will also help keep your battery from draining too fast.
How to Play #PokémonGO with Your Kids
PokémonGO: Choosing a Starter Pokémon
My son discovered too late that if you refuse three times the starter Pokémon offered to you, a Pikachu will be an option. He was already on Level 5 when he figured this out, so he didn’t want to start over.
PokémonGO: Choosing a Team
There are three choices of teams: blue, red, and yellow. You might want to coordinate with your friends so that you are all on the same team. This will matter when you want to take over a Pokémon Gym.
PokémonGO: Catching Pokémon
You will need to get Pokéballs from a Pokéstop. I have noticed that Pokéstops tend to be food oriented, like Trader Joe’s or a restaurant. Get a lot of Pokéballs; you need one per throw.
The screen will tell you if there is a Pokémon in the area. Once you know, you can generally find it but sometimes the Pokémon will run away from you.
You throw the Pokéball at the Pokémon to catch it. The Pokémon has a two circles that you have to hit. My son said that rotating the Pokéball before throwing it, enables a perfect throw. If you miss, try again!
My kids are catching Pokémon while I drive them around in the car, so you don’t necessarily have to be walking around, but sometimes my car is going too fast so it doesn’t always work.
Incense. Incense is something that you can earn to get Pokémon to come to you. I hear that it lasts about ten minutes. Other players will NOT see the Pokémon that you see though.
Lure. Lure is something that you can earn to get Pokémon to come to a Pokéstop. It only works at a Pokéstop and everyone at the Pokéstop can get the Pokémon that come because of the Lure. My son started getting Lures at Level 8. He thinks you can purchase Lures also (but we are strictly against that).
You can get Pokéball and eggs from a Pokéstop. The eggs will hatch into any kind of Pokémon; it’s unpredictable. In order to hatch your egg, you have to walk a certain number of steps. You can also use Lure at a Pokéstop to help yourself and others there to catch Pokémon by drawing them to you.
PokémonGO: Poké Gyms
We noticed that all the churches in our area are Poké Gyms but when we drove to the Museum of Science in Boston, my son said that a large bridge was also a Poké Gym. Poké Gyms have different strengths depending on who is controlling it. My kids said that if a Poké Gym has a low level, they (as Team Blue), would try to take it over.
PokémonGO: Level Up
The more Pokémon that you have, the higher your level. My son noted that the Pokémon that you catch will have a higher power, the higher level you are. The power level becomes important when you battle your Pokémon at a Poké Gym. We haven’t done much of that yet.
My son catching Pokémon while in a model of the Space Shuttle at the Museum of Science.
PokémonGO: Evolving Your Pokémon
Most Pokémon have a three-step evolution cycle. Legendary Pokémon do not evolve. A few Pokémon like Evie can evolve into different paths. Evolving your Pokémon gives it greater power and abilities, so this is highly desired (with the exception of Ash’s Pikachu who choose not to evolve).
To evolve your Pokémon, you need to get Poké candy. You usually get one Poké candy when you catch your Pokémon. You can trade the same type of Pokémon for more candies for that type. For example, Pidgey is a very common Pokémon where we live. By catching a lot of Pidgeys, my son evolved one Pidget into Pidgeotto, and then into Pidgeot. His Pidgeot is now his most powerful Pokémon.
For the Pokémon that evolve into different paths or for some Pokémon types, you also need some kind of stone for the evolution. You have to find those stones on your search.
PokémonGO: Cautionary Tales
LOOK UP! Safety is my first concern. To stay safe, LOOK up while playing PokémonGO. My oldest almost got hit by a car while walking in a crosswalk zone by not paying attention. If you need to look at the screen because you are trying to catch a Pokémon, STOP while throwing, after making sure you are in a safe stop.
AVOID UNKNOWN LURES! You might have heard about the people who got robbed while going to a Lure in their area. Don’t go to Lures at night. This is real life people! Use caution, just as you would, for anything else.
DON’T PLAY ALONE! We are not in Pokémon land where it’s safe to wander anywhere we want. Be sure your child is supervised when on a catching expedition. I would let my son catch Pokémon with his oldest sister; she’s 16 years old. Otherwise, I accompany him.
BE AWARE! People have scaled fences and wandered into fields. In doing so, some startling discoveries have been made. The woman who scaled a fence discovered a dead body in a lake. Two people found a puppy with both back legs broken in a remote field. Interesting finds can be made that are not Pokémon related. Don’t play alone and be aware of your surroundings!
My son can be a recluse huddled in front of his computer while also on an iPad. This game is getting him outside. He usually resists going to museums but they are great places to catch Pokémon so we’ve been to the Museum of Science and he’s agreed to go to Museum of Fine Arts too! Usually he hates art museums.
He’s getting a lot exercise while hunting for Pokémon. The dog park hike which is about 2 miles not only allowed him to hatch a Pokémon, but he caught four or five both there and on the way to and back.
This is something that all three of my kids are doing together. My middle child is not much of a gamer, but she’s playing. My oldest had a secret Pokémon love, so she gets to express this more openly. My son is finally an expert in something that his two older sisters give him a little respect for.
Your phone battery might get drained. I have a portable battery charger though I haven’t had to use it. Your data will get used up. My girls say that PokémonGO is using up all their data which is why they are not on a higher level. My kids are still in front of screens even if they are outside. The information they are learning regarding factoids about Pokémon are largely useless in the real world.
PokémonGO: Will This Fad End?
My son says no! Why? The number of Pokémon is limited per release. If you gotta catch them all, you will need to keep catching, probably for a very long time. My son also says that new releases will include different and not-seen-before evolutions of certain Pokémon.
All fads will come to an end, but PokémonGO seems like it planned well for maximizing longevity (and revenue!).
p.s. We got rid of most of our Pokémon books but I wish we had kept this two book directory set. Ours was dog-eared and falling apart. It’s probably time for a new set.
Pokémon: The Complete Pokemon Pocket Guide, 2 Book Boxed Set
This directory has type, abilities, height, weight, description, special moves and evolution. A must have for any serious Pokémon would-be Trainer. We read these so much that the pages are starting to fall out.
p.s. More cautionary advice:
Karl Volkman, CTO of SRV Network, Inc. says, “One robbery has already been caused due to Pokémon, as the thieves ‘lured’ their victims to a specific location with the promise of desirable Pokémon. It is feared that the game could be used to kidnap children or that children could wander into unsafe places as they seek Pokémon.”
Don’t allow your children to make in-app purchases. Make sure that your settings require family members to ‘ask to buy’ before they can make purchases on their phone.”
Stress street safety. “If your kids are old enough to drive on their own (or even just ride their bike around the neighborhood), you really have to stress situational awareness,” says Volkman. “There have been reports of people getting into accidents while playing Pokémon behind the wheel as well as kids just walking into traffic while looking at their phones. It might sound silly, but it’s a real safety concern.”
Don’t allow young children to play Pokémon Go on their own. “I don’t think it’s a good idea for kids to be collecting Pokémon all over town without their parents being involved,” he says, “Kids are way too trusting, even the ones who have been warned about stranger danger a million times. They don’t realize that not everyone has their best interests at heart, and when tempting Pokémon are in mix, it’s too much to expect young children to make the right decision.”
Play as a family. “It’s not just a game for kids!” he says. “Not only will it get you all active and out of the house, but it is a great distraction on long road trips or if you’re stuck with a long layover at the airport.”
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