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Pokémon Go is a free app in which the player uses GPS location settings to catch, collect, train and fight Pokémon characters. Using GPS, the app encourages players to travel around the real world to seek out the different Pokémon characters. With approximately 8 million daily users, players can hunt and battle Pokémon everywhere and use the camera on their device to make the experience more realistic – using augmented reality. Players can also play with friends by sending friend requests, trading Pokémon, sending gifts, joining raids, taking snapshots and battling against each other. There are features on the map that include ‘Poké stops’ and ‘Poké gyms’ where players can battle their Pokémon. When used safely, this game is all about fun and exploration.
Official age rating
This is a PEGI rated 7 game.
The PEGI 7 rating reflects the mild cartoon-like violence between Pokémon characters within the game. It is not a game with realistic violence or adult themed content. In the Apple App Store and Google Play store, the game is rated as 9+. There are no age verification methods used when creating an account, so ensure your child has entered their correct date of birth to benefit from some of the safety settings.
Find out more about age ratings in our ‘A parent and carer’s guide to age ratings of apps and games’.
How children and young people use the app
Pokémon Go is a fun, engaging and easy to play game based on catching Pokémon (various creatures that come in multiple shapes and sizes with different powers and franchise-based histories) which players can collect, evolve and battle with against other players. This game is different to many other free games available for younger people. It is popular among children due to its augmented reality, where players can progress through the game by actually moving and visiting different locations, rather than sitting still in front of their device, as with most other games. Essentially based on the premise of bug catching, players feel attached to the Pokémon they have caught and are especially proud when catching one of high power, value or rarity. Players can play with their friends, family or on their own by visiting ‘Poké gyms’, ‘Poké stops’ and can show off their growing collection of Pokémon.
Key features and terminology
The characters that players collect and train. There are over 600 different Pokémon species players can collect and train.
The avatar each player creates which collects, trains and battles Pokémon.
This is the unique code given to each player who sets up an account. Sharing a trainer code with other user allows players to interact with each other within the game.
A ball trainers use to collect wild Pokémon characters.
This is the location where trainers teach their Pokémon to fight.
‘Poké stops’ are locations where trainers can pick up additional provisions for their Pokémon. These are usually located at places of interest within the real world.
These battles occur when a high-level Pokémon takes over a ‘Poké gym’. Players then have to team up to challenge the ‘Raid boss’ to take back the gym. Up to 20 players can join the battle and must be at the location of the gym to take part. Battles can occur between 9am and 9pm.
This is the in-game currency. Players can earn ‘Poké coins’ during play or buy them from 79p for 100 coins.
Pokémon Go contains some mild violence as players battle Pokémon against each other. As the game is animated and based around virtual reality, the majority is not realistic and therefore not particularly violent or graphic. There is no in-game chat function within Pokémon Go so users are unlikely to be exposed to bad language or mature content within the game. It is important to note that as the game requires players to visit real-world locations, it is possible they could be exposed to other players who use such language in a real-life context. Parents and carers should note that a parent email address is required to set up an account for players under 13. This allows parents to manage the settings for location and sponsored content, as well as friends and augmented reality experiences.
Connecting with others
The main risk within Pokémon Go is the potential to meet with strangers in the real world. As the game requires players to use real life GPS locations to collect and battle Pokémon, there is a risk of younger players meeting with older users at predetermined locations such as Poke Stops. Speak to your child about the risks of meeting with strangers and explain the importance of not going to a different location with someone they don’t know. It is recommended that children and young people should not visit designated locations without adult supervision to reduce this risk of stranger contact.
Pokémon Go does allow its players to interact with each other through battles and trading. As the players that you interact with on Pokémon Go are determined by who you are friends with either in person or on other apps, it is recommended that you are aware of who your child is friends with or interacts with on all of the apps they use. A major component of Pokémon Go is the ‘Raid battle’ feature. As these can be difficult to organise, many Pokémon Go players use websites such as Pokémon Go Raid Online to take part in raids across the world. While stranger interaction is limited in-game, it is important to monitor how your child may use these other sites and the friends they might add. There is also a popular Discord server where many players congregate, and your child may be exposed to inappropriate language and direct messages from strangers through this server. It is recommended that younger players only share their trainer code with known friends in the offline world. Encourage your child to speak to you if they have shared their trainer code with someone they don’t know, or if a stranger has tried sharing their code with your child. Players under 13 are required to have an adult verify their account. As part of this process, parents and carers are able to set up a child’s account which allows them to review the information shared on this account, as well as monitor the new friends made and interacted with during gameplay.
