Restricted Pokemon Go Trading, Image: Sophie Brown

How Pokemon Go Trading Has Cheated Its Youngest Fans

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Restricted Pokemon Go Trading, Image: Sophie Brown
Restricted Pokemon Go Trading, Image: Sophie Brown

This week, Pokemon Go Trading and Friends were finally announced. This is the news that Pokemon Go players have been waiting years for, and we have all been eagerly awaiting the update that would push the new features onto our accounts.

That push began last night, with players at level 30 or above now able to friend one another, and trade Pokemon, and send one another gifts inside the game.

Only there’s a hitch.

You see, at no point in all the excitement and constant flurry of tweets from the developers about the new features, did anyone at Pokemon Go think to mention that this feature would only be available to players over the age of 13.

That means that kids, no matter what level they have made it to in the game, are now locked out of Pokemon Go‘s newest features.

New Pokemon Go Trading Features, Not For Kids, Image: Sophie Brown
New Pokemon Go Trading Features, Not For Kids, Image: Sophie Brown

The restriction has more of an effect than simply not being able to friend other players, too.

In-game friends are able to send one another gifts which may contain special eggs. These eggs are the only way to catch the new Alolan Pokemon that were released with the update.

This means kids are now completely blocked from any chance at completing their Pokedex, and as Pokemon Go trading is blocked from them too, they have even less chance at obtaining rare and regional Pokemon than adults who can trade with well-traveled friends.

This restriction is ridiculous and completely unfair to Pokemon Go‘s youngest fans, who are often it’s most enthusiastic.

While I agree that a level of parental restriction should absolutely be required for making in-game friends, it should be up to us as parents to make those decisions by approving either the friendship feature as a whole or by approving friend requests on a case by case basis.

Social Settings on The Pokemon Website, Image: Sophie Brown
Social Settings on the Pokemon website, Image: Sophie Brown

A look at the official Pokemon website shows that parents can approve different Social Settings for the Online Trading Card Game, choosing between a Closed account which is unable to accept friends, chat, or trade, an Open account which allows full access to all features, or a Limited account which is between the two.

It makes no sense that a similar system has not been implemented for Pokemon Go, especially considering that friendships in Pokemon Go are far “safer” for children in that there is no chat feature nor ability to see any location or personal information.

As it stands, children under 13 cannot even be friends with their own parents, their siblings, or their school friends, and as this then locks them out of many other features including trading, several new Pokemon, gifts, and in-game bonuses, this has turned Pokemon Go – a game focused on the concept of community and working together with others – into a hugely unfair system.

I hope the people at Pokemon Go fix this imbalance quickly in order to restore fairness to the game.

For now, I’ll just wait here dreading the moment the school bell rings and I have to inform my excited eight-year-old that no, we can’t become best friends in Pokemon Go after all.

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13 thoughts on “How Pokemon Go Trading Has Cheated Its Youngest Fans

    1. This will make no difference as the check for age is on the PTC account on the nintendo/pokemon website. They will still be unable to use the new features.

  1. Well written and you’ve voiced exactly the same thing I emailed Niantic about. I hope enough parents complain and they change things. For now I have super disappointed kids over this unfairness and I am so frustrated for them.

  2. I too have a nephew who is going to be devastated(have avoided telling him so far as he was so excited for this)l and the new Pokemon) at not being able to join in with me and his granddad and hatch these new Pokemon . To not even limit parent and child linked account as being friends to allow the child to get gifts and trade with parent (as a bare minimum) is ludicrous. I feel so guilty (actually even made me cry for him now going to miss out) for having set my nephew up as a child linked to my account as his safety would be no different to that had he been set up with an adult account – being honest and cautious doesn’t actually pay off.

  3. This is exactly describing the problem and the obvious inability of Pokemon Go Product Management to take care about their customers (at least parents and kids in this regard).
    I already gave Pokemon Go a 1-Star rating in the Apple Store for it. Maybe if enough parents do it, NianticLabs gets “motivated” to work on this problem.
    It is really frustrating that even after two weeks of this feature there is no reaction from NianticLabs on how they will work on enabling it for our kids as well.

    1. Their total lack of response to all the complaints from parents has been one of the most frustrating things about this. I have no idea what to tell my son.

  4. Personally I don’t like the being within so many feet to trade thing. It restricts trading as well. I had high hopes of trading people in other countries for the Pokemon they restricted from us. :/

  5. Very well written. I have to kids at lvl 35 and 36 who have lost interest after this exclusion and bullying by Niantic.

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