Did the Simpsons trailer where Homer catches Pokemon on his phone while ignoring his children hit a nerve? If so we've put together this guide so that you can feed your Pokemon Go habit while keeping your kids safe and happy.
Is this you?
It's OK, you can be obsessed with Pokémon Go and have lots of fun with younger children. After playing Pokémon Go during much of our free time (well, when the servers are up) since it came out in the UK, we've got some suggestions.
- Have a protocol in place for when you spot a Butterfree while walking along a crowded street. Make sure you and the kids get out of the way as much as possible. You might be able to lob Poké balls while walking, but you might not also be able to keep track of your kids ...
- It's best to play on a shared phone initially, then all of your attention is on one device. If young kids have their own phones then it will be easy for them to wander off to catch a Pokémon or Poké stop when you're distracted. Kids can pair up with parents, or a non Pokémon Go playing parent could keep an eye on them if they do have their own phones.
- Don't say, "come on leave that grasshopper alone, we need to take back the gym." Enjoy being outdoors.
- Use a screen protector and take screen wipes with you. This will help avoid sticky smudges on your precious phone.
At least have a pocket that you can quickly pop the phone in so that your hands are free when crossing roads.
Consider wearing your phone in a lanyard case so that you can quickly drop it if you need your hands free for for your kids, or just want to hold their hands as you walk.
- Make sure you give your kids plenty of practice with catching Pokémon and battling early in the game. Otherwise once it gets harder you'll be reluctant to hand your phone over. (Okay, my kids are better than me, I hand the phone over when something tricky comes along ...) Also remember that they will want to see what's happening to fully understand the game, lower your phone down to their level.
- You know you absolutely cannot play Pokémon Go while driving. But kids can catch Poke stops and rare Pokémon on the way past. This means you can let them have a go while not missing out yourself because you wouldn't be able to play while driving anyway. This only works with kids who are old enough to play independently and not distract you.
- Low on Poké Balls? Take the kids to a Poké stop for their bedtime story. They'll think it's an adventure to have their bedtime story outside and you can load up on Poké balls every few pages. (Warning: We tried this and it worked one day, but the next time we ended up getting drawn into a fantastic back and forth battle between Team Valour and Team Mystic. No reading actually happened, but everyone was happy.)
- As well as making sure you have a spare battery for your phone, make sure you have drinks and snacks for the kids. Egg hatching is hungry-making, especially when Pokémon Go only manages to track half the distance you've actually walked ...
- Take a camera with you so you can capture your kids enjoying themselves. I've got so used being able to take photos on my phone when we're out and about but now I want to take photos while my kids are holding my phone or I don't want to quit the app.
- Get your kids researching all the details of battling, levelling up and Poké coins. They've probably got more spare time than you. Reading is good right? Check websites for suitability, but there's plenty of information on reputable sites.
- Can't hold any more eggs and need to get them hatched quickly? Find a nice safe straight stretch of cycle path and get a child to cycle up and down. Just make sure you attach your phone securely and regularly check that the app is still running.
- There are rumours that ghost type Pokémon are easier to catch at night. Pitch this as an amazing adventure to your kids and take them out (somewhere safe) after dark or get up really early in the morning to see if the rumour is true.
- Find libraries and museums that have a Poké stop or gym so you can combine a useful visit with levelling up.
- If you're in a city then the Poké stops can be really interesting places. It's worth slowing down enough to check out places of interest rather than just spinning the stop and heading for the next one! We've found some fantastic historical spots and interesting artwork that we wouldn't have known about otherwise. See Pokémon Go is educational.