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Pokémon Go

Pokémon GO is a free smartphone game where users find and catch Pokémon to add to their collection. The game is designed to be played outside, with players finding Pokémon in different locations. Children under 13 need parental permission to download the game.

13+

Official age rating

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Our safety ratings

Overall safety rating:

Our overall rating for Pokémon Go

Average

Pokémon GO uses augmented reality to create a virtual world for players. The game uses your location and encourages you to go to real-life locations to collect rare items. Because of this there is a chance your child could come across other players while playing outside the home. We would recommend that your child only plays the game outside your home with adult supervision.

Parents and carers can access parental controls by setting up their child up an account on Niantic kids for them to gain access to the game. You should explore the information available on their site to see if this is suitable for your family.

There is no in-game chat but there are a number of third-party apps available where kids can go to talk to other players about the game. You should make sure to talk to your child about these.

Safety features

To play the game, users are required to be 13+. To access parental controls on the game you can set up a Niantic Kids account and connect it with Pokémon Go. This will help you manage what personal information your child can share, friend requests and screen time.

However, if your child registers without connecting their account to a Niantic Kids accounts, you won’t be able to access any of these features. Make sure they sign up with the correct date of birth.

Privacy & location

Accounts on the game are set to private by default and other players can only see your nickname.

You can add friends on the game if you know their 12 digit game code. This gives you access to their Trainer Profile which includes information like how many Pokémon they’ve caught and the level they’re on. It doesn’t contain any personal information. You should remind your child to not share their code with anyone they don’t know.

Be aware that location sharing must be switched on to access the game and your nickname will appear on a public map when you’re near other players.

Reporting & blocking

To report another player, you need to contact the in-app chat support team which you can access via settings. However, this was difficult to find at first and the page wasn’t working properly. There are no in-app communication features so there is no way to block another player.

There is very little interaction within the game as it relies on players being out in the community using augmented reality. However, this means, that there is a risk your child could meet other players outside. You should make sure to supervise your child when playing this game outside your home.

Content

We didn’t come across anything inappropriate while exploring the game. There are no in-app communication features meaning your child can’t be sent anything inappropriate in the game. However, if playing the game outside your home there is a chance your child could meet another player and come across something they might find upsetting or worrying.

O2 Guru top tip

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On Pokémon Go usernames

Usernames are visible to other players on the map, so make sure your child doesn’t use a real name or personal information when setting one up.

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Sitting down with your child and exploring the game together is a great way for you to understand why they like to play it and chat through ways they can keep safe.

As your child’s nickname will be visible to other players, help them choose an appropriate one that doesn’t reveal their identity. Stay away from real-names, birth years and locations.

Pokémon Go locations, called PokéStops and Gyms, are usually located in public places, like parks and churches. Make sure you talk to your child about where they’re going and at what time.  

Visit the NSPCC for more information on keeping children safe when they’re away from home. 

Help your child think about what they share online and who sees it. Compare it to what they would be happy to share offline.

Use examples that are easy for them to understand: “You shouldn't give your number to somebody you don't know on the street. Is somebody online you don't know any different?”

Listen to their answers. And be positive and encouraging.

Remind them that they shouldn’t share private things, such as:

  • personal information, like names, emails, phone numbers, location and school names
  • other people's personal information
  • links to join private group chats
  • photos of themselves
  • photos of their body, such as sexual photos or videos.

Gaming is a fun way for kids to relax and stay entertained outside of school but it’s important to agree rules to keep them safe whilst gaming. These could include which games are safe to play, who they can play with, where they can use their devices at home or how long they can play for.

For example, you might agree with them they can play in the main family rooms at the weekends with their school friends. Different rules will work for different families but often work best when agreed together as a family. That way your child can share things like how long each game lasts which is helpful to know when agreeing time limits.

It can help to write down any new rules together as a family so you can come back to them later. Use our family agreement to get you started.

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Talking to your child

Having open, regular conversations with your child will help you to really understand and explore the online world together. Our tips and advice can help you start these conversations.

Talk about staying safe online

What children and parents are saying about Pokémon Go

We've spoken to over 2,000 parents and kids to find out what they think.

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Kids

What do children and young people dislike about Pokémon Go? 

  • Sometimes during the game people are able to see your location 
  • You have to be connected to the internet for it to work 
  • The risks of walking around places you may not know 

I like how you have to go look for them but it could lead you to somewhere you have never been before.

Girl, 12

What do children and young people like about Pokémon Go? 

  • Exploring outside and getting out of the house 
  • It’s fun to play with friends and family 

It's fun to play by yourself and with others, and you get outside more.

Girl, 12 

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Parents

We asked parents about the following areas of Pokémon Go: 

Privacy settings 

You can turn off location sharing using the settings option in Android easily enough, although the game does need to use GPS. Interactivity with other players is limited.

Dad of an 11 year old girl 

Reporting  

You can't interact with other people to an extent that you would need to block or report them.

Mum of an 8 year old 

Safety and support 

A lot of the safety aspects are about physical safety - rather than online safety. Focus is on being aware of your surroundings, not trespassing etc.

Father of an 11 year old girl 

Signing up 

Registration is fairly straightforward. My concern would be younger children using parent's log in to access.

Dad of an 11 year old girl 

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