Pokémon GO has taken the world by storm. You’ve almost certainly heard about the wildly popular game by now, but do you fully understand what it is?  Pokémon GO is a free, downloadable app for your phone that uses GPS and “augmented reality” to allow players to “catch” creatures to add to their digital collection. The player can use their Pokémon to level up and evolve, then progress to take over “gyms” within the game to give one of three teams more prestige and bragging rights. It requires players to walk around and visit landmarks to find the adorable pocket monsters, forcing generally more sedentary gamers to get up and move.

Some educational landmarks and tourist attractions have embraced the game, using it to bring in more visitors and patrons. If you or your child have been swept away by the craze, consider bringing an educational aspect to the game by playing at these types of locations. Here are a few educational destinations that are already playing along. And read on to get some Pokémon safety and user tips to keep in mind for your kids:

Museums

The Museum of Modern Art, or MoMa, in New York City shared this tweet announcing they have PokéStops in the museum (PokéStops are waypoints where players can collect items needed to play), and they made a clever reference to the Pokémon character Mew.

I love this Instagram share from The Brooklyn Museum in which they hilariously used the camera function in the game to make a slight adjustment to a Maurice Sterne work of art.


ZOOS

The Sacramento Zoo hosted a Pokémon GO Day, promising to “have lures going ALL day long!” (“Lures” are digital bait that can be dropped on PokéStops to increase the chances of Pokémon appearing in that area.)

#SacZoo #PokemonGo Day this Saturday 9am-4pm! We’ll have lures going ALL day long.

A photo posted by SacramentoZoo (@sacramentozoo) on


The Cincinnati Zoo shared this screenshot from the game, showing their high number of PokéStops. The smaller blue squares are the PokéStops that are only accessible when you’re close enough, and the larger tower structures are Pokémon Gyms. The Gyms are colored based on which team currently has dominance (Valor is red, Mystic is blue, and Instinct is yellow).


LIBRARIES

The Washington County Public Library system (with locations in Virginia) shared this photo of a young Pokémon “trainer,” also promoting a high level Pokémon named Dragonite that library visitors have caught in the building. They also implemented a board where people can share what they caught while in the library.


The New York Public Library snapped a shot of a certain common Pokémon lurking deep within their shelves of books, encouraging followers to tag the library in their “Pokéfinds.”

Spotted in Mid-Manhattan Library: a Zubat! If you’re playing #PokemonGO around NYPL, tag us in your pokefinds! 📚

A photo posted by The New York Public Library (@nypl) on


PARKS

The National Park Service encourages gamers to get out and enjoy our country’s parks while on the hunt for the elusive pocket monsters.

Bryant Park in New York City promotes the gym located at their fountain, while reminding followers that they hosted the ten year Pokémon anniversary in 2006. Even those who have never played Pokémon in their lives are likely to recognize the famous and adorable Pikachu!


OTHER POPULAR TOURIST ATTRACTIONS

Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia shared this amusing, somewhat begrudging tweet illustrating some of the Gyms, PokéStops, and Pokémon on their grounds.

The craze certainly isn’t limited to the United States! What’sOnStage.com promotes many of London’s most famous and historical theatres and the Pokémon you can catch while also catching a show.

Palace Theatre

Palace Theatre

THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND

While the game is overall a positive, fun experience, it has received some bad press for being “dangerous” when it has been used improperly by some players. There are a few important tips to remember while playing:

  • The above are great spots to catch Pokémon, but there are some places that should be avoided. Memorials or more somber museums, like Arlington National Cemetery or the Holocaust Museum, have reminded players to be respectful and not hunt for imaginary creatures while on their grounds. As a gamer myself, I urge other users to be mindful and appropriate; please don’t make all of us look bad and draw negative attention to an otherwise fun and promising game!
  • Just as with texting or playing other games, DO NOT play while driving and pay attention to your surroundings while walking around. The game’s opening screen provides a message, “Remember to be alert at all times. Stay aware of your surroundings.” The phone will buzz when a Pokémon appears, so there is no reason to have your eyes glued to the screen.
  • As mentioned above, digital bait called “Lures” can be dropped on PokéStops to increase the chances of Pokémon appearing for all nearby players. Because of this, there have been reports of people using Lures to draw players to a stop to then rob or attack them. This sort of unfortunate incident could befall anyone in every day life who is not safe or wary, so be sure to remind your children not to wander off alone or play in questionable areas, especially at night. Endangering your safety for a digital creature is not worth it.
  • The game is free to play, but just like many other apps it does have in-game microtransactions, like purchasing items that can be used in gameplay. Remember to enable your parental settings so your little one doesn’t put you in debt for Pokéballs!
  • Be careful how often you or your child plays in relation to your data plan. The game does not use a ton of data if you’re a casual player, but it can add up if constantly in play. It does drain your battery life fairly significantly, so be aware and plan accordingly. (You can find helpful information on data usage here.)

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