As the summer holidays set in, some schools in Cheshire West have been contacting parents about the dangers of Pokémon Go.
Currently the UK’s most popular smartphone app, it is unlikely you have not heard anything about the craze in the last few weeks.
On the positive side the game does encourage kids to get outside and exercise, while 'catching' Pokémon characters using the camera on their phone.
But there have been fears particularly young children could be at risk due to some of the app’s features.
Such has been Pokémon Go’s rapid popularity, some of the borough’s schools have felt the need to react.
Upton High and Helsby High were among those to supply parents with some guidance.
This includes keeping your child’s personal information safe and encouraging them to play in a group.
Upton High School referred parents to an article from the UK Safer Internet Centre.
Harm reduction officer Alan Earl said: “As with all new technology there will be a period of re adjustment and understanding.
“As with everything a set of rules and honest conversation will avoid many of the issues and allow your children to enjoy what is an engaging and fun game whilst avoiding some of the pitfalls.
“In this case many of the rules you already teach are hugely applicable here. Taking care around strangers whether Pokémon players or not.
“Considering and being aware of the dangers of your physical locality and considering the concerns of others whilst engaged in playing the game will be a start on dealing with the fallout from Pokémon Go.
“As the game develops and more is known I am sure the makers and online safety experts everywhere will be able to point to coping mechanisms if necessary.”
Of course adults have not been immune to the Pokémon Go craze, with many indulging in nostalgia from the video games released in the 90s.
It works by constructing a virtual map of your location within the app, so the streets of Chester, Ellesmere Port or Frodsham will look like never before.
Gamers are notified when a character is close and once you get to within metres, they will show up on the smartphone’s camera view to be ‘caught’ using the touch screen. The aim, of course, is to catch them all.
All users should of course stay aware of their surroundings and not get too sucked in.
ThinkUKnow have shared these five guidelines.
1. Depending on your child’s age, search for Pokémon with them, or ensure they have a friend with them at all times if you’re comfortable with them being outside without parental supervision.
2. Make sure usernames don’t contain any identifying information. While there is no built-in chat feature, usernames will appear if you are in a ‘gym’. As you need to be physically near a gym to battle, it’s best those around you cannot identify you.
3. Be cautious of ‘Pokestops’ and ‘lures’. A ‘lure’ is an item that can lure Pokémon to a location. Other people you don’t know can also attend the location to catch the Pokémon.
4. Be aware that apps may also have access to your personal information and other applications on your phone, including your location and camera.
5. There are in-app purchases, so don’t forget to chat to your children about the consequences of buying items through the app.
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