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Teachable Moments - August 2016
A Newsletter for radKIDS' Parents and Families
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radKID Plans
for Pokémon  GO

radKIDS always play Pokémon GO with a buddy (parent, friend, safety partner) so that someone is watching your back and you can watch theirs. This can also add to the game strategy by allowing you both keep your eyes in the game and in reality.

radKIDS always use SIGHT-SOUND and DISTANCE when out with their buddy/safety partner. The same should be true when playing Pokémon GO.  Pokémon Trainers need their Pokémon for the challenge at the gym and radKIDS Pokémon players always have a partner when out and about (Sight-Sound and Distance).
 
radKIDS know their "SAFE ZONES" where ever they go. As you are exploring and looking for your PokéStops, also note your "safe zones" and those in the area who could help you, including other gamers.
 
radKIDS know it is not their job to help a grown-up and that grown-ups should not ask kids for help -- or Pokémon information - without a kids parent around. Grown-ups ask grown-ups or it could be a trick? radKIDS can always be polite and if approached by a grown-up they do not know or trust, they can run to a safe zone and get a grown-up.  (That is what a Pokémon Master would do.)

radKIDS always stay alert to your surroundings where you are going, busy roads, crossing streets, or in parking lots, beaches, churches and parks and PokéStops!  When playing Pokémon and crossing the street put your phone in your pocket, or your hands by your side and look left, look right, look left again before you cross. Stay focused on being safe and crossing the street. (#2 radKIDS don't hurt themselves)
 
If you feel your tweens are old enough to play with a safety partner buddy (non-adult), please remember that they may now be walking around less aware (oblivious!) to surroundings. So a radKIDS Plan discussion is most definitely suggested. You may want to revisit radKIDS plans in this case, too. Are you still okay with them traveling to the same places usually allowed? Maybe it's time to set up Pokémon Go play boundaries? radKIDS Mom Shelley Mutti shares that her nephews always go out in groups, never alone, and check in with mom every 30 minutes. She reports full compliance so far.

These are just a few ideas and foundational radKIDS tools to share and discuss with our "Pokémon Trainers." We encourage you to review the Out and  About radKIDS section of your radKIDS Family Manual as you create your plans with your children. Remember, Pokémon GO is a strategy-based game so talking radKIDS plans and strategies should not be hard for a true Pokémon Master, especially when we all want our children to have fun when playing.
Pokémon GO
Gotta Catch 'Em All
radKIDS Straddles Realities

On July 6, 2016 our "reality" changed yet again with the official launch of Pokémon GO. We went from a (gaming) world where  we  moved characters  around a screen  in a virtual world, to one where  virtual characters move or lead us
around  in our real world. This new reality is called augmented reality.
 
Over the last almost 8 weeks, we've been watching the rapid evolution of this new gaming methodology that seems to be on the minds and in the hands of, well, A LOT of children - and many adults. A quick Google search estimates about 9.5 million daily active Pokémon GO users in the first week.
 
"This new reality isn't going anywhere soon," says Jim Angelos, Executive Director for InspireWorks Enrichment, a children's after school and summer enrichment program. "They (Niantic Labs, makers of Pokémon GO) have plans to roll out new features in the near future so it's definitely worth educating people."

First, the Upside...  
When asked, most are saying that Pokémon GO is just a blast -- that's kids and parents alike. It is a legit scavenger hunt, and-- who doesn't like scavenger hunts? The game has learning potential built-in. It's getting kids off the couch and exploring/learning about their neighborhoods visiting PokéStops (special areas, usually parks or other public places, where players can pick up virtual items to help them in the game) and, in order to get the most out of the game, it helps if players can read and do simple math. During the course of the game players keep encountering creatures and objects that have names and stats. The stats help you to strategize to gain advantages to move ahead in the game. AND lastly, an added benefit is that kids are interacting on a human level (verbally!). Yep,  talking  with other players. So the upside is: potential for exercise, potential for learning, and a fun game that can involve the whole community.