Niantic, the creators of Pokémon Go, have a set of player guidelines which all players must adhere to. Players who deviate from the expected behaviour risk being removed from the game. Speak to your child about what is appropriate behaviour both on and offline for this game and ensure they know how to report inappropriate or offensive behaviour.
Design, data and costs
As with most free online games, there are opportunities for players to make in-game purchases within the ‘Shop’ tab in the game.. These do not benefit the gameplay, but they can nonetheless be extremely appealing for children. Speak to your child about in-app purchases and ensure they understand that real money is used to make purchases within the game. You can also set up relevant in-app purchase settings on your device. It is also important to check that the game is not linked to your bank cards or financial details.
When users first create an account, all notifications are enabled. To help manage your child’s time playing the game, it is recommended that notification settings are managed. This can be done within the game by following the instructions below.
Tips for keeping your child safe
Players under 13 need to have their account verified by an adult. During this process, parents can set up the account with the relevant settings, ensuring your child’s account is private.
To manage privacy via the ‘Parents Portal’:
- Go to the Parents Portal and enter the email address you used to verify the account when you first set it up.
- Select the profile you wish to review.
- Scroll down and select ‘Review’.
- Work through the listed permissions, choosing the appropriate settings for your child from the following options:
- Sponsored content
- Share AR experiences
To manage privacy and data within the game:
- On the main page, select your ‘Trainer profile’ and tap the hot air balloon icon.
- Select the ‘Settings’ menu and toggle either on or off the option to:
- Let my friends see info about the last time I played Niantic Games
- Let my friends see my username from all Niantic Games
You can manage your interactions quite easily in Pokémon Go. Players can add friends to their game by sharing their individual trainer code. Friends within the game can either be phone contacts or Facebook friends, if they have linked their Facebook account.
To add a friend:
- On the main page, select your trainer profile and then select the ‘Friends’ tab at the top.
- Select the ‘Add friend’ option and enter the trainer code you friend has shared with you.
- Note: this is also where players can view their trainer code to share with their friends.
To remove a friend:
- On the main page, select your ‘Trainer profile’.
- Tap the ‘Friends’ tab to open your friend list.
- Select the friend you want to remove and at the bottom of their profile, tap the ‘Remove friend’ button.
Players can report and block other players who may be bothering them or behaving inappropriately on the platform.
To report a player:
- On the main page, select the ‘Poké ball’ icon.
- Click the ‘Settings’ symbol in the top right-hand corner,
- Select the ‘Help’ option which has a speech bubble icon.
Choose the ‘Contact us’ option and type ‘Report a player’ into the message box.
Whilst this game is free to play, in-game purchases are available. You can disable in-app purchases on each individual device itself. You can also limit the number of notifications received, to help encourage screen-free time.
To disable ‘Push notifications’:
- On the main page, select the ‘Poké ball’ icon
- Select the ‘Settings’ symbol in the top right-hand corner and scroll down to ‘Push notifications’.
- Toggle the options on or off as appropriate.
To disable in-app purchases on iOS:
- Go to ‘Settings’ > ‘Screen time’ and scroll down to ‘Content and privacy restrictions’.
- Select ‘iTunes and App Store purchases’ and set the option to ‘Don’t allow’.
To disable in-app purchases on Android:
- Go to your Google Play Store app.
- Select ‘Menu’ > ‘Settings’ > ‘Require authentication for purchases’.
There is a designated ‘Parent portal’ for Niantic games, where parents can register an account to help manage their child’s privacy for all Niantic games.
There is a Pokémon Go help centre with frequently asked questions and support.
Pokémon Go is part of the huge Pokémon franchise, established in the 1990s, that attracts new young players as well as older players who have been playing for many years.