Here’s everything parents need to know about the Harry Potter Wizards Unite smartphone game
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is the latest smartphone game to encourage exploration of the real world.
Using augmented reality, it transports players into a wizarding world based in their neighbourhood, and has them visit real-life locations to cast spells and complete magical tasks.
But, like Pokemon Go before it, the game means that players travel around while concentrating on their phones.
This could pose safety issues, and it is important for parents to make sure that their kids are using the game that does not put them at risk and keep an eye on where the game is taking them.
Possible risks for children
Earlier this week, it emerged that the game was directing children to a strip club in order to complete one of the in-game tasks.
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite mistakenly sent them to Ye Olde Axe in Hackney, London, where a chalkboard advertises ‘Live Nude Entertainment’.
Maker Niantic apologised and said the venue had been removed from the game. It added, “We want everybody to have a fantastic time exploring while playing safely.”
With that in mind, here are some tips for parents to make sure their kids enjoy the game while remaining aware of their surroundings and safe.
Accompany your children
As a key part of the game involves walking around, the most effective way to make sure your kids don’t stray into places you’d rather they avoided is to go with them.
You can also get them to show you how it all works so that you know what the game entails and where it might be taking you. If you are familiar with the game you will better be able to advise on how it is played safely.
A key safety issue with the game is that players will be walking around while not paying attention to their surroundings. The game is map-based and so encourages people to look at their phones while on the move.
Reminding your children to put the phone away when they are crossing roads or walking around in areas where they are not familiar, as well as to regularly look around them and check where they are, should help limit the risks.
Be aware of time
Some places are safe to explore in the daytime, but can be much more dangerous at night. Losing track of time while playing the game, or going out at night, could mean that children are exploring unfamiliar places in the dark.
Limiting playing time to the day is a good idea if you want to make sure everyone stays safe.