And now the Downside...
Pokémon GO encourages mobility, conversation, and interaction with others. The game's unique ability to cross into real life is NOT the problem... the problem is the real life part.  Pokémon GO presents many of the same risks -and therefor many of the same safety strategies to avoid those risks -- that we talk about in radKIDS Out and About Safety. 

Take bike riding. Bike riding happens outdoors. It's safer when done with a group of friends, and kids can fall or crash into a tree if they don't watch where they are going. (Don't laugh, according to the National Safety Council, 11,000 people have been injured in the last decade due to distracted walking-and that was before this game launched). All of those things are  true for playing  Pokémon GO and all the same radKIDS safety plans can be used to increase safety.

As in any scavenger hunt, players look for or are given clues leading them to places where they can capture Pokémon and earn rewards-points, energy, power. They are called lures. A player can set out a lure to attract Pokémon for 30 minutes. This can be fun: a bunch of kids can catch Pokémon together, or a library or museum can set out lures to help attract people for an event. But this can be cause concern -a safety concern. Who's setting out that lure, and why? Just like in reality, there is the potential that there could be people out there that would use this game feature to lure a child into harm's way. (In radKIDS we call those TRICKS.)

 
What have we learned...
"The world is not perfect" as Senior Knowledge Manager with the United States Air Force, radKIDS instructor, and mother of three, Shelley Mutti explains, "I think the positives outweigh the bad and it's just a good opportunity to once again reiterate their radKIDS rules." 

As a parent or guardian our first response in setting up the boundaries for this "new gaming reality" may be to return to our classic style of protection - telling our children what they can and cannot do - the dos and don'ts. While we can certainly start there, as radKIDS parents and educators, we have learned that  a radKIDS Plan, developed by the child themselves,  is much more empowering and effective than attempting to learn a list of rules which often times lead to confusion and failed expectations. So what can we do to keep our children safe as we enter this new era in gaming?

Fortunately, for radKIDS families, the "downsides" are something you have  already  laid the foundation against. You've provided your children with the tools and LIFE SKILLS required to successfully navigate through the potential hazards that exists in this game...in reality... whether it be real life reality or the side effects of augmented reality.

radKIDS Plans for staying safe -- when playing  Pokémon GO
As we've suggested, from a safety perspective, this new world of augmented reality is very similar to the real world that is familiar to us. So  we suggest that you simply reinforce what your children already know with the addition of "Pokémon GO context." 

Start with the foundational radKIDS rules that your children have already developed and practiced in their radKIDS training... similar to what we do in I nternet Safety.

"So what is good and fun about playing Pokemon?" From there, we can then ease into conversation to developing ways to play the game while still recognizing, avoiding, resisting, or if necessary escaping potential dangers of playing a game in the real world. Rules should be constructed with a foundational knowledge base of radKIDS rules they are familiar with (#1 No one gets to hurt or trick us, #2 We don't trick or hurt anyone else, but, we can stop them, and most importantly, #3 If we are tricked, it is not our fault, so we can tell) combined within the context of the Pokémon GO game.
To our radKIDS  (Pokémon Trainers/ Masters)
We want and hope that you "Catch 'Em All"  while always remembering what all radKIDS (Pokémon Masters) know;
(1)  No One has the right to hurt or trick you, 
(2) radKIDS know that they don't have the right to hurt anyone either, UNLESS someone is trying to trick or hurt them and then
they can and will  STOP them (Yell Loud-Hit Hard-Run Fast)
and most importantly of all,
(3) If ANYONE tries to hurt or trick you,  it is not their fault and SO THEY CAN TELL and KEEP TELLING until someone helps.

Our Best Advice To Parents
The BEST advice we can give you is  to GET OUT THERE
 AND PLAY with your kids! Get involved, get excited, go exploring! Don't let the technology advance too far for you to join in and HAVE SOME FUN . After all who doesn't love a scavenger hunt! And, with you around playing right along side them, they couldn't be safer (Site, Sound, and Distance!).  And of course  we also wish you the very best as YOU  "Catch 'Em All." 

  radKIDS Inc.

9 New Venture Drive
S. Dennis,
MA  02660
(508) 760-2080