(Rated 12+, Social Networking)
Niantic’s top-rated Pokemon GO game app for kids and teens has them seeking real-life coordinates to find and “capture” a host of virtual reality creatures. The original app combines geolocation tracking with the ability to interact with locations around them virtually. Inevitably, more developments to help users succeed in the game and connect with other users will be made.
The result is the Campfire app. An entire map-enabled social media network and messaging community, Campfire aims to bring the Pokemon GO gaming community closer together. Players who install the app will gain a significant advantage over those who do not, so the pressure to join in will be tremendous.
Because these games require players to relocate frequently in real life, it has become common for people to use existing social networking platforms to organize meetups, in-game raids, and tournaments. To capture this market and help your child or teen better use their main app, they have created Campfire.
It is a companion app that will work with all of Niantic’s AR (or Augmented Reality) existing and upcoming experiences. It first features a map for geolocation and then adds friends, activities, communities, and messaging abilities.
To use Campfire, players must be at least 13 years old. The gaming platform will use Niantic account IDs but merge current accounts from other Niantic games.
Campfire allows your child or teen to find other gamers in their area, message them, share content, and organize events and meetups. Gaming communities are already forming worldwide, with tens of thousands of players.
While being able to make these connections may help your child or teen succeed in the game, they are essentially providing their live location to many people in a public forum. The app displays “events” in a standard 2D map format, with green “flares” that can be placed on the map to imply where something interesting is happening. Those flares can be seen by other users in the area, creating a heat map of local events.
Niantic has developed an app called Niantic Kids that works in tandem with all their games. This app allows children under the age requirement for Campfire and Niantic games to gain access via a parent-created account. Additionally, the parental controls app will enable you to reject or accept information requests from the game, which, in the case of the Campfire app, is primarily and consistently going to be your child or teen’s location.
Some processes are in place to increase your child’s or teen’s safety while sharing their private information. For example, their location shares are posted anonymously and only last 10 minutes. Your child or teen can also send another Campfire user a one-hour location-based signal of where they are without revealing their exact location.
That being said, there will always be dangers associated with children and adolescents gathering in public places unaccompanied by adults. For instance, the ability for individuals to track movements and pinpoint locations like your child or teen’s neighborhood is made possible with apps like Campfire.
We recommend your child or teen only use the Pokemon GO or Campfire apps with close supervision in a controlled environment. This can help significantly reduce their opportunity to share their location often and recklessly.
Monitoring your child or teen’s interactions with other people on the internet is always essential, and the urgency only increases when variables like meeting up in public with strangers come into the mix.
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