As you’ve no doubt noticed, Pokémon GO has taken the world by storm since its release on July 5, 2016. It’s getting people outside to actively explore their surroundings and giving millions their first experience with augmented reality. But it’s also raising questions and concerns about whether the game’s location and mapping features are compromising people’s data and information and luring players into danger.
With school starting up again soon, we wanted to offer some guidance for teachers on how to address and manage the Pokémon GO craze in your classroom and school.
1. Educate students and parents about the privacy concerns.
Some serious privacy issues have been uncovered — namely that a player’s name and location are broadcast to other players. Plus, there have been reports of physical injury due to distraction, people being directed to unsafe places or onto private property, and even people becoming targets for assault or robbery. Point parents to our app review for more details and to determine whether Pokémon GO is appropriate for their kids.
2. Make a plan, not a ban.
The moment you make something taboo, kids will do everything they can to do that very thing. Instead of banning all things Pokémon GO from the outset, try using it as a jumping-off point for more valuable learning experiences. Make space for it in classroom discussion, taking advantage of kids’ interest and enthusiasm for the game.
3. Channel kids’ excitement into deeper learning activities.
Though the app doesn’t have inherent learning value, creative educators are already thinking through ways to channel kids’ excitement over the game into related or spin-off learning activities. One great thing about Pokémon GO is it gets kids out in the world discovering new places and people. Seize the opportunity, and have kids embark on similar experiences in their communities to get them out in the world, researching history or talking to people and creating tours, maps, podcasts, and videos.
Check out these fun ideas we’ve heard from teachers in our network:
- Science: Have kids share their top five favorite Pokémon to discuss their phylum types. Based on their association to a phylum (water, earth, and so on), students have to think critically about what attributes the Pokémon possess. Then students apply attributes to real animals that might share similar phylums.
- History: Use PokeStops as a way to do research on local landmarks.
- Math: Have students log distance and calculate distance between battlegrounds or stops. You could also use the Pokémon for simple addition and subtraction within their Pokédex .
- Physical Education: Use the egg-hatching function to get kids to complete their cardio distance (incubating eggs requires walking to the hatch) and aim for kids to hatch an egg (walking two to 10 kilometers) depending on the egg found.
4. Younger kids should only play with an adult and with parental consent.
Because of the privacy issues outlined above, we do not recommend Pokémon GO for kids under 13. However, we’ve heard some fun ideas for cooperative play that could be integrated into adult-supervised group activities. One parent talked about alphabetizing the Pokémon with his young daughters for a little early literacy practice!