Just a few days after its launch, Pok?mon GO, the latest smartphone game made by the Pok?mon Co. and Niantic, has already taken the kids and adults across the world by storm.
The game that uses augmented reality to let players ?catch? the Pok?mon in real, physical locations, has even prompted applause for making devoted gamers go outside and exercise.
But the sensational game has also sparked widespread concerns about the safety of kids and adults due to a number of risks and dangers associated with playing the game.
Pokemon GO has already been linked to anecdotes of broken bones, dangerous driving and serious injuries as the gamers with their eyes glued to their screens and unaware of their surroundings get themselves hurt. Players have also kayaked to the middle of a lake, jumped down into scenic caves and walked around the outskirts of desolate ravines to ?catch them all.? The distracted players, unconcerned about their personal safety, are likely to accidentally hurt themselves or others especially in the case of the gamer driving.
In Auburn, New York on Tuesday night, a 28-year-old driver crashed the car he was driving into a tree. He was reportedly playing Pok?mon GO while behind the wheel. Another accident occurred at Texas A&M, where a car crashed into a parked vehicle because the driver had abandoned it suddenly to catch a Pok?mon, according to the Texas A&M Police Twitter account.
But a far significant concern is about younger players who venture out alone in lookout for the monsters. There are claims being made that the app could be used for sinister purposes such as paedophiles using the ?lure? element of the game to trap children. Another concern is the use of lure technique by opportunist thieves who could use the game to track down vulnerable targets.
A teenager in Wyoming had found a body while playing Pok?mon GO, and a group of armed robbers in Missouri lured eight players to a location by using one of the game?s ?Pokestops.? There have been other reported stories of robberies and muggings.
In response to these dangers, law and enforcement agencies across the world are issuing statements asking players to act responsibly and stay away from dangerous areas and situations.
The National Safety Council released a statement alerting people to the fact that since the game launched last week, there have already been a number of “close calls” with major injuries by people playing the game without thinking twice about where they are going or what they are doing. In an effort to prevent serious accidents or incidents from occurring, the council urged players to make safety, while playing, their number one priority.
So Pokemon GOers, here?s how to keep yourselves safe:
- Watch out for your surroundings and stay alert at all times.
- Don’t Pokemon GO and drive – Catching Pikachu isn’t worth crashing.
- Beware of Danger Zones – Play in pairs or as a group to ensure your safety.
- Tell people where you’re going if you plan to go somewhere you’ve never been.
- Don’t trespass – People might call the police if you enter a private property, hunting for Pokemon and other virtual characters is no excuse.
- Parents should limit places that kids can go to. They should set boundaries so kids, who are unattended, can avoid meeting strangers;
- And, as always, if you run into an individual who is seemingly up to no good – don’t hesitate to dial 911!