How do I stay safe while playing Pokémon GO?

It’s this year’s smartphone sensation – the Augmented Reality smartphone game Pokémon GO.

The game involves exploring your real life surroundings to find and then catch cute monsters who appear in your smartphone’s screen. Since its launch around the world, it’s become one of the most wildly popular apps of all time – at one point even attracting more active users than Twitter.

Whether you’re playing Pokémon GO yourself, or if your children are playing, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure the experience is fun and most importantly, safe.

Be aware of where you’re going

The game encourages you to explore the world around you, however it’s important to remain aware of your surroundings. Don’t go anywhere you wouldn’t feel safe normally, avoid going out late at night, and if possible, play with a companion. Public places are sometimes marked in the game as special ‘Pokéstops’ or ‘Pokégyms’, but think twice before you enter – police stations and museums have already had to ask that players stay away.

Keep tabs on your battery level

If you plan on playing the game for a significant amount of time, keep track of how much battery your phone has left. As the app uses location data and the phone’s camera, it can drain the battery quite quickly. The last thing you want is to walk for miles searching, then run out of battery leaving you lost and unable to call for help. If you do play a lot, consider bringing a portable battery pack with you.

Watch out for your possessions

Opportunistic criminals have already used Pokémon GO’s huge popularity to target victims and steal their phones. When playing, always keep an eye on your possessions, and – as above – don’t go anywhere that doesn’t look or feel safe.

Stay hydrated

Many players have walked for miles while searching for Pokémon. It’s a great way to get more exercise, but it’s important to make sure you stay hydrated. So take a bottle of water with you if you plan on making a big trip.

Don’t play while you’re driving!

It might be tempting to check your phone for nearby Pokémon while on the road, but it’s extremely unsafe and accidents have already taken place. If you must check while in the car, pull over and come to a complete stop before doing so.

If your children are playing, set ground rules

Parents should consider all of the above before allowing their children to play the game, and set clear rules to ensure safe play. It’s advisable to set time limits for playing, and establish any no-go areas. For younger children, parents should always accompany them. You may also want to disable In App Purchases so that children can’t rack up a huge bill.

If you have any other Pokémon GO questions, just ask. Happy hunting!