Online Safety While Playing Pokémon GO?

This article has been updated for 2023.  It’s been seven years since Pokémon GO became all the rage. And even though the peak of it’s popularity is long gone, it is estimated that there are still an average of 79 million monthly users.  Later in this post we’ll look at specific online safety regarding this popular augmented reality game.  But first, let’s explore the obvious…

As new technologies and trends continue to emerge, we should know by now not to rule anything out. Who would have thought a few years ago that a game on your phone would bring game lovers outside to play, and exercise. This is a good thing.  At the very least those playing the game are putting in a lot of extra steps walking while breathing in fresh air. Others are running as their virtual reality leads them into the great outdoors.

Pokémon GO – Physical Gamer Safety

Now, here’s where the discussion of gaming safety comes in regarding the unique platform and that delivers Pokémon GO. There have been reports of minor injuries due to users not paying attention to their surroundings while playing the game. It can be as simple spraining an ankle while loosing your footing off a curb, or falling and landing on your elbow.

There is a verified news story about two young men who fell off a small cliff and had to be rescued. To be clear, they climbed a fence to access an area not open to the public which led them into harms way.

Now, we will say it again! The fact that people are venturing outside and getting some exercise is a very good thing. Sitting on your couch and doing nothing over a lifetime will quite frankly – shorten your life.  Bumps and scrapes are a normal part of a healthy active lifestyle. But we would also say that when caution and care is put into the equation, there are fewer broken bones.

We’ve mentioned walking and running, and we can take that to the next level for hikers, but what about biking? One of our writers saw a young boy was playing Pokémon GO in their neighborhood while riding his bike. Parents are diligent in telling their teens not to text and drive, now you’ll also need to warn them about the dangers of riding their bike one handed while searching for Pokémon on their phone..

… and yes, NO driving while playing Pokémon GO either.

Initial reviews of the video game include comments that it’s very easy to get lost in the game to the point where kids, teens and adults alike, pay less and less attention to the ‘real’ world around them.

The moral of the story? Get outdoors, YES! Have fun, YES!  Anything that encourages any member of society to ‘get active’ is indeed a positive thing, much like Wii Fit was first launched. But when you go outside, don’t leave common sense at the door.

Online Safety Concerns about Pokémon GO

Pokémon GO is indeed an online game and offline game.  There are physical hazards, where players can be so engrossed in the game that they become very unaware of their surroundings.

Now let’s shift to the main common concerns about the online portion of the game, which goes beyond becoming glued to your smartphone screen as you explore a revolutionary game that is played in the real world.

Pokémon Go is a location-based game

To play Pokémon GO, kids need to explore their natural surroundings.  And because other players are doing the same thing, it can often lead to encounters with other players. Parents should educate their children about the importance of personal safety and the potential risks associated with interacting with strangers.  Some of these players may be kids that are much older or even adults.

Privacy Concerns

Pokémon Go collects location data and requires access to a player’s device and camera. Parents should review and understand the game’s privacy policy and discuss the implications with their children. Teach children how to safeguard their personal information and being cautious about sharing details or images with others.

Excessive Screen Time

One of the most covered topics online related to any computer game or app is the amount of time people spend looking at a screen.  Pokémon GO can be addictive, leading to excessive screen time and potential negative impacts on physical activity, sleep patterns, and overall well-being.

The old adage used to be “get off your devices and go outside and play”.  With games emersed in augmented reality, kids are getting outside and running around while looking at their screens.  A balanced lifestyle means settings limits to smartphones in general, or video games for the avid gamer, and encouraging outdoor play, exploring hobbies, and conversing with friends.

The Dangers of Smartphone Use and Walking

Dangers of Texting and Walking

Zombies are invading the world!  Yes! There is a worldwide outbreak—of zombies. Germans calls these shuffling, bent creatures “Smombies,” a word made by joining two words: zombie and smartphones. Smombies are the people you see walking around with their eyes on their smartphones and not on the road ahead.

Each year, hordes of people are hurt by bumping into objects, falling into pools and getting hit by bikes and vehicles.

Innocent drivers who can’t avoid these zombies suffer from the trauma of hurting others. Older and disabled people walking down the street don’t move fast enough to avoid zombies and are commonly bumped and injured.

And this isn’t just taking place in your neighborhood. Zombies are a problem around the world.

In Seoul, South Korea, the city’s transportation department put up signs that show people using smartphones walking into cars. The signs are meant to remind people how dangerous walking can be when they don’t pay attention. The problem is that people must look up from their smartphones to see the signs.

Germany officials put bright strips of LED lights right in the sidewalk. This was done to keep people from walking into city trains. These lights have also been used in sidewalks in the Netherlands. Many people don’t like this idea, because it makes zombies feel that they don’t have to pay attention to the world around them.

In Austria, officials put airbags around lampposts to keep zombie tourists from smashing into them as they walk through the streets looking at their phones.

The city of Chongqing in southwest China has tried to solve this problem by making two walking lanes. One is for people who are not using smartphones as they walk. The other is for people walking with their heads down.

Honolulu, Hawaii, has passed a law making it illegal to enter a crosswalk while you are looking at your smartphone. People who step out into traffic with their eyes on their phone face huge fines.

Because of all the traffic accidents caused by zombies with their phones, Brazil has older ladies helping young smartphone addicts cross the street safely.

All around the world, zombies—or smombies, if you prefer–put themselves and other people in danger. You can help stop the invasion. The same goes for kids playing Pokémon GO outdoors and not watching where they are walking.  Remember this: a smartphone weighs about 4 ounces. A car can weigh about 80,000 ounces. When they hit each other, who do you think will win?

Now, look up.

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