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I know I’m a little late to the poke party.

No doubt you’ve seen the dazed looks of people traversing malls, parks, and even city streets, holding out their phones trying to capture characters. They’re probably even roaming through our church parking lot, because many PokéStops (digital locations designed to continue game play) are located there!

Released in July, Pokémon Go is a free app that uses augmented reality, meaning a user’s view of the real world is altered through a mobile device. After creating a personal avatar (a character that represents you), gamers collect helpful Pokémon-hunting items at designated PokéStops. As players move throughout the community, Pokémon characters appear. 

Unlike in former Poké products, gamers don’t battle Pokémon to capture them. They simply use balls gained from PokéStops to digitally encapsulate the characters. Gyms, or digital battle arenas where users fight to be king of the hill, also exist throughout communities. 

In its first few weeks on the market, Pokémon Go was downloaded more than 40 million times. Despite some technical glitches (resulting from the overwhelming response, no doubt), the game quickly became popular with people of all ages. Although Pokémon Go is free to download and play, players are spending an estimated $1.6 million per day on in-app purchases on Apple devices alone.

Pokémon Go is being praised for getting kids outside and moving. That’s because some stops are accessible only on foot, and some functions can be unlocked only by walking certain distances while the app counts steps. Yet the game is also receiving criticism because it uses GPS to track users’ locations while guiding them to different destinations.
As with anything moderation is key.  With the rise of phone usage, app usage and social media the goal is to continue to get our students to interact live with real people to continue to work on their social skills not social media skills.

POKE'STOPS

Because Pokémon Go encourages gamers and novices alike to emerge from basements and bedrooms and get outside, if you are going to engage with your student around this game, it’s important to pass along these safety tips to teenagers:

Like texting, this game isn’t to be played while driving. Never try to capture Pokémon while you’re behind the wheel!

Always stay aware of your surroundings. Some gamers have been struck by trains and fallen off cliffs while following GPS coordinates to the next destination.

Before each outing, provide an anticipated itinerary so I know where you plan to hunt for Pokémon!