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August 31, 2016

Pokémon and privacy issues your students should know – Lesson plan

Pokémon Go became a cultural sensation overnight this summer. The game has lured users everywhere from restaurants to renowned cemeteries, reaching 10.81% daily user penetration level in its first four days, and raised Nintendo’s market value by $11 billion. As Pokémon users increase, is there a way for teachers to use the game in the classroom? Are there privacy issues that teachers and students should be aware of?


Geography Social studies, English, technology

Estimated Time

One 50-minute class

Grade Level



Pokémon’s extreme popularity already has teachers exploring ways to use the game to help students learn about local geography and history. But it also has some questioning Pokémon Go’s privacy policies and what happens when you sign in using a Google account–and just how much you give up when playing the game. Learn some of the basics behind the game here.

Warm up activity

As a warm-up, use this interactive Kahoot to allow students to share their preliminary knowledge on Pokémon Go, online privacy and other related issues. Each student will require a smartphone, laptop or computer and should go to the Kahoot website and enter the Game PIN.

Watch the following video to give your students a big picture idea of Internet privacy and how websites collect personal information. Were you aware of how websites share and use your information with one another? Will this change how you use the Internet?

Main Activities

  1. There’s a lot of neat historical places Pokémon Go can take you! While this lesson concentrates on giving your students tools to understand Internet privacy issues, it’s important to know that there’s a lot of fun involved in Pokémon Go, too. So if your class sets out on an adventure in your school’s neighborhood (we highly recommend getting to know the community around your school) or if your assignment involves asking students to partner up as they stumble across Pidgee or a nearby Pokéstop, they’ll be aware of what apps and Internet sites are asking of their customers.
  2. Know your rights: “I think the privacy issue is huge in fact it is why I have not jumped into the fray,” said high school geography teacher Merri Weir. But Weir also said she’s excited about the opportunities Pokémon may afford her students–“I’d love it [even more] if they teamed up with local history and added a pop-up “did you know…” Like many teachers, Weir cares about online privacy issues, especially concerning young people. 
    1. Read this Buzzfeed article to familiarize students on Pokémon Go’s privacy policies and information collected by the game. Have students write down or discuss their initial thoughts and reactions to the article, using these questions.
      1. Do you play Pokémon Go? If so, were you familiar with the access to personal information given to Niantic by playing the game?
      2. Did you learn anything new about privacy rights in the game through this article?
      3. Do you think Pokémon Go has a right to collect information and access about their users? Explain your answer.
      4. Should apps and companies have this much access to personal data? Explain your answer.
    2. Watch the PBS NewsHour video titled Why digital education could be a double-edged sword. Do you think there should be limits placed on the amount of personal information schools may collect for their records? Why or why not?
    3. Dive deeper into the discussion of privacy rights with your students.
      1. What are the risks to one’s privacy as the world becomes increasingly digitized? Does knowing this information change how you will use the internet and apps? Due to potential risks regarding privacy, do you think digitization is worth it?  Explain your answers.
      2. Write down 3-5 bullet points defending your position after the discussion once you know where you stand. Then, take the Kahoot survey above again. Did your views change? Did overall class opinion change? If so, why? Discuss as a class.

by Alex Mathews, a junior at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va. and Vicky Pasquantonio, PBS NewsHour Education Editor, History/English teacher

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  • Standards

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    Relevant National Standards:
      CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.7.1 Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

      CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.8.1 Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

      CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

      CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.

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