It’s rated “E” for Everyone and has taken the world by storm in the few weeks since its launch. Unquestionably, Pokemon GO represents a breakthrough in augmented reality for adults. But, what is this new craze’s value to kids? Beyond the many existing augmented reality apps available, we see that the value it brings is twofold:
- It is a fun way to bond with parents when the family plays together, and
- It encourages walking around and getting exercise.
But, along with the fun and exercise comes some concerns for parents. Many of them do not want their children playing Pokemon GO without adult supervision for several reasons:
- The app collects a lot of personal information from the device on which it is installed (it asks for geolocation, photos, media, and other files, access to contacts, and the ability to take pictures and record videos).
- In the United States, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) requires verifiable parental permission to collect this kind of personally identifiable information from children under the age of 13 — that’s why to register as a trainer within the game requires a birthdate. Many parents want to keep such information about their children private.
- The app may suggest to children that they go places that they otherwise would not be allowed by themselves (or at all) in order to ‘catch’ Pokemon.
- The economic model of the game is based on in-app purchases which parents may not want their children to be able to make.
Our online parent community, ParentSpeak, reports mixed feelings about Pokemon GO. Here is what some parents say:
- “It is the hot new game for teens to play at camp. She is 12 and it keeps them after camp and running around.”
- “My child is not playing. She is 10 years old. Her and her dad did just get into geocaching though.”
- “My 7-year-old son is excited, though he doesn’t know much about Pokemon.”
- “My 11-year-old plays it only while in the car driving by Pokemons. Nothing by herself on foot.”
- “The 10-year-old wanted to play but I didn’t want her wandering off and getting into places she shouldn’t be so she entertains herself with other games.”
So is Pokemon GO for kids? From our YouthBeat® data, we know that Generation Z is tighter with their parents than Millennials were. Our POV is that Pokemon GO is a great app for family interaction—so yes, then, in a family context with parental supervision, Pokemon GO is great for kids.